Dash, our school dog, will live with Miss Filson and her family and will come in to school every day. There will be a long period of integration into the school and we will be working closely with the Canine Assisted Wellbeing Group.
The programme they run will teach the children and staff how to act near the dog and the dog will be receiving extensive training.
My name is Dash, and I am a 10-week-old Miniature Dachshund. I am settling into my new home with Miss Filson and I’m also getting used to playing and resting in her office during the school day. I am very young, so I take lots of naps in my crate throughout the day and am really enjoying exploring all the lovely toys that Miss Filson has bought for me. Mrs. Edwards told me that I will begin my special training soon to learn how to be the best Wellbeing Assistance Dog that I can be. This will be very exciting and will mean that I can begin to spend time with some children under supervision. Only children whose parents/carers have given permission will be able to work closely with me so please give your permission by using the link that was shared with you previously. No one will be forced to play or work with me so don’t worry if you’d rather not right now. I’m full of beans and really can’t wait to get started on my new duties! I’m too small to go outside right now but as soon as I can, I’ll be ready and waiting on the gate to meet you!
See you soon
Wellbeing Dog FAQ’s
There are many benefits of having a school dog, as detailed below –
- A calming effect on pupils;
- Improved behaviour and concentration, reduced stress and improved self-esteem;
- Encouraging expression, participation and confidence for all children;
- Fostering a sense of responsibility;
- Motivating pupils to think and to learn;
- Developing an 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;
- Helping children build confidence in reading;
- Improving attendance;
- Helping overcome a fear of dogs;
- Increasing staff morale and wellbeing;
- Developing the understanding of unconditional love;
- Supporting with the development of cooperative play;
- Supporting children to develop empathy;
- Further promote our Well Being agenda for pupils.
How has the school planned for this?
- Rigorous research has been carried out to ensure that we have selected a suitable breed of dog for our school, pupils and staff;
- Prior to purchasing the puppy Miss Filson visited the home of the breeder to ensure that the puppy’s temperament, and that of its parents, is suitable for interaction with children;
- A full risk assessment and policy has been written and will be available on the website;
- When the dog begins working with individual children, consent will be sought for each child to have contact;
- All contact will be carefully planned and children will not be left unsupervised with the dog;
- When not working, the dog will be based in one of the school offices.
Does this mean we can bring our dogs onto the school grounds?
No it doesn’t. Our dog will be the only one who has permission to be on the school grounds at any time. If you do bring your dog with you when dropping of your child(ren), please ensure they remain outside the school gates; puppies in arms will not be allowed into the school grounds.
Who will legally own the dog and who pays for its costs?
The legal owner of the dog will be Miss Filson; she will bear the costs associated with owning the dog. The school budget will support insurance, staff and school dog training costs where appropriate.
Did the dog come from a reputable breeder?
Absolutely. We completed extensive research in order to locate a suitable, experienced and very knowledgeable breeder. The dog has been Kennel Club registered which secures that he is a true Miniature Dachshund. He has been specifically chosen for temperament and have been ‘vet checked’ for excellent health.
Will the dog be a distraction?
The dog will be based in Miss Filson’s office. This office is towards the back of the school where there is minimal foot traffic. This has been decided to ensure that the dog only comes into contact with children who are happy to have contact and have parental permission for this, under strict supervision. He will only ever be moved around the school when attached to his harness and will never be able to run free around the grounds.
Will suitable risk assessments be undertaken?
Yes. All risk assessments have been created and will be thoroughly audited by the Canine Assistance Wellbeing Group. Following this, it will be available on the school website and will be updated regularly to reflect our specific circumstances. The Canine Assistance Wellbeing Group will visit regularly and will conduct a full health and safety audit in order to ensure any risks posed to the children and the dog are minimised. We have carefully considered having a dog in school and sought advice from many sources, including other schools who successfully have a school dog.
The dog will be moved around the school with the use of a suitable lead/ harness.
Who will be responsible for training?
Miss Filson will be the legal owner of the dog and as a result will be responsible for his/her training. We will be working closely with the Canine Assistance Wellbeing Group who will visit the school to tailor make a programme that meets our needs as a school.
More information about this can be found here:
How will the dog be toileted to ensure good hygiene for all?
A section of the field will be marked out and used for toileting. It will be cordoned off with mesh/plastic fencing so that staff and pupils do not access this area during free time. Only designated handlers will clear up after the dog appropriately leaving no trace on the ground, cleaning the area with disinfectant if needed.
How will the dog’s welfare be considered?
We will work very carefully to ensure the dog’s welfare is always considered and is of paramount importance.
The dog will be carefully trained over a period of time. The training will also include a timetable that meets the needs of the dog.
The dog will be walked regularly and given free time outside.
The dog will have access to water at all times, with a number of water stations around the school.
The dog will have a bed in Miss Filson’s office where it will feel comfortable and safe.
Enrichment items and chew articles will be provided throughout the day and when it is hot, a fan will be used to keep the dog cool.
The dog will have planned and supervised contact with pupils and visitors gradually, in line with our training programme and relevant risk assessments.
How will this be managed where children have allergies?
Students will not need to touch the dog, which will relieve the possibility of allergic reactions. 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.
The dog will be given high-quality food, will have regular health checks and will be regularly groomed to reduce any possibility of allergens.
Our dog is a Miniature Dachshund and the breed has low allergy and non-shedding qualities.
Hands will always be washes prior to and following any direct contact with the dog or his toys.
My child is frightened of dogs; how will you manage this?
Access to the dog will be carefully managed and supervised. Close contact/ direct work with the dog will only be allowed once the dog is enrolled on the Affiliate School Dog programme with the Canine Assistance Wellbeing Group.
Children do not need to have close contact with the dog unless they want to work with him/her and permission for this has been given by parents/ carers.
In time we hope to be able to work closely with parents of pupils who are fearful of dogs to alleviate their fears.
This is the beginning of a very exciting opportunity for us here at Bourne, one which we hope you will be on fully on board with. Any parents who may have any unanswered concerns regarding this process are invited to write to me directly. We will keep you fully informed of each step in our journey.