New Southwestern University Study Explores How Human-Animal Bonds Can Aid in Stress Management

New Southwestern University Study Explores How Human-Animal Bonds Can Aid in Stress Management

In an attempt to better understand and combat student stress, two Southwestern University professionals have begun a study on the human-animal bond and its possible role in stress management. Assistant Professor Vanessa Mikan and Board of Trustees member Claire Peel are currently investigating how brief interactions with therapy dogs influence SU students’ stress levels.

According to a news story on the Southwestern University official website, the study specifically involves having groups of students participate in two-hour sessions with licensed therapy dogs and their handlers. Once the session is concluded, the students fill in a short survey form that they can access through a QR code.

The form asks them to measure their stress levels both prior to and after interacting with the therapy dogs, as well as whether they enjoyed the interaction and some other open-ended questions. Mikan and Peel’s findings thus far indicate a significant drop in student stress as a result of their participation in animal-assisted activities.

The researchers intend to continue surveying students through the spring semester and present their results to the SU administration at the end of the semester. Their hope is to continue the study through the succeeding semesters and eventually establish a weekly animal therapy program for student stress relief at Southwestern University.

Actionable Ways to Relieve Pet Stress

Animal lovers are well aware of how pets help relieve people’s stress, improve their moods, and support their overall well-being. However, it’s equally important for a pet owner to pay close attention to their beloved pet’s mental state and to care for them appropriately when they’re stressed or anxious.

If your dog is showing signs of stress, the best thing to do is to remove them from the stressor and bring them to a place where they can decompress. Build a safe space for your dog at home by storing your custom dog beds, custom plush toys, and any other personal items they like in a quiet corner where they’re unlikely to be disturbed. Walking, playing fetch, and other physical activities are also great stress reducers for pets.

Want to read more heartwarming stories about human-animal interactions, or brush up on the latest research into animal behavior? At PrideBites’ Barking Post blog, we’ve got all that and more for you. Bookmark us today to ensure you never miss a new post!

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