Toronto: A new study has revealed that spending some time with a dog may help students reduce stress and boost their wellness.
Researchers have said that dog therapy sessions are becoming more popular on university campuses in the west.
Emma Ward-Griffin, Research Assistant at the University of British Columbia in Canada, lead author, "Our findings suggest that therapy dog sessions have a measurable, positive effect on the wellbeing of university students, particularly on stress reduction and feelings of negativity."
While previous research suggested that female students benefit from therapy dog sessions more than male students, the researchers found the benefits were equally distributed across both genders in this study.
According to researchers, having therapy dogs around while students are working on their out-of-class assignments could be even more helpful.
For the study, the researchers surveyed 246 students before and after they spent time in a drop-in therapy dog session.
Students were free to pet, cuddle and chat with seven to 12 canine companions during the sessions. They also filled out questionnaires immediately before and after the session, and again about 10 hours later.
The study found that participants reported significant reductions in stress as well as increased happiness and energy immediately following the session, compared to a control group of students who did not spend time at a therapy dog session.
Frances Chen, Assistant Professor at the varsity said, "These sessions clearly provide benefits for students in the short-term, so we think universities should try to schedule them during particularly stressful times, such as around exam periods."
The study was published in the journal Stress and Health.
(With IANS inputs)