The Impact Of Therapy Dogs In The Classroom Melts The Stress Away

With school back in session after the holidays, you may have noticed heightened child or student stress levels. It takes a while to get back in the school groove whether in kindergarten or getting a PHD!  Therapy dogs across the nation are being utilized to reduce stress and enhance students’ wellbeing.

In a recent study conducted by PLOS Research Network, therapy dogs were placed in school settings as animal assisted intervention tools (AAI). Through the set of snuggly scientific sessions evaluating individual versus group doggo therapy and doggo relaxation techniques, it was determined that children’s cortisol levels drastically decreased when AAI tools were in place (Meints et al.).

Fig 6. Mainstream schools: Mean acute cortisol before and after individual intervention sessions week 1, 4 and 8 (S1, S4, S8).

Fig 6. Mainstream schools: Mean acute cortisol before and after individual intervention sessions week 1, 4 and 8 (S1, S4, S8).

Image Courtesy of: The Vintage News

What is cortisol, you may ask? According to Cleveland Clinic, cortisol is the hormone in our bodies that regulates our blood pressure, our blood sugar, and most important to this study, our stress levels throughout the day (2021). A decrease in cortisol levels equates to less stress and more productivity, learning capacity, and even healing ability.

Therapy dogs have been used to reduce stress in the United States since World War II; the first ever was a rescue terrier named Smokey who kept soldiers’ company on missions and throughout their recovery thereafter (Dog Day Afternoon, 2020).  Since then, therapy dogs have swept through healthcare settings to comfort patients in their times of need… so why not place them in schools?

Image Courtesy of: PLOS ONE

As of January 5th, 2023, Animal Therapy Statistics reports that 60% of colleges in the United States have a pet therapy program in place! It’s time that this AAI trickle down into primary education settings, don’t you think? 

To see if your child’s school qualifies for a therapy doggo, visit: 



Don’t be shy! Advocate your school district to get animal assisted intervention in the classroom today, and see the PAWsitive changes in your child’s stress level and education for years to come.

Article Resources:

Cleveland Clinic. “Cortisol: What It Is, Function, Symptoms & Levels.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 10 Dec. 2021,

Covinton, Taylor. “Animal Therapy Statistics.” The Zebra, Insurance Zebra, 5 Jan. 2023, Accessed 17 Jan. 2023.

Dog Day Afternoon. “Therapy Dogs - a Brief History.” Dog Day Afternoon, 9 Apr. 2020,

Meints, Kerstin, et al. “Can Dogs Reduce Stress Levels in School Children? Effects of Dog-Assisted Interventions on Salivary Cortisol in Children with and without Special Educational Needs Using Randomized Controlled Trials.” PLOS ONE, vol. 17, no. 6, 15 June 2022, p. e0269333, 10.1371/journal.pone.0269333. Accessed 21 June 2022.

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