In the Faculty of Education Sciences of the University of Granada, with the impulse of the Deanery and the direction of the Library, the first activities of the « Stress-less: take my paws » program have begun to be developed (No Stress: take my legs), to promote the welfare of students at the University of Granada through assisted intervention with dogs.
As the promoters of the project explain « the problem of increased stress among university students is beginning to be recognized as a challenge for educational institutions and, especially, for universities. As part of a stressed society, university students are no stranger to states of anxiety and high stress when faced with exam periods. » So they are promoting the use on the campus of domestic animals and, especially, dogs trained for therapy or intervention with humans, thus trying to combat the stress of the exam time, reduce distress and avoid early abandonment that can Go associated with these processes.
« Some examples of these innovations can be found in universities such as Yale or Harvard, which have relaxation rooms with dogs, so that students can visit them and rest interacting with animals. Perhaps among the universities that have advanced the most in this innovative process We can highlight the Kennesaw State University of Georgia, in which there is the traveling program « Dog on Campus », which uses therapy animals for interaction with students of all its colleges, and that of Stephens College of Columbia (Missouri), which it has become the first “pet friendly” campus (accepts pets) worldwide, ”explains Marisa Hernández Ríos, Vice Dean of University Extension and Social Responsibility of the Faculty of Education Sciences.
In Spain this type of program has not yet been generalized, there is a pioneering example at the Complutense University « Compludog », with the support of the Affinity Foundation, which has been studying stress reduction in students, PDI and PAS for several years, by using therapy dogs. A similar pilot study has also been carried out at the UNED in Orense.
The project at the Faculty of Education Sciences is based on promoting an innovation process in the organization of learning environments at the University of Granada, through the application of assisted interventions with dogs (IAP), carrying out a parallel research to know its real impact, both with qualitative instruments – questionnaires and interviews applied to students – as well as quantitative -measures of physiological variables of students and dogs-.
The professors of the University of Granada that promote this project are José Gijón Puerta, full professor of the Department of Didactics and School Organization, and Miguel Botella López, emeritus professor of the Department of Legal Medicine, Toxicology and Physical Anthropology. Likewise, Marisa Hernández Ríos, Vice Dean of University Extension and Social Responsibility, and Margarita Ramírez Reyes, Head of Service of the Library of the Faculty of Education Sciences, participate in the organization. The dogs that have intervened with the students have been trained by the Hachiko company directed by Nicolás Montes, a student graduated from Pedagogy.
This project requires the participation and support of the students, in addition to the active involvement of the libraries, and the participation of the management bodies of the centers, in order to develop intervention activities with dogs.
Phase 1 is currently being developed, which includes the presentation of the project and recruitment of participants during the first semester of the 2019/20 course. Assisted intervention sessions with dogs have already been developed in the Library of the Faculty of Education Sciences, during the exam period.