Does petting a dog actually relieve stress?

Students had the chance to visit with therapy dogs in December to help reduce stress. Learn more about the science behind the calming effect.

Julian Fernandez, Staff Writer

Have you ever petted a dog and just simply felt happy? Man’s best friend can reduce stress in more ways than you think and could potentially be a significant part of your future studying habits!

During first semester exams in December, students had the opportunity to play with dogs to help alleviate stress. The dogs were from the organization Happy Tails, whose motto is, “Happy Tails volunteers are dedicated to sharing the comfort, healing, and connection of the human-animal bond.”

So how exactly does having pets/animals reduce stress?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Research has shown that simply petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol, while the social interaction between people and their dogs actually increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.” 

Although there is no factual proof that students performed better at taking tests because of the emotional support dogs, people noticed a brighter attitude after interacting with them. 

They helped with the stress I had going into my next exam that day. It was super relaxing to be with the dogs instead of worried about my finals,” junior Charles Weick said.

Sophomore Shane Donnelly also had a similar point of view.

“It helped to focus my mind away from the finals so that I could really relax with the dogs,” Donnelly said.

So after learning about this, maybe dogs can become an important part of your studying habits. Click here to see more highlights from the event in December