March 16, 2015 4:29 pm
Updated: March 16, 2015 6:22 pm

Therapy dogs helping university students release stress before exams

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TORONTO –  Ryerson University and the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program are working together to provide support to students who are feeling stressed before exams.

“The Ryerson Therapy Dog Program is a mental health initiative,” said Bronwyn Dickson, a counsellor at the Centre for Student Development and counselling at Ryerson.

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The program is open to students, staff and faculty once a week for one hour on a drop-in-basis.

“When we started this program back in October, 2013, it was during mid-terms and finals, and we were having 300 to 500 students come out,” Dickson said.

Up to three dogs are on site at any given time and students say the dogs help them relieve tension before exams.

“Literally, it was like two, three minutes, made a huge difference, because a few weeks later I got my grades back and I got an eighty-six on the exam,” Sarah Keith, a Ryerson student, said.

The program also aims to help students connect with each other, while forgetting about their worries and loneliness.

“It’s like a weight has been lifted, they’re smiling and they’re just more relaxed, and there is a great sense of appreciation now… they often say it is exactly what I needed,” Dickson said.

The program continues to create a relaxing and positive experience between students and the therapy dogs.

“Just spending a bit of time with the dogs, it’s like that touch, really does make a difference,” Keith said.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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