Our School Dog
You may be aware that there is a growing movement in many schools to reintroduce the concept of school pets as a way of teaching all children responsibility and providing a source of pleasure and learning. There are a number of school dogs already in post locally and around the country and we firmly believe that having a school dog can only enhance and extend the children’s opportunities for learning – both academically and socially.
What are the benefits of a school dog?
Numerous research studies have shown the benefits of therapy dogs in schools. Therapy dogs have been working in schools for the past 5 years across the UK. However, they have been commonplace in schools in the USA and Australia for many years. Evidence indicates that benefits include:
▪ Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing. Encouraging expression, participation and shared attention.▪ Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others. Encouraging respect and thereby improving pupils’ relationships with each other, parents and teachers. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education47655600
▪ Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety. Improved behaviour, attendance and concentration, reduced stress and improved self-esteem
▪ Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, gives motivation to move and stimulates the senses
▪ Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
▪ Helping children build confidence in reading – http://www.theguardian.com/education/2011/feb/28/dogs-listen-to-children-reading
Obviously, bringing any animal into school is not something to be approached lightly, both for the animal’s sake and for the sake of the children and adults in the school.The practicalities of having a school dog have been fully considered, including everything from risk assessments and insurance to dealing with training, doggy toileting and children’s allergies.