Our School Dog News
For a while now we have discussing the benefits of a new school dog. Miss Holt used to bring Magi (a trained therapy dog, below) to our school regularly until she left in Summer 2017 to go to work in Thailand at the dog rescue centre where she first met Magi. Magi helped lots of children with their reading, and with some social and emotional issues.
Over the summer of 2018, a cockerpoo pup is going to join Mrs Jacques’ family and will be busy learning lots of things so that he or she is ready to come into school in September. The puppy will have lots to learn and the children and staff will need to be really patient as he or she learns what is expected of him or her at school.
What are the benefits of a school dog?
- A calming effect on pupils, particularly those with behavioural or learning difficulties
- Encouraging expression and participation in more withdrawn children
- Fostering a sense of responsibility
- Improved behaviour, attendance and concentration, reduced stress and improved self- esteem
- Motivating pupils to think and to learn
- Enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of animals
- Encouraging respect and thereby improving pupils’ relationships with each other, parents and teachers
- Teaching children to nurture and respect life
- Helping work undertaken with the most vulnerable children, and educational improvements with lower achievers
- Helping children build confidence in reading
What is a cockapoo?
A cockapoo is bred from a Show Cocker Spaniel Mum and a Miniature Poodle Dad. They are described as –
An adorable small dog with the personality of a big clown, the Cockapoo is the first of the cross breeds (not a “pure” dog breed), dating back to the 1960s rather than to just a few years ago. Completely people-oriented, the Cockapoo is intelligent enough to train easily, hardly sheds any hair, loves being around children, and is so affectionate that you’ll never feel alone. He’s happy running around an agility course, showing off his tricks to company, being petted as a therapy dog, or just hanging out on your lap.
How will the school plan for this?
- A full risk assessment will be carried out, (as it was when we had Magi)
- All contact with children will be carefully planned and children will not be left unsupervised with the dog
- When not working, the dog will be based in one of the school offices, its’ ‘Time Out’ space
What about allergies?
- The dog will be a cockapoo (a mix of a cocker spaniel and a poodle). The poodle element means that he has low allergy and non-shedding qualities.
- All areas of the school are vacuumed and surfaces are wiped down daily.
- Any child working with the dog will wash their hands before returning to class.
- A full management plan will be introduced regarding allergies.
Do other schools have school dogs?
The closest school to us with a school dog is Camberwell Park. Mrs Jacques visited to see how the puppy is settling in and learned lots of good ideas, like displaying the dog’s timetable each week, so everyone knows what he or she is up to!
Around the country there are many schools who have their own school dog including Hope Primary in Liverpool, who have recently set up their own ‘dog blog’, which contains a very good video explaining the benefits: http://dexter-hopeprimary.tumblr.com