Buzz is a very popular member of our team. He was born on 20th March 2017 and is a Yorkiepoo (yorkshire terrier cross poodle) who has undergone training to become a fully qualified pet therapy class dog. He is currently based in our Year 4 classroom.
Below we have set out the benefits of a class dog, and tried to address any concerns.
What are the benefits of having a class 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
· Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others
· 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.
· Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk 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.
· Reading – reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dog’s presence has on children as well as the fact that a dog will listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence to read aloud.
Some concerns you might have:
My child is allergic to dogs
It is understandable that some of you may be concerned about possible allergic reactions to a school dog. However, Buzz, being a Yorkiepoo, has little or no shedding and will be subjected to the most thorough cleanliness and grooming regime. He will also only be allowed in situations with pupils under adult supervision and also only pupils who are comfortable to do so.
Is Buzz properly cared for?
Buzz is extremely well looked after. He lives with Miss Garoghan and comes to school everyday but stays safely supervised at all times. He listens to pupils read in a controlled setting and is always accompanied by an adult. He has undergone thorough training so will be extremely well-behaved. Buzz has been assessed by a ‘Pets As Therapy Assessor’ before working with any children. Whilst Buzz is in class he has access to a dog bed below a desk where he relaxes during the day. Buzz visits the vet regularly for all his injections as well as regular check-ups. If Buzz is unwell for any reason he will stay at home with someone to look after him.
My child is scared of dogs
Some children may have had upsetting experiences and thus have a fear of dogs (or another animal). Buzz will only be in contact with children who are comfortable to be with him and always fully supervised by a staff member. However, Buzz’s training has helped him to be calm and gentle around children. Experience and research have shown that, with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to overcome their fear of animals and grow in respect and appreciation for them.
The school has a ‘no dogs’ policy
Our school does have a ‘no dogs’ policy (this means dogs are not allowed on the school playground when you pick and drop off your child/ren), however because Buzz is a trained ‘Pet As Therapy’ dog, specific rules will apply (in the same manner as helping/hearing dogs or guide dogs). He will be on a lead at all times when moving around the school property. Buzz will also be fully insured to carry out his role thus allowing him to be on the school site.