Edmonton·Video

Study to look at benefits of therapy dog for NAIT students hounded by stress

Those studying at NAIT can get a helping paw from the school's certified therapy dog, an Australian Labradoodle named Flynn. Now a study funded by Alberta Blue Cross seeks to determine exactly what impact Flynn is having on students

Flynn the therapy dog calms the nerves of NAIT students

6 years ago
Duration 1:15
The Australian Labradoodle regularly visits the NAIT campus with student well-being facilitator Linda Shaw. Together they help students dealing with stress and anxiety.

With the dog days of summer behind us, stress levels for students are hitting the roof.

Or should that be woof?

But at NAIT, students can get a helping paw from the school's certified therapy dog, an Australian Labradoodle named Flynn.

Now a study funded by Alberta Blue Cross will try to determine exactly what impact Flynn has on students - you might even call it a lab report.

Flynn the NAIT therapy dog is available by appointment to help students deal with stress.

Visits with the dog are regularly scheduled and held in a number of locations. Flynn is also available on a drop-in basis and there is a play area for interaction.

As part of the study, students who visit the canine therapist are asked a series of questions.

"The students fill out a university/college survey and NAIT's done its own survey as well," said student well-being facilitator Linda Shaw. "Some of the questions were related to anxiety and stress. And they all indicated the students are all feeling anxious and stressed, more than ever before."

According to Shaw, there's already evidence of the benefits of the human/hound interactions.

"There's lots of research that's been going on over the last few years," said Shaw. "What Flynn does is, if you enjoy being with animals and you interact with an animal, your body actually releases hormones that help you relax and feel good. And then that allows your mind to shift and get better focused."

Flynn has been NAIT's dog in residence since 2014, and Shaw has witnessed his influence on students' moods and attitudes.

"Lots of positive (pawsitive) reaction. The best part really for me is that students will tell me a story about an interaction they had with Flynn that I didn't realize was so impactful to them."

The study seeks to confirm what Shaw and the students already know, that when this dog-eat-dog world gets you down, Flynn can help get your tail wagging again.

now