PAWS Your Stress: The Student Experience of Therapy Dog Programming

  • Rebecca Lalonde University of Saskatchewan
  • Colleen Dell
  • Tim Claypool


Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) programs have emerged as a popular form of support for students. This study is an in-depth, qualitative examination of the experiences and perspectives of four frequent student participants of an AAA program at a Midwestern Canadian university. Semi-structured interviews resulted in identification of common themes in the student experience. Participants reported that the program provided opportunities to be in-the-moment, facilitated social connections, and complemented existing healthy coping skills. Students also expressed feeling loved, comforted, and supported. Implications and recommendations for AAA programming in a post-secondary setting are discussed.

Research Study/Recherche