A study at Washington State University focused on college students, especially those students who may be at risk due to mental health issues or learning issues. The researchers developed a four-week program where students interacted with dogs for ten minutes a day. They found that the decreased stress levels lasted for six weeks.
Petting the dogs improved the student’s ability to plan, organize, concentrate, memorize and increased their motivation. The results showed that the students who were most at risk had the most improvements.
Author’s note: I believe that as researchers continue to refine their studies on the benefits that pets in general have on all people, they will be able to recommend the use of therapy animals in more specific ways.