Why have a school dog?
It was suggested by our school ambassadors several years ago now. [Click here for the news clip at the time]
Having discussed this at length I’m pleased to tell you that, with full support from children, ambassadors, staff and Governors, Bramble joined our school in September 2015.
We undertook a significant amount of research and are aware of many benefits to having a school dog such as:
- having a calming effect on pupils, particularly those with behavioural or learning difficulties;
- improved behaviour and concentration, reduced stress and improved self-esteem;
- encouraging expression and participation in more withdrawn children
- fostering a sense of responsibility
- motivating pupils to think and to learn, as children have a high level of natural interest in, enthusiasm for and enjoyment of animals;
- encouraging respect and thereby improving pupils’ relationships with each other, parents and teachers;
- teaching children to nurture and respect life;
- helping work undertaken with the most vulnerable children, and educational improvements with low achievers.
- helping children build confidence in reading. Please see separate article link below.
We chose a labrador as the most appropriate breed of dog for the school. The breed has been carefully selected because of its ideal temperament and because it is used widely in the field of therapy and support (e.g. guide dogs). Labradors are also used successfully in other schools. Labradors are by nature gentle and friendly. They are also superb working dogs. We are sure the children will gain a great deal of enjoyment from having their school dog and that she becomes an established part of life at our school.
We also understand that it is not possible for all families to have a family dog and therefore we hope that this is an opportunity for children to have a ‘share’ in a dog and gain much from a relationship and contact with Bramble on a regular basis.
Bramble is available to work with children, including those who have additional and emotional needs, suffer bereavement or who are upset in any way and in need of calm, comfort and space before being able to tell an adult what has upset them.
Bramble is also available to work with children and adults who have had bad experiences with dogs or other animals. Over a period of time children who react fearfully to dogs will be supported in approaching, handling and gaining confidence in managing their fear. Several parents have already approached school for this support.
While Brambles main place of residence will be the headteachers room, which is secure and separate from the classrooms, children will able to interact with her, under supervision, at certain times of the week. Bramble will not be given access to other visitors without supervision and mutual consent.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q Who is the legal owner of the dog and who pays for its costs?
The legal owner of the dog is the nominated member of staff who has volunteered to care for the dog out of school hours.
Q Is the dog from a reputable breeder?
Yes. We researched breeders and chose a reputable breeder who already bred dogs for therapy work. The dog is Kennel Club registered and the breeder is a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.
Q Will the dog be a distraction?
The dog is kept in the Headteachers office. This area is separate from the classrooms. We will be careful to ensure that time spent with the school dog is shared among the children fairly.
Q Has a risk assessment been undertaken?
Yes, we have carefully considered having a dog in school and sought advice from many sources, including other schools that have a school dog.
See https://www.northbaddesley-inf.co.uk/about-our-school/ as a school example.
Q Who is responsible for training?
The nominated member of staff will be the legal owner of the dog and as a result, will be responsible for its training.
Q How will the dog be toileted to ensure hygiene for all?
In the interest of health and hygiene our school dog is toileted in an area of the school site where children have no access. Thus there will be no chance of the children coming into contact with faeces.
Q How will the dog’s welfare be considered?
The dog will be walked and allowed out several times each day.
The dog will have access to food and water.
Q How will this be managed where children have allergies?
We already manage a number of allergies at school and this will be no different for children and adults that are allergic to dogs. Individual needs will always be met and we are happy to work with parents to put additional control measures in place for individual allergies.
Q My child is frightened of dogs; how will you manage this?
Access to Bramble is carefully managed and supervised and children do not need to have close contact if they prefer not to. We have already worked closely with several parents of children who are fearful of dogs to alleviate their fear and to teach them how to manage this.