Buddy our School Dog
Over the summer of 2018, Buddy, the cockerpoo puppy came to join Mrs Jacques’ family and has been busy learning lots of things so that he is ready to come into school in September. Buddy will have lots to learn and the children and staff will need to be really patient as he learns what is expected of him at school.
What are the benefits of a school dog?
- A calming effect on pupils, particularly those with behavioural or learning difficulties
- Encouraging expression and participation in more withdrawn children
- Fostering a sense of responsibility
- Improved behaviour, attendance and concentration, reduced stress and improved self- esteem
- Motivating pupils to think and to learn
- 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, and educational improvements with lower achievers
- Helping children build confidence in reading
What is a cockapoo?
A cockapoo is bred from a Show Cocker Spaniel Mum and a Miniature Poodle Dad. They are described as -
An adorable small dog with the personality of a big clown, the Cockapoo is the first of the cross breeds (not a “pure” dog breed), dating back to the 1960s rather than to just a few years ago. Completely people-oriented, the Cockapoo is intelligent enough to train easily, hardly sheds any hair, loves being around children, and is so affectionate that you’ll never feel alone. He’s happy running around an agility course, showing off his tricks to company, being petted as a therapy dog, or just hanging out on your lap.
How will the school plan for this?
- A full risk assessment has been carried out and specific insurance has been obtained for a dog on the school premises
- All contact with children will be carefully planned and children will not be left unsupervised with Buddy
- When not 'working', Buddy will be based in one of the school offices - his ‘Time Out’ space
What about allergies?
- The dog will be a cockapoo (a mix of a cocker spaniel and a poodle). The poodle element means that he has low allergy and non-shedding qualities.
- All areas of the school are vacuumed and surfaces are wiped down daily.
- Any child working with the dog will wash their hands or use anti-bac gel.
- A full management plan will be introduced regarding problems arising from any allergies.
Do other schools have school dogs?
The closest school to us with a school dog is Camberwell Park. Mrs Jacques visited to see how their puppy is settling in and learned lots of good ideas, like displaying the dog’s timetable each week, so everyone knows what he or she is up to!
Around the country there are many schools who have their own school dog including Hope Primary in Liverpool, who have recently set up their own ‘dog blog’, which contains a very good video explaining the benefits: http://dexter-hopeprimary.tumblr.com
How will we know what he's doing?
Our own blog will be updated regularly to show you how Buddy is settling into school and the kind of activities he has carried out. So far, during the Autumn term, he is regularly out on the playground at break and lunch time, being walked by volunteers. He also regularly does the Daily Mile and has been in Reception helping with their Guided Reading lesson!
What are we aiming for?
Eventually, we would like Buddy to be so well trained that he can pass the asessments to become a Therapy Dog. This means he would have been assessed to be calm and helpful enough to help children with elements of school such as reading and play. This can't happen until he is at least 1 year old.
How can the children get involved with his training?
To children in Years 4, 5 and 6,
Would you like to be part of a small team (10 children in Years 4, 5 or 6) who are taught some key skills in helping Buddy become a brilliant school dog?
Cath Phillips (OnTrack Training School in Rochdale) is a professional dog trainer who trains police dogs and will be coming to Bowker Vale for a few sessions over the next few months to help us make sure Buddy learns some important skills and tricks as he learns how to be a good school dog.
If you would like to be part of Buddy’s Training Squad, please apply in writing to Mrs Jacques and we will consider your request.
Your grown ups also need to sign your request to show that they agree to you being part of the training squad.
The first squad has already been chosen, but there will be chance to apply again in the Spring term and the Summer term.