Bernard the Buddy Dog
Why Have a School Dog?
With Sir Antony Seldon (Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University, educationalist and political author referencing the benefits of school dogs and Damian Hinds recognising their role in helping children’s mental health and wellbeing we thought we’d bring you our School Dog Blog.
It has become increasingly common for schools to have a school dog in recent years, but ‘Why?’ I hear you ask!
There are a lot of articles about the benefits of having a dog in school, from increasing children’s understanding of responsibility to supporting children with managing their feelings and behaviour. Alongside the impact of a school dog on pupils, research also suggests that interactions with a dog can benefit staff. Research shows that interacting with a dog can moderate stress by reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and other observable supportive signs of anxiety (Katcher, Friedmann, Beck, & Lynch, 1983). However, as the Dog Trust saying goes, “A dog is for life not just for Christmas”.
So, before we opened our school gates (and hearts) to a school dog there were many considerations to be made:
The Breed: It is important to consider the breed of dog most suitable to our school to ensure that they are a good fit and that we can accommodate all of its needs. Temperament and exercise requirements are a big factor here.
Bernard is a Norfolk terrier, whose mum is already a therapy dog. He comes from ‘Stable Lives’. Stable Lives is a Community Interest Company based at Parbold Equestrian Centre. Volunteers at Stable Lives recognise the devastating effect that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Mental Health Trauma can have on an individual and their family. They use therapy dogs and horses to bring real comfort to adults and children suffering from a wide range of physical and psychological challenges.