Therapy Dogs Lend a Helping Paw to Stressed-Out College Students

Therapy dogs on college campuses help take a bite out of student stress.


College is fraught with stress: studying for back-to-back finals, all night paper writing, moving away from home, and making new friends. It can be tough on a student!

Which is why more and more universities are offering their students a chance to hang out with therapy dogs on campus.

Stanley is just one such Golden Retriever puppy who spends his days at the Emory University law library providing comfort and support to sleep-deprived students toiling in the midst of finals. Upon seeing Stanley, the students can’t help but smile.

Richelle Reid, a librarian who started the puppy program after hearing of a similar effort at UC San Francisco, observed that giving students the chance to interact with dogs “has had positive effects, helping them to just have a moment to clear their minds and not have to think about studies, not have to think about books.”

With more and more evidence demonstrating the benefits of dogs in reducing stress and increasing overall happiness, it’s no surprise that schools as prestigious (and rigorous!) as Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School are introducing access to dogs for students.

The dogs are often therapy dogs in training who will one day become companion animals to people with disabilities. The dogs receive the socialization they need to become good service animals, while the students receive the uplifting shot of endorphins that a wagging tail and lolling tongue can provide. It’s a win-win situation — paws down!

At Kent State, nursing professor Kathleen Adamle started her “Dogs on Campus” program in 2006 with just her dog, but has since expanded to 11 certified therapy dogs.

Attesting to the power of dogs, Adamle is one of the first people dorms call when a tragedy occurs on campus. She says, “I don’t care if it’s 10 at night — we go to that dorm and sit on the floor. The kids are crying, and they grab the dog and put their face in the fur and just let it go.”

Story via the Chicago Sun-Times, photos via the Emory Report

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