Dogs for Good has a wealth of experience of supporting children through our Assistance Dog and Family Dog services. We also work with children in our Community Dog service, principally through referrals from our Community Dog partners – out in the community and through the placement of community dogs in schools.
We launched our Community Dogs for Schools programme in 2014. The main aim was to bring the benefits of Animal Assisted Intervention to students in Special Educational Needs Schools. Since then we have worked in three schools to explore the benefits that children gain from having trained dogs with professional handlers in school.
How community dogs work in schools
The trained school dog and specialist handler become part of the fabric of daily school life. They work in partnership with the educational staff and trained therapists in the school to benefit the pupils. Together, they help progress the educational, social, emotional and physical development of individual students and groups.
The school dog and handler participate in classroom activities, and work with individual students and groups. Sometimes schools ask the pair to get involved with structured and goal oriented sessions. These sessions support the therapists in school in a range of therapeutic settings, such as physiotherapy.
You can follow the link to find out more about how Community Dogs for Schools works. In addition to the therapeutic work, schools can ask the dog and handler to provide emotional support and assist in developing new skills among students.
Our schools programme has made a huge difference to students. You can follow the link to discover some of the significant benefits school dogs bring to students. We have very much enjoyed seeing them make a positive contribution to the working environment of the schools we have worked with.
You can watch community dogs in schools in action on Vimeo and read more about our partnership with Stocklake Park School in Aylesbury.
We also work with children on referral through our Community Dog partners, eg local authorities, healthcare providers and specialist charities. You can read more about our work in this field here.
Interested in a School Dog?
Covid-19 has brought challenges for our school programme and we are not currently able to work in schools. We are also taking the opportunity to review our work in this area and see how we might develop it further over time. During this period we are not progressing any further placements with new school partners.
In the meantime, we have produced a factsheet for schools considering introducing a dog into their school environment. This looks at the key factors to consider and also includes details of where you can get further help and advice.
There are also standards of practice issued by the Kennel Club to guide people and organisations who wish to work with a dog in a school, and this includes some helpful guidance to schools. You can find the Bark and Read standards here.