Our School Dog
This is Bella, she is our school's wellbeing dog.
Bella is a Cockapoo who loves being our school dog. She is an absolute delight; full of enthusiasm and happiness and eager to explore life. I think we’ll all be agreed that she is pretty cute too!
There are many benefits of having a school dog. There is significant potential for dogs to help young people in a range of educational environments, including in primary schools, bringing benefits to their academic, emotional and social development. Children only spend time with Bella if they want to and feel comfortable to do so and we have a strict risk assessment in place to support anyone with dog allergies.
Bella's happy nature supports the children (and staff) in many ways.
Evidence suggests a school dog can potentially improve self-esteem, acceptance from others and lift mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety. Students can identify with animals and have empathy with the dog, and so they may better understand how classmates may feel.
Companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game playing. Dogs have also been used successfully in reading programmes, as students develop literacy skills and build confidence through both the calming effect the dog’s presence has on children, as well as the fact that a dog will listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. Dogs give unconditional acceptance, which is especially crucial to struggling and reluctant readers. Research also suggests that students who read to dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and write, and an increase in intra and interpersonal skills amongst the students they mix with.
A dog can provide a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others. Working with dogs can help students to learn about negative and positive reinforcement, about body language and social cues and boundaries. Students could potentially have the opportunity to learn how to care for the dog, including walking and grooming. Research suggests that involving students in the daily care of classroom dogs is a positive experience, promoting their own daily care.
Physical and Sensory Support
Interaction with a dog potentially helps reduce blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move and walk, and stimulates the senses.