School Dogs - Middi & Joey
Middi is still a puppy and being trained to be a school dog. He is a cocker spaniel and the half brother of Joey - they share the same biological mum.
Joey is our older school dog, who visits us one day a week. On the days that he is not with us, he is sharing his love with children in another school in Croydon. Joey is a fully trained cockapoo and has all the certificates and risk assessments in place to be in school.
Why did we get 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. 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 have a school dog was as follows: to have a dog that the children could learn how to care for, interact safely around and also benefit their social and emotional development.
Benefits of having school dogs
It is accepted that interacting with animals is not appropriate for all children but that for some it has the potential to provide many positive benefits.
Some of the benefits of having a school dog include:
- A calming effect on pupils, particularly those with behavioural or learning difficulties
- Encouraging expression and participation in quieter children
- Teaching children to nurture and respect life
- Motivating children to think and to learn, as most children have a high level of natural interest in, enthusiasm for and enjoyment of animals
- Fostering a sense of responsibility
When Joey and/or Middi are in school, their main residence will be the office area, which is secure and separate from the classrooms, and will only work closely with the children who have expressed a wish to spend time with him. Whilst moving around the school, the dogs will be kept on a lead. We understand that it is not possible for all families to have a family dog, therefore we hope that this is an opportunity for children to ‘share’ in a dog and gain from a relationship and contact on a regular basis.