The Benefits of Therapy Dogs in School & Why WPHS Needs One


Ava Schmidt, Reporter

I’m pretty sure we all know how amazing dogs are; they’re funny, loyal, and make everyone happy. But did you know that dogs actually have huge mental and physical health benefits? As crazy as it may sound, it’s true, and this can be applied in schools with the help of therapy dogs. 

Therapy dogs decrease stress levels and improve mental health. The Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale implemented the use of therapy dogs to help the students alleviate stress and cope with the anxieties that they faced. Petting a dog when you’re stressed helps to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases your levels of serotonin, making you feel a lot better. As students and teachers are able to allay this stress, anxiety, or whatever may be going on, they are able to feel more positive, which allows students to do better work in school.

It has been proven that having a therapy dog in a classroom improves a student’s ability to problem-solve, improve focus and memory, and increase self-esteem. The presence of a therapy dog in the classroom has even been linked to improved attendance rates and participation in activities. Dogs act as really good companions for us humans. No matter what, you know that your dog will be there for you, supporting you and being your rock. They help give purpose to life. This explains why self-esteem and attendance seem to improve.

From kindergarten to college, schools are starting to implement therapy dogs into their campuses to help the students. They may not come in every day, but they make a huge difference in the environment of these schools. When the world gets back to normal again, WPHS should consider having a local therapy dog (or even just a well-mannered dog of a staff or faculty member) come in a few days a week. We’d quickly start to see a difference in the mental health of students and possibly even an increase in participation in school activities. There is way more research on the benefits of therapy dogs in school than is in this article, as well as programs that have tons of resources for teachers, like the Mutt-i-grees program from researchers at Yale.

Picture Credit: Stacey Wescott | Chicago Tribune