Our School Dog Jackson
The value of “pet therapy” is widely accepted as a powerful aid to interaction and communication. The presence of companion animals improves well-being and lowers the rate of anxiety, simply by making the environment happier, less scary and more enjoyable. It is very important that children are taught how to interact appropriately with animals they may meet. The context of our school community is that many families do not have pets at home and we’ve observed that some of our children can be very nervous around animals.
There is increasing research that children can benefit immensely from getting to know a school dog, both educationally and emotionally:
- Dogs teach children about responsibility – by children having to remember to feed and give water to the dog it can give them a sense of importance and satisfaction that they may not get from other responsibilities
- Dogs teach children patience – they do not always do as they are told first time!
- Dogs teach children compassion – just like us, dogs feel pain and emotion
- Dogs teach children about socialisation – children who struggle to make friends can find a reassuring and accepting friend in a dog.
- By learning how to interact with a dog, children learn how to socialise with other children
- Dogs are fun and children show great enjoyment from interaction with a dog– they greet you with a wagging tail every day and put a smile on your face, even on a bad day.
- Dogs can support children’s mental health and well-being. A dog can bring much joy and help to all the children they meet and is happy to provide plenty of hugs to the children. One child after spending time with our school dog said, “Jackson made me feel better”.
The dog, Jackson, is owned by the Head Teacher (Tamara Bennett). Jackson, is a Bedlington Terrier, who has been very well socialised from a puppy and is used to young children. He is well trained, having been awarded all three Kennel Club Good Citizen Obedience awards – Bronze, Silver and Gold. He is currently attending further training in Agility. Bedlington Terriers do not shed hair and so are much less likely to set off allergic reactions. The Head Teacher is responsible for the dog and ensures he is healthy and kept up to date with vaccinations and worming treatment.
The Governors have approved the presence of the school dog on the premises and agree that the responsibility of the dog is with the Head Teacher.
If children have allergies to animals or their families are concerned about their child interacting with the school dog, please let us know. No child will be forced to meet Jackson, although we find that children who are initially nervous, are usually happy to stroke him, in their own time.
You can find out more in our Policy which includes a risk assessment below.