The Case for Therapy Dogs at Schools
The Case for Therapy Dogs at Schools
PUBLISHED: Friday, July 13, 2018 by Andilynn Feddeler

Therapy dogs have often been brought into schools following tragedies or traumatizing events as vehicles to help students cope with intense emotions and stress. The effects of these interventions have been overwhelmingly positive, increasing student confidence, security, and even school attendance. This presents a case for more therapy dogs at schools and universities, especially in times of high stress. These dogs can improve student wellness by:

  • Decreasing depression and anxiety. Dogs are great companions and can improve a student’s emotional health just by spending time with him or her. The physical act of petting a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and stress, and even raise the spirits of someone who’s been feeling down.

  • Improving motivation, especially in students with autism spectrum disorders. If a student has been struggling to find motivation to complete assignments, bringing in a therapy dog for a session may be helpful in incentivizing him or her.

  • Promoting social interaction. Talking about the dog in the room, a shared interest, can help students bond with each other and forge connections that may have been strained or nonexistent before.

  • Helping students learn to trust. Dogs are known to be extremely loyal, and for a kid who may not have consistency in his or her life at home or school, a dog can provide that extra bit of comfort.

If you’re considering implementing a therapy dog program at your school, you can
get started by researching organizations, assessing student needs, and setting goals.

Some kids, including those with learning and emotional disabilities, may also greatly benefit from having a pet at home, which can provide a sense of responsibility, ownership, and purpose. A companion, especially one so loyal, could be a great addition to a family.