Playing with puppies is making finals weeks a bit less stressful for students.
Schools like Yale, UCLA, Harvard and Emory University have implemented puppy therapy programs to help students de-stress during the inevitably demanding workload that tends to overwhelm many aspects of a student’s life.
“Research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol — or stress hormone — in people and increases endorphins, known as the happiness hormone,” said Richelle Reid of Emory University’s pet therapy program. “Scant research exists on how pet programs on college campuses help students cope with stress.”
Provo introduced a similar program for its college students, called Puppies for Rent, in 2012. On the website, www.puppiesforrent.com, prospective renters can select which puppy they would like to rent and book a session.
“Puppies For Rent was started to help students,” said Lane Lawrence, manager of the program. “We wanted people to see what therapy puppies can give.”
Recent studies show that those who interacted with a puppy on a regular basis were found to be more psychologically stable and had improved relationships and interactions with others. Many exercised more frequently and saw improvement in minor health problems because of their puppy interactions.
Students who participated in the studies also reported feeling less stressed while playing with a puppy as it took their focus away from their studies for a few hours.
“Puppies help to take your mind off of things,” said Jacob Parmley, a neuroscience major from Orem. “They show you unconditional love. You can’t help but feel that love, and it makes you happy.”
Parmley and his wife rented a puppy, Daisy, last winter and immediately fell in love with her. They decided to adopt Daisy and are now a puppy-owning couple.
“We weren’t looking to adopt a puppy when we first rented Daisy because at the time we weren’t allowed to have pets in our apartment,” Parmley said. “However, when they dropped her off we immediately fell in love with her. It took some time, but we finally convinced the landlords to allow the building to have pets. We may have to pay a little extra each month, but it’s worth it.”
Parmley admires Puppies For Rent as it gives prospective adopting families a chance to interact with the puppy before making a final decision. The Parmleys could not be happier with their decision to adopt Daisy but acknowledge that buying a puppy isn’t for everyone. They recommend giving Puppies For Rent a try to find out whether or not puppy therapy will prove successful.
“If someone wants to know whether or not puppies help to relieve stress, they should try it out,” Parmley said. “If it doesn’t work for them, then it doesn’t, but it does seem to work for a lot of people, which is why you can see other universities providing students with opportunities to rent puppies.”
Puppies for Rent also caters to students who may not be allowed to permanently have a pet in their apartment but want the benefits of playing with a puppy for a few hours. Lawrence says these types of rental situations seem to be the most common.
“I like Puppies for Rent because I cannot have a pet in my apartment,” said Lauren Lords, from Orem. “This allows me to play with a puppy for a few hours and get my ‘puppy craving’ satisfied.”
Playing with puppies will continue to bring happiness to students around the country as more universities discover the benefits of puppy therapy. Puppy interaction is a successful way to find the balance and loyalty college students crave.
“Puppies like companionship, so they want you to be close to them; there’s not much bad in a puppy,” Lawrence said. “There’s a reason they are considered ‘man’s best friend.'”