Therapy dogs on campus: An exploration of how dog therapy services affect undergraduate students’ stress levels


  • Tanna Lauriente Thompson River's University
  • Drayden A.D. Kopp Thompson River's University


stress, therapy, dogs, students, depression, anxiety


University can be stressful for many undergraduates. Fortunately, there are various stress reduction strategies, including weekly dog therapy sessions, offered at Thompson Rivers University. This study investigated the effects of dog therapy on students via a self-reported stress survey. Students in a control group (n= 98), who did not visit the therapy dogs, and a test group (n= 108), who did, provided data on their stress level and various other factors. Students in the test group reported their stress levels before and after participating in a dog therapy session by circling a number on our stress scale, determining their stress scores. Tests of association were used to examine relationships between stress scores before visiting the dogs and various other factors. Two-sample t-tests were used to compare stress scores for students in the control group to those in the test group prior to the dog therapy, and paired t-tests were used to compare the stress scores of students in the test group before and after dog therapy. There appeared to be an association between course load and the stress score of students in the test group before using the dog therapy (p= 0.018). There was no difference in stress score between students in the test group before dog therapy and those in the control group (p= 0.2771); there was, however, a significant difference in the average stress scores of students in the test group before and after they visited the therapy dogs (p= 0.0000); the results suggest that the dog therapy was successful in decreasing stress scores among students in the test group.