Paws on Campus

Paws on Campus is a new canine-assisted intervention for students who are experiencing difficulties due to high stress, anxiety, low mood, or other wellbeing issues. The programme complements other student support services in the University and might be particularly suited to those who enjoy spending time with companion animals or are missing their pets from home. It is available to students on all programmes across the University.

Paws on Campus Logo

Who is Involved? 

Paws on Campus was created by Prof Jo Williams and Dr Laura Wauthier (Clinical and Health Psychology, School of Health in Social Science) and Dr Andrew Gardiner (Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies). Paws on Campus is delivered in collaboration with Canine Concern Scotland who will be providing the registered dogs along with handlers through their Therapets Service. University of Edinburgh student support services and international experts in campus dog programmes have been involved in the design of the programme and have representation on our Advisory Group. 

Where are we based? 

The Paws on Campus is based in the Dick Vet in the Community Clinic on Nicholson Street. This venue is risk assessed for people and animals, and is supported by University security and services, so offers an ideal space for interacting safely with the dogs. 

How can you access Paws on Campus? 

Students must be referred by a student wellbeing advisor, who will ask some simple questions to determine if the programme is right for you. We operate a waiting list but will try to make Paws on Campus available to as many students as possible. Sessions are offered on Wednesday afternoons from 4.00 to 5.30, so students must be free for this time slot.

What does Paws on Campus Involve? 

Once you have been referred you will be invited to complete some onboarding information. You will then be offered a series of four weekly sessions with a small group of other students, and registered therapy dogs and their handlers. During the sessions we will engage in a range of canine-assisted wellbeing exercises including mindfully interacting with the dog, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. The activities have been developed through pilot and co-production work with students from the University of Edinburgh, as well as being based on psychological principles and research on existing therapy dog programmes (mainly in the US and Canada).



Paws on Campus is based on scientific research but we also want to run our own research alongside the programme. So, we will carry out research to measure the efficacy of the Paws on Campus, the mechanisms involved, as well as students’ perceptions of it. We are also keen to ensure the wellbeing of our dogs, so will also be including them in our research too. If you participate in Paws on Campus, you may be invited to participate in research too, but you are under no obligation to take part.  

Related links:

Paws Against Stress

Canine Concern Scotland

Pendry Lab


IAHAIO White paper on AAI

Science of Pets

Related Links

Student Counselling

Student Disability Service

University Chaplaincy


We gratefully acknowledge that funding for this PTAS project was provided by the University of Edinburgh Development Trust. Without this ongoing support PTAS would not be able to fund these projects which do so much for the quality of the student learning experience at the University of Edinburgh. We would like to thank all alumni, staff and other donors who support the Development Trust, including through its unrestricted Edinburgh Fund. 

Find out more about the University of Edinburgh's Development Trust and the Edinburgh Fund.