By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Students at St. Joseph’s University today were taking a break from studying for final exams to de-stress, by petting some pooches.

A group of students sat in a circle in the library and watched as Cheryl Bittner’s therapy dog, Tucker, did some tricks.

The eight-year-old, schnauzer/poodle mix was one of  17 canines visiting on campus that are certified with Therapy Dogs International (TDI)

“Actually, I have a dog that almost looks just like this, so it’s good getting to pet him because it kind of feels like I’m home,” said freshman Peter Sitaras, who lives in the dorms.  “And home is a stress-free environment, pretty much.”

Carolyn  Zaccagni is a learning skills specialist with St. Joe’s Learning Resource Center, and oversees the program.

“The dogs are here to help students de-stress and to relax,” she tells KYW Newsradio.  “There is research, there are studies that  have been done that talk about the positive effects of sitting with dogs, petting them, relaxing.   It helps to lower blood pressure.  And if students are more relaxed, then they can think better and perform better on their exams.”

The dogs have been brought in for final exams for the past two years.  Testing starts Wednesday.