Buddy our School Dog
Since the summer of 2018, Buddy, the cockerpoo puppy came to join Mrs Jacques’ family and has since been coming into school every day to help children with their learning and behaviour.
We have a dog trainer, Shelley, who comes into school each fortnight to train Buddy and to work with different children from different classes in how to handle dogs and be safe around them. Shelley often brings her labrador, Theo with her and the children then have Buddy and Theo to practice the skills they have learned. This can include walking the dogs safely on a lead, training them to sit and stay or trying to teach them new tricks. Our school blog is the best place to see what happens as we update it regularly with photos and reports of Buddy and what he is up to!
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- Encouraging expression and participation in more withdrawn children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.
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.
What level is his training?
Buddy has achieved his 'Bronze' award in the Kennel Club's Good Citizen Award. Everyone was really proud of him and he received his certificate and rosette in assembly. He is working towards Silver now.