The importance of therapy dogs on college campuses

Juliana Collins, Contributing Writer

Throughout the school year, the University offers students and faculty many opportunities to interact with therapy dogs. This allows students to take a break from their studies – and faculty from their work – to relax and spend quality time with animals. Many college students often experience times of stress and other emotional hardships, which can stem from homesickness, schoolwork and social factors during the semester. Therapy dogs are a mutually beneficial way to address these emotions, as they are physically, socially and cognitively influential.

The University’s Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC) offers a wide range of services to help students grow in self-understanding and use the emotional resources provided on campus. The Therapy Dog Program, which partners with Alliance of Therapy Dogs, benefits both the dogs and the students who attend. This program is part of their “Mindfulness Menu,” which also offers the following programs and practices: Self-Care Saturday events at 7th Street Makerspace, Zen Meditation and Qigong, and Jewish Meditation.

Christopher Connacher, a staff psychologist at the University, explained how the visits by the dogs allow many of our students who own or love dogs but cannot have one on campus to have the opportunity to spend some time with the wonderful therapy dogs.

“It also may be an opportunity for students to take a break from their work in a manner that is rejuvenating for them. Additionally, [the CSDC] believes that the events are an opportunity for students to come together and bond over shared interests and love of dogs,” Connacher said. 

The Counseling and Student Development Center currently has four Therapy Dog events planned this spring semester. They are scheduled for Jan 27., Feb 17., Mar 23., and Apr 20., either in front of or inside the entrance of Bertrand Library.

The therapy dog visits are intended to provide students with opportunities to focus their attention away from the stress of work and onto other parts of their lives in order to focus their energy on something that they find meaningful and soothing.

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