A school dog in your community can help student and staff mental health
We’ve worked with schools across Australia to help introduce a wellbeing dog into the community. The benefits have been remarkable, not just with mental health but with improved student learning outcomes. We love working with educators who are passionate about supporting young people to become valuable and independent people. A school dog can become entrenched in the pedagogy and bring powerful impacts to students, staff, and families.
What are the benefits of having a school dog?
Evidence shows that just by being near a dog when stressed can reduce anxiety. In one of our surveys, 92% of students said they felt more relaxed during teaching and learning time when there was a dog in the classroom. We all know when children are more relaxed and less stressed, they’re going to learn more.
Having a school dog can also help with:
Students experience a greater willingness to be active in the school environment when there is a school dog. Schools we have helped said their attendance rates improved as children looked forward to seeing the dog and interacting with them.
A dog in school gives students have a shared interest with other members of the school community. This helps them interact and build connections that they may have struggled to do otherwise. Wellbeing dogs can even be used with literacy programs as children may be less self-conscious reading to dogs than teachers or their peers.
A school dog can give students a sense of responsibility. They learn how to take care of the dog and how to delegate care which can help grow their leadership skills.
Students can see the impact of their actions on their wellbeing dog. This helps them understand how their behaviour impacts people around them. As a result, children learn to be more empathetic and understanding.
Students dealing with trauma
We can build programs for schools in areas where natural disasters such as fire have brought devastation to the lives of all people. We focus on bringing connectedness and finding ways to manage trauma and anxiety in conjunction with existing strategies and community links.
How does the wellbeing dog at school program work?
There is no one size fits all – we offer a range of packages that help work out the best way of incorporating a wellbeing dog into your school community. Initially, we need a volunteer from the school community to home the dog and be the primary carer. Once that has been decided, we help you:
- Find a suitable dog that will suit your school community.
- Write policies, risk assessments and building protocol documents to meet international standards.
- Prepare your school community so that consistent expectations are set and met by everyone.
- Set up your school and home space so that your wellbeing dog feels like it belongs.
- Train individuals in building authentic connections between members of the community and the wellbeing dog.
- Set healthy and context-appropriate behavioural routines for your wellbeing dog and community.
- Teach social and emotional management strategies with the wellbeing dog while keeping pedagogy in mind.
- Build confidence with the wellbeing dog and become creative by working as a team to meet your school community’s needs.