About 1,000 universities in the United States have been bringing in therapy dogs to their campuses, but some claim their benefits are often “anecdotal.”

However, experts now show an objective evidence to prove the effect of dogs they have on people.

Patricia Pendry from Washington State University recently published her study on dogs and how “soothing” sessions with them could actually lessen stress.

Studying more than 300 undergraduates that were under too much stress and were at a “high risk of academic failure” have felt “relaxed and accepted” thanks to long hour sessions with dogs brought by professional handlers to the university. Pendry said the dogs have helped them concentrate better and remember more information.

The help of therapy dogs in campuses is also becoming more common in the United Kingdom – Buckingham, University College London, Cambridge, Nottingham Trent, London Metropolitan and Swansea among others.

“There does seem to be something specific about the reducing of anxiety from the petting of animals,” Pendry told BBC in an interview.

“Do we fully understand the mechanism? No,” Professor Nancy Gee, a psychologist at the State University of New York and researcher from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, said. “[But students appeared to] feel calmer and more socially supported.”

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