Why Schools Should Have Permanent Therapy Dogs

Providing therapy dogs on campus is something that is becoming more common.  Dogs have been proven to have a beneficial impact on improving the mental health of their owners and this concept has been taken to universities.  I think that to fully enjoy the benefits of therapy dogs, they must be permanent at universities for the sake of student's mental health.

In high school I did a project on the effects that dogs can have on their owner’s mental health.  I interviewed a dog-walker who was suffering from depression, and she explained to me that her dogs made a huge impact on improving her mental health.  She explained it in terms of the necessity to care for something other than yourself which made her happier, along with going outdoors and taking them for a walk rather than staying inside.  Not only did she explain it in terms of taking care of the dog which helped her depression, but also simply the dogs’ personality that affected her; they are caring and happy.

Dogs can have a huge impact on the mental health of people, which can explain the growing number of emotional support dogs being adopted, as mental health is a topic that is becoming more prevalent and accepted.  Dogs that are certified as emotional support/therapy dogs have prior training, however, it is not only these dogs that can improve someone’s mental health. Going back to the story earlier, the dogs that the woman at the dog park was talking about weren’t certified in any way, they were just her dogs or the dogs she walked. It’s more about the nature of dogs rather than the training they receive. 

Therapy dogs in universities are becoming more accepted. For example, there are days where therapy dogs will be on campus and students can go and interact with them.  Sometimes, there are dogs walking around campus buildings where students can pet them. The idea that dogs can help improve the mental health of people or reduce stress is becoming prominent in society, especially in universities where students experience a lot of stress.  Meeting students on campus who have anxiety, depression or other struggles with mental health is not uncommon. For instance, in my first year, three out of the four girls in my residence hall had some struggles with mental health, including myself. With that being said, universities definitely have a fair number of stressed students who may experience mental health issues.

Although I think that having therapy dogs on campus for a few days out of the year is a good start, I think that students would benefit from having permanent therapy dogs. I know that a lot of students live away from home, and if they have a dog at home, not being able to see their dog can be really upsetting. Being able to see and hang out with a dog for a few minutes can help relieve the stress of school along with any sadness the student may endure.  I know that it is a little tricky because some people might be scared of dogs or may be allergic to them so the dogs might not be accepted into all buildings on campus, but having a building or a study place that is dedicated to students who want to see them might be the way to go. Think of it kind of like a cat café, but with dogs.

I think that dogs are such wonderful animals and their undeniable love for their owners is very heartwarming, especially in a world where everything seems so dark and gloomy.  Being at a university can be a really stressful time for many students, especially in the winter when everything is so dark and cold, but I believe that dogs really are the answer in helping these times pass with more ease.