We mainly choose Labradors and golden retrievers and Labrador x golden retriever crosses to become school dogs because they have a loving and loyal nature. This gives them the right temperament to support pupils in schools. You can follow these links to find out more about how school dogs work and the benefits of school dogs.
Life as a School Dog
Each Dogs for Good puppy will spend the first year of his life with one of our volunteer puppy socialisers. He starts his formal training at around the age of 14 months at our National Training Centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire. This typically lasts for around six months.
We socialise and train our school dogs to the same high standards as our assistance dogs, using positive reward techniques. We select dogs for the school dog programme who are:
- Socially confident with children and adults, including groups.
- Confident in a range of different environments.
- Not sensitive to and do not react to sudden noise or movement.
- Calm and relaxed when required.
We take time to understand each of our partner schools, the working environment and the needs of the students. This enables us to match a dog that will be happy and can thrive in the school’s environment.
The final stage of the training takes place with the School Dog Handler. The handler will introduce the dog into the school environment on a gradual basis. The handler provides ongoing training to meet the needs of the school and individual students.
Health and wellbeing of our dogs
At the heart of the way we operate is the health and wellbeing of our dogs. We take special care when we select our partner schools and we design and schedule activities to ensure the dog’s needs are met and never compromised.
While in school the school dog works to a clear timetable, ensuring a programme of work which incorporates sufficient ‘down time’ for the dog. The dog has a dedicated quiet space in the school, away from students, for rest and relaxation.
The dog is accompanied at all times by the handler who is responsible for all interactions with students and the dog’s wellbeing while in school. Outside the school environment, the dog lives with the handler or an approved member of school staff. They will take responsibility for the dog’s welfare and ensure that the school dog has a happy and fulfilled home life.
If your school is interested in our Community Dog for Schools programme, click here to download our information sheet.