Pet Therapy

Pet Therapy for Student Mental Health

Pet TherapyJennifer Keough, Counsellor in the Olds College Student Health and Wellness Centre, has partnered with a local volunteer organization called Buff Co. Animal Assisted Therapy Alberta, to bring dogs on campus for pet therapy. The on-campus group consists of Jennifer as the mental health professional, a canine specialist, and 12 dedicated dog/handler teams. These highly trained therapy dogs consist of a mix of small and large breeds, german shepherds, golden retrievers, dash hounds, and a giant bernese mountain dog.

The dogs have also been requested for a number of campus events such as exam weeks, Long Night Against Procrastination, Mental Health Week, Pink Shirt Day, and more. There have also been occasions when the dogs have been requested during high stress times where dog/handler teams will come during the day and engage with the students in the library or the halls for the students. Students can also request a therapy dog for their individual sessions as a dog can also be provided in the Health and Wellness Centre.

Pet therapy group and individual sessions have provided many benefits to the students, including:

  • Providing a calm and relaxing environment
  • Decreasing home sickness
  • Improving mood and moral
  • Creating social opportunities/skills and opportunities to connect with their peers
  • Decreasing feelings of anxiety, depression and stress
  • Providing a communication bridge (many students will talk about the dogs to each other)
  • Providing an opportunity to bond with a dog
  • Reducing isolation

Pet Therapy

“We have noticed that with pet therapy, some students have become more willing to participate in activities with their peers, reducing isolation,” Jennifer explains. “Wellness Services has also noticed more students engaging with us and inquiring about our services.”

If you have any questions about Pet Therapy, please contact counsellor@oldscollege.ca, or stop by Health and Wellness Services on the lower level of the Learning Resource Centre, underneath The Learning Commons.