New research has proven that hanging out with a furry friend while studying has significant benefits for emotional wellbeing.
The ECU project was the first to specifically look at the impact of a wellness dog on paramedicine students.
It involved 89 participants and examined their self-reported emotional wellbeing while the dog was in class.
The study found the presence of wellness dog Watson contributed to students’ overall improved mental health and helped with communication.
“Watson acted as an ice-breaker, creating more opportunities for communication between students and their peers and lecturers, which in turn improved their sense of belonging,” paramedicine lecturer and researcher Lisa Holmes said.
Watson also helped students who were uncomfortable with dogs become more at ease with them, with one participant saying they used to be scared of dogs but now enjoyed having Watson around.
Dr Holmes said the nature of their profession meant paramedicine students should expect some exposure to dogs at work, both as family pets and as working companion dogs.
“Students who had a dog phobia could alert lecturers at any time and Watson would have been removed from the room, but this never occurred,” she said.
“Many students took the opportunity to become acquainted and de-sensitise themselves to dogs in a safe environment.”
Watson is now working on getting used to being in the simulation rooms so he can eventually be part of students’ training scenarios.