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Students from the University of Pretoria got to ease some of their exam stress thanks to the work being done by adorable therapy dogs.


Pretoria, South Africa (16 November 2023) – Studies show that a mere five minutes of interaction with therapy dogs can reduce stress and induce relaxation. With the final exam season approaching, the University of Pretoria’s Department of Library Services (DLS) has teamed up with Touch Our Pets Therapy Dogs (TOP Dogs), to embark on a furry adventure, bringing students animal-assisted therapy to help them de-stress.

“The Department of Library Services has the well-being of UP students at heart,” said Elsabe Olivier, Assistant Director of Marketing and Quality Assurance at the DLS. “We know how stressful exams can be and we want to support them, not only with library resources, spaces and knowledgeable staff members, but also with initiatives such as this that offer them an opportunity to relax.”

The mission of TOP Dogs is to spread comfort and companionship to those in need, including those at hospitals, care facilities and schools. The therapy dogs are carefully chosen and impeccably trained to offer emotional support. Good Things Guy just reported on their efforts earlier this week and we love seeing the work in action.

This initiative, launched in 2019, has garnered significant popularity among students as they prepare for their exams. It has witnessed enthusiastic participation from a wide array of students, who eagerly embraced the “pawsitive” energy infusion in anticipation of the semester’s final leg. The event primarily drew undergraduate students, comprising 57% of the attendees, with notable representation from postgraduate students, and academic faculty and professional staff members.

According to a short survey run by the DLS, students felt that interacting with the dogs reduced their stress levels, calmed them down and improved their emotional well-being.

Psychology honours student Katya Patterson is completing her proposal for a master’s in Psychology. Her research explores the well-being of students through interaction with animals.

“This is such a positive initiative,” Patterson said. “Many students cannot afford to get access to mental support, so this bridges the gap for those who are unable to get the help they need, especially now with the year-end fatigue and exam pressure.”

“I enjoyed this so much,” said Khono Mbaki, a BSc Biochemistry student majoring in Human Physiology. “I even forgot that I was a student for a little while. I felt so relaxed and enjoyed all the cuddles with the dogs.”

“We will definitely continue hosting more of these sessions, especially during mid-year and end-of-year exam periods,” Olivier said.

Sources: University of Pretoria
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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