Why have a school dog?
The value of pet therapy is widely accepted as a powerful aid to communication and motivation. Research has shown that companion dogs can improve the well-being of children reducing their anxiety levels by making the school environment happier and a more enjoyable place to be. A school dog is also a benefit for staff morale and staff well-being.
Dogs are a great comfort to children who are upset in any way and in need of calm, consolation, comfort, breathing space or a distraction before being able to tell an adult what has upset them. Children can benefit educationally and emotionally; a dog can motivate and encourage their participation, increase their understanding of responsibility, develop empathy and nurturing skills and improve their behaviour and self-esteem.
Children cannot fail in any way in their relationship with a dog; they do not judge or condemn and offer unconditional affection.
Children will learn the principles of good pet ownership and be taught how to handle dogs safely and responsibly; they will take great enjoyment from interaction with the dog.
The rationale to make the decision to have a school dog was as follows:
- For the school to have a dog that is able to live as naturally as conditions allow.
- For the dog to be properly cared for.
- To have a dog that the children could learn how to care for, interact safely around and also benefit their social and emotional development.