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Universities introduce “puppy breaks” for students

The end of semester can be a tough time, with students feeling the crunch of big assignments and cramming for exams. Add to it the lack of sleep, eating badly and more than a few drinks, and it’s pretty easy to get stressed out.

Dalhousie University is trying out a new way to fight stress: “Puppies!

It has created a puppy room to help students cope with the stress of exams and end-of-term assignments. The dogs will be provided by Therapeutic Paws of Canada, a non-profit organization that trains animals to help people with therapeutic or practical needs. 

University of Ottawa also approached Therapeutic Paws Of Canada and brought in Tundra, an 8yr old border collie mix, to the campus to help stressed-out students.

“Just petting a dog will decrease your blood pressure and relieve anxiety. You can be affectionate with them and they’ll be affectionate back. They love attention,” said Tundra’s owner and fellow student, Audrey Giles.

“Some students said they missed their family dog back home and needed to get a puppy fix. Others had come from an exam and were looking for a distraction,” says McGill student and event coordinator, Amanda Fraser. 

Simon Fraser University (SFU) and University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada are doing something to help students de-stress.

UBC Wellness Center has implemented a program called “Paws for Health” that will run through exam dates. Students can sign up for the program and get 10 minutes to play and cuddle and hang out with Jasmine, the Pawfessional De-Stresser.

SFU Health and Counseling Services is partnering with the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) to bring puppies (being trained as service dogs) to campus. You can watch UBC’s resident de-stresser in action here:

Dogs have been helping students de-stress at a number of U.S. schools, as well. 

From Kent State University in Ohio to Macalester College in Minnesota, more and more pooches are around campus during exams to help students relax, according to the Associated Press.

‘We had a student who came in and a staff person commented they had never seen that student smile,’ said Richelle Reid, a law librarian who started Emory’s pet therapy program. ‘It has had positive effects, helping them to just have a moment to clear their minds and not have to think about studies, not have to think about books.’

Pups are in counseling centers for students to visit regularly or faculty and staff bring their pets to lift spirits.
Pet-friendly dorms also are popping up where students can bring their dogs or cats from home and at Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, students can ‘rent’ pets for some alone time