Dog Therapy

Student holding and looking at a Golden Retriever dog.
Students with a terrier dog
 Students outside petting a black and gray dog
 Black lab at Stress Less Week in Armstrong staring straight at the camera
 Golden retriever being pet by the hand of an unseen person

The Student Counseling Service (SCS) is pleased to offer Dog Therapy!

A primary goal of SCS is to promote positive mental health and well-being among Miami University students and our dog therapy program is one way we meet this goal. Interacting with animals is a proven way to decrease stress and feel a sense of connection and acceptance.

Weekly Dog Therapy Times (starts 9/7/23)

Clinical Health Sciences and Wellness Building Room 2002 

Mondays, 2-3 p.m. 
Thursdays, 3-4 p.m. 

Therapy Dog Day at Midterms

Tuesday, October 10th, 1-4 p.m. 

Outdoor Seal (Rain location: Shriver Center)

Meet Okie


Okie is a 3 year old American pitbull terrier mix and handled by Mary O' Leary. He was adopted after a foster failure and it was obvious he was meant to be hers. He loves squeaky toys and enjoys a cheese treat (and honestly all treats and snacks). You can meet Okie Mondays 2-3 pm, at our larger dog events and at requested meetings. 

Meet Enya


Enya is a 9 year old Irish red and white Setter handled by Mary O'Leary. She has been a therapy dog for several years after coming out of the show ring. She has also done a little bit of obedience work and is an AKC Champion. She loves cheese and any attention you can give her. Enya is usually at our larger dog events, some requested meetings and when the weather is warm, on site Mondays 2-3pm.

Meet Duck


Duck is a 6 year old Black English Labrador and is handled by Marilyn C. He has been a therapy dog for 5 years and has worked with children, college students and adults. Duck enjoys salmon flavored treats, sleeping, and belly rubs. You can meet Duck on Thursdays 3-4 pm and at our larger events. 

What is Dog Therapy?

According to the Therapy Dogs International (TDI) website, the primary objective of the therapy dog and handler is to provide comfort and companionship to increase emotional well-being, promote healing, and improve the quality of life for those who interact with the therapy dog. “Four-footed therapists give something special to enhance the health and well-being of others. It has been clinically proven that through petting, touching, and talking with animals, patients’ blood pressure is lowered, stress is relieved, and depression is eased.”

At the Student Counseling Service (SCS), we believe that having an opportunity to interact with our amazing therapy dogs provides a calm, centering experience in a stressful week or semester. Students meeting with the dogs report that they feel accepted, loved, and cheered by the animals’ unqualified affection and warmth. Meeting with a therapy dog offers a chance for hugs, pets, perhaps a doggy kiss, and lots of non-verbal sharing. Students may interact at their comfort level. Our therapy dog handlers will help with those who may be “dog-shy” and of course, will always be there to assure that all interaction is safe for everyone involved. They will also happily engage in conversation and answer any questions about their therapy dogs.

Who may benefit from Dog Therapy?

Any student who likes dogs or feels peace and connection in interacting with animals may benefit from attending a Dog Therapy event. Those with anxiety, depression, loss issues, loneliness and homesickness may especially benefit. But you do not need to have a “mental health concern” to visit and enjoy a session with our Therapy Dogs—any student stressed by a demanding schedule, distance from loved ones, or perhaps especially missing a family pet companion is welcome at Dog Therapy events.

Are the dogs certified and insured?

Our therapy dogs are temperament-tested and formally trained in the role of Therapy Dog. Ms. Mary O’Leary is our SCS handler, and she brings years of extensive experience in rescuing, training, testing and handling therapy dogs. Her therapy dogs are currently certified through Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD). The therapy dogs are temperament tested, certified, and insured as members of TDI, or Alliance of Therapy Dogs. 

For larger events, we also may include some dogs from the Hamilton Dog Training Club and other local dog training organizations or therapy dog organizations (e.g. Pet Partners, Alliance of Therapy Dogs). 

What is the cost for Dog Therapy services?

All Dog therapy services are provided on a volunteer basis by the dog handlers. There is no cost for attending the one-to-one open therapy hours at the SCS. Similarly, attending a Dog Therapy event like Therapy Dog Day at Midterms/Finals is cost-free, as is arranging a visit to a campus residence hall or officially sanctioned student organization.

How do I arrange for the Therapy dogs to visit my Campus Group/Organization, Class or for a Residence Hall Event? 

We are unable to accomodate individual student requests for a therapy dog visit due to current demand, and primarily reserve our therapy dog visits and events for campus groups/organizations, academic departments and offices, classroom visits, or residence hall visits through ORL. Ask your Resident Advisor, Resident Director, group leader(s), professor or staff to submit the request. We ask that you submit a request at least 2 weeks before the event to allow for planning. 

We ask that the host of the visit provide a public space that is easily accessible. You need to provide a bowl of fresh, clean water for the dogs, chair for the handler, and for indoor spaces, we also ask that there be a carpet/rug for the dogs to sit on. If the original plan is to host the dogs outside, please also have a back up indoor location in case of weather. The safety of our dogs is paramount so we ask that the location be free of anything dangerous to animals and that those attending be sober and maintain a welcoming atmosphere for the animals. No other animals or food is permitted in the area of the therapy dog. The handler will remain with the dogs at all times during a visit. 

Please complete the provided request form here:  

Dog Therapy Request Form

We reserve the right to cancel a visit or leave an event early if there is any question of safety for the handler or the animals. 

Can I volunteer as a student with the therapy dog program?

Unfortunately, no. Due to the nature and certification of our therapy dogs, they are only allowed to be handled and controlled by their tested handler/owner. You are more than welcome to attend as many therapy dog events as you would like and share your experience with others. 

We hope to see you at one of our events soon.

Thank you!