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To ask your opinion on support dogs in schools

(134 Posts)
OddSocksDontCare Fri 22-Mar-19 21:00:57

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47655600

I saw this article earlier and was curious as to what others think about this?

I've suffered mental health issues the past year or so and got my dog 7 months ago now. He has completely saved my life and I couldn't get more joy from him than I do.

I am considering trying to get him involved in some sort of therapy work i.e. nursing home visits / hospitals / schools etc... and have been going to training classes with him to try and lead up to this. I wouldn't have believed the thought of me having a hobby and joining a class like this a year ago!

I think the idea of pets as therapy for anxiety and stress can be a brilliant one with the right regulations in place to cater for those it would be unsuitable for (allergies, fear of dogs etc).

redcaryellowcar Fri 22-Mar-19 21:03:19

I think it's an excellent idea, but equally shouldn't be restricted to those with diagnoses, I think lots of children benefit from having an animal around and I would love to trim any future dog I have to be an assistance dog.

OddSocksDontCare Fri 22-Mar-19 21:03:38

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47655600

Chocolateisfab Fri 22-Mar-19 21:04:25

We have ddogs which ds is fine with. Unfortunately he has asthma and unknown ddogs affect him.
It's a no from me.

OddSocksDontCare Fri 22-Mar-19 21:05:11

but equally shouldn't be restricted to those with diagnoses

Oh absolutely! I was reading before about dogs in schools helping with exam stress etc... I think it could really work.

Piewife Fri 22-Mar-19 21:10:46

I'd have hated there being a dog at school as have a bit of a dog phobia. There are plenty of children around who are a bit wary of dogs too. Due to that along with possible allergies, I don't think it's a great idea.

Maybe a smaller pet kept on a cage or tank, so totally optional whether to interact with it.

OddSocksDontCare Fri 22-Mar-19 21:11:36

Unfortunately he has asthma and unknown ddogs affect him

See this is the sort of thing that I would worry about as the down side to this idea and a reason I'd say this could only work if there were a certain area in school designated for this purpose.

At my school we used to have a room (more like a hut in the playing field) where you could go if you needed some down time. It was darkened and had mood music etc .. designed to lower stress levels away from the actual school building.

anniehm Fri 22-Mar-19 21:22:01

There's one at my DD's university in the support department, is rather popular as you might guess!

NutButterNutter Fri 22-Mar-19 21:24:11

There's one at DDs' school. It doesn't roam around and they have to make appointments to hang it with her so any dog phobes aren't forced to see her around and about.
It really helps with difficult situations and kids with trust issues (that don't kind dogs!) and she's available for anyone nervous around dogs to expose themselves (so to speak) in a controlled environment.
I've literally never seen her, though, which shows how not around she is.

Leeds2 Fri 22-Mar-19 21:26:40

At my DD's university (not in UK), they have dogs available for petting/hugging sessions in the couple of weeks leading up to exams. Apparently, these are very popular.

ThePlatypusAlwaysTriumphs Fri 22-Mar-19 21:30:06

I don't really understand how people manage to live without dogs, but I accept that lots of people feel differently from me!

Dogs are completely banned from my dc school. Much as I think people really benefit from dogs, I have to accept that others feel differently

JellySlice Fri 22-Mar-19 21:32:15

One of my dc strongly dislikes dogs, but is fine about there being therapy dogs in the school, as the dogs and their introduction to the school have been very well managed. The students have been reassured that nobody has to approach the dogs, and they will not be brought to anybody without notice and consent. They are also always on a short leash when moving around the school, and do not move around the school during The Crush, the 5min transition between lesson periods.

Another of my dc has benefitted from interacting with the dogs, though they have no diagnosis of any SN.

The school got the dogs because they saw the effect of the staff pets. We have had chickens (belonging to the caretaker), white rats, bearded dragons and more, living in classrooms and playgrounds. Students who struggled to engage were drawn in by the animals, anxious students were calmed by interacting with them, unconfident students rewarded by being trusted with them.

All my dc have benefitted from the staff pets, too.

Our first therapy dog was a reading dog - or, rather, a listening dog for secondary school students struggling with literacy and ashamed of themselves.

Bizzysocks Fri 22-Mar-19 21:33:56

Im glad you have found the dog such a help. I think it would be a lovely thing to do.

My DS's head teacher brings his dog to school on Fridays, and different children get to visit her each week. DS has SEN and loves it. Its seen as a treat for good behaviour.

OddSocksDontCare Fri 22-Mar-19 21:38:30

See JellySlice I think this could really work for a lot of reasons so long as it's well managed like you say.

