Therapy dog sessions for stressed-out students are an increasingly popular offering at North American universities.
New Canadian research has found that therapy dog sessions on university campuses could help reduce stress and boost students' well-being.
Previous research indicates that female students benefit more from therapy dogs than men, though that was not the case with this study.
Students were free to pet, cuddle and chat with seven to 12 canine companions during the sessions. The student participants also filled out questionnaires immediately before and after the session, and again about 10 hours later.
Students felt significantly less stressed and more energized after interacting with the dogs, though the happy feelings weren't necessarily lasting, the study found.
"The results were remarkable", Stanley Coren, co-author and professor emeritus of psychology at UBC, said in a statement.
"Our findings suggest that therapy dog sessions have a measurable, positive effect on the wellbeing of university students, particularly on stress reduction and feelings of negativity", said lead author Emma Ward-Griffin, Research Assistant at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
They suggest the dogs should be brought in during exam times to help teenagers cope with the pressure.
In addition, having therapy dogs around while students are working on their out-of-class assignments could be even more helpful, researchers said.
Since the strong positive effects of the therapy dog session were short-lived, the researchers concluded that universities should be encouraged to offer them at periods of increased stress.