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Homesick in College? Try Cuddling Your Pet Dog

Sep 09, 2016 05:26 AM EDT

A surprising and positive way to lower drop-out rates in college is to give homesick students dog therapy.

Results from a new study published in the journal Anthrozoös indicate that homesick college students are more likely to stay in school if they receive pet therapy. Dog therapy sessions include once a week 45 minute sessions of interacting with dogs, their handlers and other students involved in the study.

Every student involved in the study self-identified as being homesick. They were required to complete a survey about their level of homesickness, satisfaction with life and connectedness with campus.

Of the 44 students participating in the study, half received dog therapy for eight weeks and half were told they would start their sessions in 8 weeks time. The students re-took the survey after the 8 weeks passed.

Those who received dog therapy were significantly less homesick and felt more satisfied with life. Students in the control group did not report any relief from their homesickness.

Almost one third of students who dropped out of college reported that they may have stayed longer if they would have had more interactions and friendships with other students.

"Transitioning from high school to university can prove to be a challenge for many first-year students," Assistant Professor at University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus John Tyler Binfet said in a news release.

"Given that students who experience homesickness are more likely than their non-homesick cohorts to drop out of university, universities have a vested interest in supporting students during their first-year transition."

Feelings of community that arise from spending time with dogs and other students will help keep college students in school. Pet therapy is a wonderful natural solution to the anxiety and depression that go hand-in-hand with homesickness.

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