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The Impact of The Presence of a Dog on Mood

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The purpose of this current study is to determine whether a dog being present can change an individual’s mood. A sample of 10-12 participants will have the chance to interact with a therapy dog that is being brought to campus during exam week. Before starting the experiment, the individuals will fill out a demographic questionnaire providing some personal information for the study and the PANAS-X mood scale to determine their mood before interaction with the dog. After the participants have interacted with the dog, they will be asked to fill out the PANAS-X mood scale again to evaluate whether their mood has changed for better or worse. The research will look at mood assessment and determine that interaction with a dog will have a positive effect on an individual’s mood.

Students at all educational levels, whether it be middle school, high school, or college, will have an overload of stress and anxiety at one point or another throughout their school years. That overload can significantly affect their mood in a beneficial or harmful manner if they do not have a way to relieve their built-up tension. For example, animal-assisted interventions are becoming more popular among universities because they show that interactions between the students and dogs have a positive effect on the student’s health and their well-being.

An individual’s mood plays a huge role in their everyday life. Mood has a large impact on their allied cognitive processes, decisions making, memory, and learning (Forgas & Eich, 2013). Places that can largely impact a person’s overall mood and well-being include work, home, and school. Student mental health, resilience, and well-being are common concerns among colleges that can affect how the student performs in the classroom, how he or she performs in their daily life, and on exams (Grajfoner, Harte, Potter, & McGuigan, 2017). Animal-assisted interventions are becoming more popular among universities because studies show that interactions between the students and dogs have a positive effect on the student’s health and their well-being. Because of these animal-assisted interventions, anxiety and negative mood seem to be reduced and feelings of love and support are noticeably increased (Grajfoner et al., 2017).

The number of studies about humans’ psychological interaction with dogs were minimal compared to studies about human-animal interaction (HAI) with statistical barriers. Gee, Griffin, and McCardle (2017) focus on the issue of sparse data collecting the actual nature and extent of human-animal interaction (HAI) in classroom settings. Others dispute the involvement of animals in the classroom and how they can have an effect on learning by directly influencing motivation, self-regulation, engagement, and human social interaction through embedded interaction of animals. HAI activities benefit children by improving their social interaction and reinforce motivation, engagement, and learning. More concrete evidence will be necessary to support this theory to educate practices and policies to allow HAI in schools, interventions, and activities.

The number of roles that dogs serve to help humans adapt to their surroundings and environment are vast. Schoenfeld-Tacher, Hellyer, Cheung, and Kogan (2017) discuss the controversy of legitimacy involving service dogs, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs. There is lack of objective data when looking at the public’s perception of roles played by each type of helping dog and regarding integration legitimacy. An online, anonymous survey was sent out to United States adults who do not own a type of assistance animal in order to study their perception on the matter. Two-hundred and eighty-four useable responses were examined and results were able to determine general misconceptions about regulations, definitions, rights, and rules associated with each type of helping canine. Service dogs are typically seen as helpful to those that have a legitimate need for them and usually favor access to public places. Legitimacy concerns and access rights for emotional support dogs are continuing to have some concerns, but the public are addressing the rights and roles of therapy dogs in a correct manner.

It was not until the last 30 years, that studies revealed how human-animal interactions, especially dogs, can influence the psyche of students. Adams, Clark, Crowell, Duffy, and Green (2017) discuss how college is a stressful time for students who deal with problems like anxiety, depression, and stress. They go into detail about the current trend among universities that is giving students an opportunity to interact with animals, including dogs, as a cost-effective alternative to the typical counseling services that are usually offered. Their paper shows current research that has been previously discussed in regards to animal based treatment against problems that college students may face. They then describe their own experiences with university-sponsored animal-interactions and conclude that animals play an important role as a form of treatment for students dealing with stress, depression, and anxiety. Dell, Chalmers, Gillett, Rohr, Nickel, Campbell, Hanoski, Haugerud, Husband, Stephenson, and Brydges (2015) reflect on the timeless issue of student mental health among college campuses but instead using animal-assisted intervention as a response. The article follows the immediate and three-month results of a starter study at three Canadian universities who all will go through the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program.

A sample of 403 students responded to feeling emotions of love and support from the therapy dogs. A conclusion of mental health support is understood as relaxing and feelings of distress when interacting with the dogs. These conclusions drawn from the studies of HAI continued to grow, but also served more of an argumentative purpose. Barker, Barker, McCain, and Schubert (2016) carried out the experimental study to investigate visiting therapy dogs effect on college students physiological and perceived stress the week before final exams. Seventy-eight students were assigned at random to a fifteen-minute long therapy-dog intervention and attention-control condition. They found that campus events involving therapy dog coming to visit and interact with students is a cost-effective activity to reduce perceived, but not physiological, stress on college students a week prior to final exams.

When the mood and stress levels of students were viewed beyond final exam time, data noted some statistics on the overall stress of college life beyond the classroom. Grajfoner, Harte, Potter, and McGuigan (2017) conducted an experiment with one hundred and thirty-two university students, either in an experimental condition or one of the two controlled conditions, to investigate if a twenty minute, dog-assisted intervention would affect the student’s well-being, mood, and anxiety. Participants would either interact with both the dog and its handlers, just the dog, or just the handler, depending on the condition they were placed in. The results showed significant differences for each condition in which the dog was present leading large improvements in mood and well-being, as well as reduced anxiety. The purpose of this proposal is to gather and evaluate data that is specifically targeted to college students’ moods before and after interaction with dogs.

Many of the articles reviewed directed research to innumerable variables, such as HAI with stress, well-being and anxiety related factors. Human-animal interaction has extensive effects such as the following: classroom emotional settings, human adapting to their surroundings, recovery from dramatic events, emotional support and college students’ psychological welfare. Because of limited research, there has been no widely accepted framework to further guide research on HAI with specific reasoning in reference to humans and dogs. A need for further research on human interaction and mood related connections to dogs is needed in order to establish a basis for concrete evidence and a framework applicable to human-animal interaction.

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The Impact Of The Presence Of A Dog On Mood. (2019, August 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from
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