December 20, 2011; Source: BostInnovation  |  MIT has introduced a new therapeutic approach to study breaks, aiming to relieve stress for students during finals with puppy love. Dog B.O.N.E.S. (Dogs Building Opportunities for Nurturing and Emotional Support) is a Massachusetts therapy-dog nonprofit that has provided dogs to MIT college campus libraries this week for alternative study breaks. The organization provides well-trained, affectionate, insured therapy-dog teams for visits free of charge. The first study break, titled “Cookies with Canines,” had a successful turnout, with hundreds of students flocking to play with the pups. Dog B.O.N.E.S. has also provided dog visits to other universities, and came to Tufts University during midterms this year.

Therapy dogs are commonly used for hospitals and nursing facilities, but they are becoming an increasingly popular study break strategy for universities during exams, when stress is high. Ellen F. Duranceau, program manager for Scholarly Publishing and Licensing, helped organize and launch the event at MIT after hearing that Yale Law School’s library had introduced a rental program earlier in 2011 for students to check out a therapy dog for one half hour. Yale Law School librarian Blair Kauffman wrote in an e-mail to students, “It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness and overall emotional well-being.”.

Dog B.O.N.E.S. will be bringing in the canines on Tuesday and Thursday to campus libraries for an hour and a half for finals week. Bringing dogs into college campuses for needed playtime is an innovative way to alleviate stress, generate positive attitudes, and raise students happiness. We wonder if MIT will be releasing any statistics on if the alternative study breaks affect student performance or test scores.—Aine Creedon