THE PROGRAMME TOOK PLACE DURING THE ACADEMIC YEAR 2013-2014
Following the Puppy-Room for Stressed Students model (Dalhousie University, Canada), UBB and USAMV CN students now could reduce their stress levels associated with exams during the session by interacting with therapy dogs (and in training), under the supervision of teams specialized in animal-assisted activities.
The “Keep calm with dogs” project at the Viviariul UBB is aimed at students from Babeș-Bolyai University and the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine and involves activities to reduce in-session stress (through interactions with certified therapy dogs, but also with dogs in training at our association). The project, carried out through the collaboration of Dog Assist with UBB-ICIOA and USAMV Cluj-Napoca, aims to give students the opportunity to interact with dogs in structured or free activities to make the learning process more efficient.
Although focused on reducing stress levels during the session, the Keep calm with dog’s program aims to extend the benefits of human-dog interaction throughout the semester, to make the learning process more efficient, given the scientifically proven effects of this type of interaction on improving working memory, task performance and executive attention.
Where and when will Keep calm with dogs take place?
Location: UBB Vivarium (Clinics Street 5-7), side entrance (ground floor).
When: Saturdays (5pm – 8pm).
How will the Keep calm with dog’s programme work?
The announcement of the anti-stress activities will be made at the beginning of each week on the Facebook page of the programme.
Registration of students to participate in the activities will be available on the programme’s Facebook page. The organizers of the activities will specify each time the maximum number of students who can participate in the activities scheduled for each meeting.
The aim of the activities with therapy dogs is to improve the psycho-social functioning of the students (emotional, cognitive, and behavioural level) by:
- Reducing stress levels associated with certain tasks and situations (exams, meeting submission deadlines, public support of projects);
- Increasing subjective happiness and other positive emotions.
- Development of mindfulness skills.
Examples of exercises:
- Developing a specific dog trail.
- Walking on a leash.
- Brushing and grooming.
- Interactive ball game – dyadic (human-dog) or cooperative (group of students and dog);
- making dog toys (following the principle of dynamic prototyping – making a product according to the animal’s need);
- learning and practising behavioural tricks, e.g.: the little man, shyness.
- Board games (Katan, Chess, Scrabble, etc.) in the presence of therapy dogs.
- Hiding and finding the wrongs with the help of the dogs.
- Competitions involving animals – e.g. Happy Tails competition – who can get a dog to wag its tail the most;
- Development of specific costumes for dogs involved in Therapeutic Social Stories.
- Elements of dog-dancing – with value in focusing attention on body movements and human-dog coordination.
The tools that will be used to measure the expected effects of the interaction with the dogs on a psychological and physiological level will be:
- Standard psychometric scales (to measure stress levels, positive emotion levels, mindfulness skills);
- Standard digital blood pressure monitors (to measure blood pressure as an indicator of the relaxation process);
Who will coordinate the anti-stress activities?
- Members of the Dog Assist Association from Cluj-Napoca (specialists in animal assisted therapy and dog training, psychotherapy and psychological counselling, volunteers with dogs in training) and therapy dogs Bailey, Bes and Dersou;
- Specialists in human-animal interaction from the UBB consortium (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences), USAMV CN (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), Institute for Research on Human-Animal Interaction (Turda Zoo);
- UBB Vivarium team;
“Keep calm with dogs” invites you to register from the Thursday of the week in which you want to participate by going to http://tinyurl.com/keepcalmwithdogs.
All those who sign up for the Saturday meeting will receive a confirmation email with the group they are in and the time they are expected.