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Study: Therapy Dog in Classroom Increases Mental Health Support for Nursing Students

Integrating a therapy dog into the classroom increases mental health support for nursing students, according to a recent study from Saint Louis University.Dr. Margaret BultasDr. Margaret Bultas

The study, “Evaluation of Dog Presence as a Therapeutic Classroom Intervention,” was conducted by Dr. Margaret Bultas, professor in SLU’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing. It found that bac­calaureate nursing students taught in a course with a therapy dog showed improvement in stress, anxiety, and happiness.

“Students are stressed all semester. We bring a dog in, which calms them for an hour, but next week the dog's gone. It’s a short-term fix, not a long-term solution,” Bultas said. “I was interested in learning if the regular presence of a dog would reduce stress for my students over time."

The dog used in this study was a three-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Cavalier Spaniels are known to be gentle with even temperaments and kind faces, Bultas said.

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