This novel, exploratory study investigated the effect of a short, 20 min, dog-assisted intervention on student well-being, mood, and anxiety. One hundred and thirty-two university students were allocated to either an experimental condition or one of two control conditions. Each participant completed the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMBS), the State Trait Anxiety Scale (STAI), and the UWIST Mood Adjective Checklist (UMACL) both before, and after, the intervention. The participants in the experimental condition interacted with both the dogs and their handlers, whereas the control groups interacted with either the dog only, or the handler only. The analyses revealed a significant difference across conditions for each measure, with those conditions in which a dog was present leading to significant improvements in mood and well-being, as well as a significant reduction in anxiety. Interestingly, the presence of a handler alongside the dog appeared to have a negative, and specific, effect on participant mood, with greater positive shifts in mood being witnessed when participants interacted with the dog alone, than when interacting with both the dog and the handler. These findings show that even a short 20 min session with a therapy dog can be an effective alternative intervention to improve student well-being, anxiety, and mood.
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - 5 May 2017|