Measuring the Impact of Therapy Dog Interaction on Stress Levels

After getting to know each other and learning more about what the project would entail, the first week consisted of literature searches and working with the iWorx Lab Scribe program for Dr. Trujillo’s Dog Therapy group. The overall goal for the group this summer is to come up with an accurate protocol for measuring stress after interaction with a therapy dog.  

During the first week the group brainstormed and researched the best methods for measuring stress. The group came up with many options such as blood pressure, pulse, hand temperature, galvanic skin response (GSR), salivary cortisol levels, breathing rate and surveys/ questionnaires. The group is particularly interested in salivary cortisol levels because it seems most accurate and most commonly used; however, it may not be feasible due to time and money constraints.

The group also spent time brainstorming on the type of population to conduct the study on; with college students, school aged children and nursing home populations being the top populations of interest. The group spent much time getting familiar with the iWorx Lab Scribe program and testing out GSR, hand temperature and the continuous pulse labs. Learning how to operate the programs and getting the equipment to work has turned out to be a more complicated task than expected. ImageThe group is also trying to come up with an activity that creates stress that can be tested by the program. We have experimented with sudokus, mad minute math worksheets, and oral math. We will also be looking into short term memory tasks in causing stress. The challenge is coming up with a stressful activity that involves minimal movement. The group is also hard at work doing individual research in order to compile resources that will be used to create a large bibliography that will be useful down the road. We get to meet a real therapy dog soon!

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