The purpose of the present study was to determine whether first-year college students’ interaction with a dog would have a positive effect on their mood and anxiety. A sample of 35 first-year college students, aged 18-19 years, was partially randomly assigned to a condition for five minutes in which the participant either interacted with a dog (n = 19) or watched an informational video that included dogs (n = 16). Before the experimental treatment, students completed the Pet Attitude Scale, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule-Expanded Form, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Perceived Stress Reactivity Scale to evaluate their animal preferences, mood, anxiety, and stress. After the experimental treatment, participants again completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule-Expanded Form and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory to assess for possible changes in mood and anxiety. Results indicated that those who directly interacted with the dog reported increases in positive mood, but those who just watched dogs did not. All participants, regardless of condition, experienced declines in negative mood and anxiety across time. Thus, there appear to be some benefits to interacting with dogs, specifically regarding improvements in positive mood. Further studies, especially those with larger sample sizes and that take place during times of elevated stress are needed in order to more fully examine the potential for positive effects of dog interactions on college students.
Picard, Mariah J., "Study of the Effect of Dogs on College Students' Mood and Anxiety" (2015). Honors College. 233.