I only mention mental health in my OP as this is my own experience of how my dog has helped me but definitely there are a lot of every day scenarios where this could be really beneficial not just to those with a diagnosis.

yolofish Fri 22-Mar-19 21:42:59

I think it's generally a brilliant idea, with the caveats as mentioned above. The school my DDs went to has a working farm plus small animals/reptiles, does courses in animal management etc, and the farm was a great place for people to just hang out, get involved etc.

Guide Dogs for the Blind does a lot of puppy socialising with uni students - combining socialisation for the new recruits with a de-stress opportunity for students around exam time.

Chocolateisfab Fri 22-Mar-19 21:46:07

I once took our 2 snakes to show nursery /reception classes.
By the end of the session all but 1dc had actually held one...
Very impressed!
Animal handling / socialising with should be second nature to dc. Imo.

researchandbiscuitfan Fri 22-Mar-19 21:50:10

Our primary school has a school dog (one of the teachers owns him). He’s just lovely (and I’m not a dog person really). Letters went home so the school knows which children can spend time with him. He has his own timetable and it’s all very well organised. He was a particular comfort for my children in the first awful weeks after DH died.

yolofish Fri 22-Mar-19 21:50:44

I was thinking about training our Lab as a Pets As Therapy dog, but was told that you can do all the training but they dont help you find places to visit - you have to do that bit yourself. Does anyone know if that's true? Mine would be brilliant - very calm, loves nothing more than attention etc.

MidniteScribbler Fri 22-Mar-19 21:53:21

Ours is very much an animal school. Several staff (myself included) have dogs that have very well trained dogs and bring them in at least several times per week. I take my old girl or my boy, and they just chill out wherever I am, potter around the classroom sticking their nose in whenever they think they should, and get taken out for a game of fetch when someone needs a bit of time out. They can often be found curled up on a pillow in the reading corner having a nap on someone. My young pup comes once a week at the moment and is learning how to be a school dog.

All of us with dogs have a crate in our rooms and the children all get taught that it's absolutely hands off if the dogs are in their crates as that is their down time.

There are goodness knows how many fish tanks in classrooms, a handful of classroom guinea pigs and rabbits, a ferret, hermit crabs. There's a turtle in a big tank in the library.

We also have a farm with sheep, goats, chickens (who free range all over the school, it's not unusual to have a chook wander through your lesson), various birds, rabbits and guinea pigs. I think a turkey showed up last week due to the noise that I heard when I was on yard duty. The kids can hang out on the farm at lunchtimes, or go down there and work with the farm caretaker if they need some time out. Some of the animals get shown at the local show, and there's been quite a few births, which the kids really love.

I absolutely support animals in schools, they have been amazing for our kids.

Folf Fri 22-Mar-19 21:56:04

there's a therapy dog at my DC's primary school.

He's been there since he was an 8wk old puppy, the students are actively involved in his training, he operates as an emotional support dog, a reward incentive, a PAT dog. He helps with the reading schemes as children struggling to read come on leaps and bounds when reading stories to him.

He's an absolute star, the children love him and he's had an amazingly positive impact on all students involved with him, and especially those with SEN and other special needs.

No students are forced to have contact with him, he's got a very passive presence. He's not just a teachers pet bought into school, but was donated by a breeder who's dogs are all bred for being Therapy and support dogs to the disabled, he is there as a working dog and is treated as such.

MaryPopppins Fri 22-Mar-19 21:56:44

I'd love it if my DCs school got a dog. I think it's such a lovely idea.

Seeing how involved the children are in other animals at school I think it's all so beneficial.

But then I am a huge animal lover.

Stuckforthefourthtime Fri 22-Mar-19 21:57:31

My nephew has been put in hospital by visiting a home where they hadn't mentioned that there was a dog visiting, he has very severe asthma. Fine if the dog is kept in one area, but really hard if there are dogs in classrooms.

Still18atheart Fri 22-Mar-19 21:59:45

My dog is a cavapoo hypoallergenic breed PAT dog and is currently going through the process so that she can go into a local
Primary so that children can read to her to build their confidence.

gigglingHyena Fri 22-Mar-19 22:04:35

Another who's child has an allergy, school dog has been a nightmare, not least because of the fight to get the school to administer antihistamines if he needs them.
It's not just when the dog is in that we have problems, as it's often I the reading corner on the carpet and cushions with the children, so he can react to hair left days later.
Perhaps if the dog stayed in a couple of rooms and the children visited it would work out, I know some of the children really benefit.

coffeeandchoc Fri 22-Mar-19 22:05:54

My boys school has a dog (he is one of the teachers dogs) and he is a trained therapy dog. He is lovely and loves quiet classrooms and children who are reading!!

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