Date of Award

Summer 8-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

George Noell

Committee Member

James F. Paulson

Committee Member

Matt Henson


Many young adults find their college years to be highly stressful. The American College Health Association (2021) found 48% of college students reported moderate to severe levels of psychological stress. Research has found that chronic stress, commonly found in the college population, can adversely affect the health and academic performance of college students (Campbell & Svenson, 1992). Universities have begun experimenting with and adopting a variety of strategies to help students manage stressors associated with college attendance. These initiatives have included relatively well-researched procedures such as meditation and yoga as well as emerging practices. Recently, some colleges have begun testing dog-assisted therapy programs on campuses. However, relatively little is known about the efficacy of dog-assisted therapy or how it compares to other single-session interventions that can be provided by universities. Using sixty-five undergraduate students at Old Dominion University, the following study compared two active interventions (DAT and MSBR) to a control condition for mood change and examined the potential correlation between Dog Attitude Scores and mood affect change scores for DAT participants. Results indicated both interventions did better at improving affect scores than the control group, with DAT having a better statistically significant score for positive affect and sensation seeking than MBSR. Additionally, no correlations were found between Dog Attitude Scores and affect change for the DAT group. It is suggested that future studies aim to have larger, more varied samples in the future and further examine how the duration of a DAT intervention affects mood change.


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