Our Family Dog service celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and gives advice and support to help families with an autistic child get the most out of their relationship with a pet dog. 

It’s well-known that dogs have been a tremendous support to individuals and families during lockdown.  We asked our Family Dog community for insights about how their dogs have helped during lockdown, and now that restrictions are easing, how they’re helping children prepare for returning to school.

“Having Scout has enabled Harry to talk to him about what’s worrying him about returning to school.  Harry says that Scout always listens and doesn’t make him feel stupid or weird.”

“Walking our dog has been a constant of the lockdown routine so she’ll be walking with the kids to school.  I am expecting that my son won’t want to go in and may use walking her as a reason not to so we may adapt our route to walk the long way round as we only live three minutes’ walk from the school.”

“Shadow helped Josh during lockdown by getting him out of the house for walks.  Today, she helped comfort him when he was distraught about so-called friends only ever playing online with him when there was no-one else available.  He was sobbing, saying all he wants is a good friend.  Shadow went straight to him and did a head rest and that made him smile and say ‘Shadow will always be my friend’.”

“My son is about to start secondary school and as part of transition, he was allowed to visit the school with our golden retriever. This meant his anxiety was reduced and got him through the door. It has been agreed that if he does well, he will be allowed to bring her in every half term.”

“Jasper has helped Harvey with his daily anxiety.  They have a bond and are similar in many way.  Harvey sits on the floor with Jasper curled up between his legs and Harvey strokes him.  This calms Harvey and makes him happy.  Jasper places his paw on Harvey if Harvey’s stressed and also offers head rests which help to reset Harvey.”

“During lockdown, Tobi’s anxiety meant he sometimes struggled to go out.  However, if he knew Rosalee needed a walk, he would do it for her.  Going out reduced his anxiety levels and also burned off some energy so it was win-win.  Rosalee would also be looking for Tobi’s attention when we were at home, so he would cuddle, play or groom her which would keep his anxiety levels low and also keep him busy.  This has been great for their bond and means she actively seeks him out, which he loves.  When Tobi is upset or anxious, he seeks Rosalee out to stroke her which he finds calming and she really enjoys.  When called, she runs towards him for affection which they both enjoy.”

For more information about our Family Dog service, click here.

Last year we received over 5,000 enquiries about our services and we currently are unable to help many families feel less isolated. With your support we will be able to help many more.

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