Pet therapy for homesickness: coming to a campus near you

By September, college campuses are buzzing with life. But for some first year students, that excitement is tempered with homesickness that translates into dropout rates. Canine relief is now a valid antidote, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada recently concluded that animal-assisted therapy not only helps students combat homesickness. It is also useful in in lowering post-secondary dropout rates. The study was published in the journal Anthrozoös on Aug. 17.

In the study, 44 first-year university students who self-identified as homesick were given a survey to measure levels of homesickness, satisfaction with life, and connectedness with campus.

Half of the students completed eight weeks of dog therapy, while the other half were informed that their sessions would begin in eight weeks’ time. Dog therapy included 45-minute weekly sessions involving small group interactions with the dogs and handlers, and engagement with other first-year students participating in the study.

Following the initial eight-week session, participants in both the treatment group and the non-treatment group completed the survey again.

Participants who completed the eight-week program experienced significant reductions in homesickness and a greater increase in satisfaction with life. They reported that sessions “felt like they were at home chatting with friends who brought their puppies.” The non-treatment group reported an increase in their feelings of homesickness.

NEWStat Advancements & research News