Animal-Assisted Therapy has offered much evidence of success for a wide range of populations from the health of the elderly, to increased learning in children. However, University students have largely been neglected in this research, even though they could benefit the most. Thirty students from the University of Lincoln were asked to complete stress tests and mental arithmetic tasks before and after a relaxation intervention, which compared the effect of a therapy dog with two other control groups: watching a film and reading a newspaper. It was found the level of stress significantly reduced for the dog therapy intervention compared to the other two groups, however performance on the mental arithmetic task did not significantly improve. Implications of the findings could be that the introduction of Animal-Assisted Therapy into university services and onto campus may offer a cost-effective way of helping students to cope with the perceived stress often experienced by students and related to university life.
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