Even the most adamant cat person can admit that dogs are great. Cute little furry balls of happiness, pooches make everything better, and you know they are always as happy to see you as you are to see them. In fact, one University in Washington D.C is letting students practice for presentations in front of dogs to help reduce their anxiety.
Anxiety over public speaking is nothing new and is surprisingly common. Unfortunately, for those of us who get anxious about talking in front of crowds, it is an integral part of college, and future working life. Even as an accountant, you may be asked to do presentations at work. That’s why this is a skill that is so important to learn while at college.
Kogod School of Business
The idea of having a doggy audience came from the Kogod School of Business in 2016 and has since had a great uptake. The theory is that just being around a dog can make you feel happier and more relaxed and you, therefore, do a better job. If, when you practice, you do a great job, you will feel more confident for the next time you do your presentation, in front of a real audience. Research showed that after just 30 minutes of performing their presentation to a dog, the students felt that their anxiety about it had decreased.
Interestingly, there is nothing special about these dogs. They have not been trained to sit and listen; they are just regular local dogs. Of course, they have been chosen as they are very loving, and secure, and great at maintaining eye contact, something that is very important when doing a speech. Of course, dogs aren’t always perfect, and sometimes they will get bored (it’s nothing personal!) but just having them in the room really helps.
The red tape
Of course, when you want to bring in non-medical dogs, there are a lot of hoops to jump through (excuse the pun!). Some people were a little skeptical of the programme when it first started, but the popularity and results speak for themselves. One rule that comes with these sessions is that there must always be a third person in the room with the student and the dog. The dog must be kept on a leash and wear a (pretty stylish!) red bandana so that it is clear what they are in the building for. Dogs are given treats for being involved and treated well, although students do have to sign a waiver acknowledging the risks of being near any animals – eek!
If you don’t go to this college, you probably don’t have access to this programme, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to your advantage. If you have a dog (or could even borrow one for an evening!), why not try it out for yourself. PRactising doing your presentation or giving a speech to your beloved pooch and see how you feel after 30 minutes. Probably best not to use a cat though, we all know they are far too sassy!