Dogs help students manage exam stress

Dogs help students manage exam stress

Students at Swansea University are being given the chance to spend time with rescue dogs as part of a new initiative to reduce exam stress.

As well as helping the students to relax, the sessions are fun for the dogs and allow some of them to "trust humans again", a volunteer told BBC News.

In partnership with Swansea University Students' Union, the charity Greyhound Rescue Wales (GRW) brought dogs along to special Study Aid sessions throughout January to help students unwind between exams.

"The students love the rapport they build up with the dogs -- it is a win-win situation to be honest," said GRW volunteer Angela Hewitt. "The dogs get fuss and attention, endless treats and get people to play with them."

Greyhounds are the perfect breed for the task, explained Felicity Wilkins, another volunteer at GRW. "They are very calm, very accepting and do enjoy the sessions," she said. "It builds their confidence and it allows them to trust in humans again because some have had quite a rough beginning before they got re-homed."

It's not just students who benefit from the company of dogs: research has shown that taking dogs to work can reduce stress in the workplace and make the job more satisfying for employees.

In a study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University looked at a manufacturing company where people are allowed to bring their pets to work. They found that access to dogs boosted employees' morale and reduced stress levels. Animal welfare charity Blue Cross also recognises the benefits of dogs in the workplace.

Louise Lee, spokesperson for the charity, told the BBC: "We encourage our employees to bring in their well-behaved dogs where practical and we have seen similar results to the survey -- a more enjoyable working environment, staff more likely to take regular breaks and a reduction in stress through stroking and petting dogs during the working day. "The dogs themselves are also much happier as they are not being left at home for long periods of time."

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