How Effective Are Therapy Dogs?

Lizzie Thompson, Staff Writer

    Therapy dogs have been a long time adding to Oakton stress less week by having petting sessions available during lunch. Although dogs are very cute, and of course, it is always nice to have dogs wandering around during the school day, the big question is if these therapy dogs actually help mental health.

  There have been a lot of studies that have looked into the effectiveness of therapy dogs. The research is all conclusive that therapy dogs have multiple positive effects on your psyche that goes past them being cute to look at. Just being near a dog constantly can lower your heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and release endorphins. Endorphins are the same chemical that is usually released during exercise and makes you happy. An even deeper analysis says that being with a dog triggers a pre-existing human-animal bond. This bond formed between you and an animal releases a hormone called oxytocin which influences your trust in something.

    Therapy dogs are specifically helpful in school settings. They are shown to boost the learning and motivation of students, as well as boosting the confidence level students that utilize the therapy dog treatment. Sophie Draeger, 9th grade, says “the dogs just relax me. Like it’s not in a super obvious way, but afterwards I just feel refreshed.”

    Of course, there will always be studies pointing out how there needs to be constant interaction between people and dogs for most of these side effects to kick in, but the bond of seeing another animal being happy is very beneficial for anyone suffering from depression or even feeling unmotivated to learn in school, and those benefits far outweigh the skepticism.