Doug – Our School Dog

Doug is a six month old Tibetan Terrier who is in training to become a school dog and is set to become an integral part of our school community.
Doug has already visited the school for short periods, so you might have already heard about him!

Why a school dog?
When deciding on a suitable dog to have in school, we have chosen to have a Tibetan Terrier for the following reasons:
• The breed is known to be child-friendly, lively, gentle mannered and affectionate, yet sensitive.
• Tibetan Terriers are a breed that do not shed their fur and are hypoallergenic.
• The breed is known to be intelligent and respond excellently to training. We have also undertaken a thorough risk assessment, which details the hygiene practices that will be in place – such as cleaning of hands and the environment before and after meeting Doug.
Following a phased settling and climatization period, Doug will settle in Mr Elliott’s office and be part of the office staff. He will be housed in the school office three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays) under the supervision of Mr Elliott and the office team.

My child is allergic to dogs
It is understandable that some of you may be concerned about possible allergic reactions to a school dog. However, Doug was chosen due to his hypoallergenic coat. Doug will be subjected to the most thorough cleanliness and grooming regime. He will also only be allowed in situations with pupils who voluntarily wish to work with him. Your permission will of course be sought in advance of Doug having access to, and working with, your child in school.

Will Doug be properly cared for?
Doug will be extremely well looked after. He lives with Mr Elliott and his family and will come to school most Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays days but will stay safely in the offices until satisfactory training has been completed. He will then, in time, listen to pupils read in a controlled setting and will always be accompanied by a trained adult. Whilst Doug is in school, he will have access to a bed and a quiet space in Mr Elliott’s office, where he can relax during the day. This is where he will spend most of his time initially. Doug will visit the vet regularly for all his injections as well as regular check-ups. If Doug is unwell for any reason, he will stay at home (after recording his absence in ParentMail of course!).

My child fears dogs
Some children may have had upsetting experiences and thus have a fear of dogs (or another animal). Doug will only be in contact with children whose parents have given their permission. However, as Doug continues his training he will help him to be calm and gentle around children; he is already showing his very loving and gentle nature. Experience and research have shown that, with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to overcome their fear of animals and grow in respect and appreciation for them.

The school has a ‘no dogs’ policy
Our school does have a ‘no dogs’ policy and dogs are not allowed anywhere on the school site. However, there is a risk assessment in place and a policy specifically for Doug. His medical records and insurance documents have been provided for the school. Doug has undergone basic puppy training and will be on a lead at all times when moving around the school property. He will always be accompanied by an adult who knows him well and children’s time with him will be carefully monitored and supervised.

What are the benefits of a school dog?
Numerous research studies have shown the benefits of therapy dogs in schools. Therapy dogs have been working in schools for the past 5 years across the UK. However, they have been commonplace in schools in the USA and Australia for many years.
Evidence indicates that benefits include:
• Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing. Encouraging expression, participation and shared attention.
• Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others. Encouraging respect and thereby improving pupils’ relationships with each other, parents and teachers https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47655600
• Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety. Improved behaviour, attendance and concentration, reduced stress and improved self-esteem
• Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, gives motivation to move and stimulates the senses
• Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
• Helping children build confidence in reading – http://www.theguardian.com/education/2011/feb/28/dogs-listen-to-children-reading

 School Doug Risk Assessment