Harvey is an Australian Labradoodle. He is in training to become our school dog and is set to become an integral part of our school community. Harvey has lived at home at home with my family and me since he was 8 weeks old. His was born on 15th May, 2021.
He has completed a course of puppy socialisation classes and attended intermediate dog training. We are also working with Canine Assisted Learning to support Harvey to become our school assistance dog. He passed the first CAL assessment with flying colours. CAL will give Harvey’s school handlers regular training and termly visits to assess Harvey for the next steps.
Harvey spends 2 afternoons a week in school. This will increase as his training progresses.
When deciding on a suitable dog to have in school, we have chosen to have an Australian Labradoodle for the following reasons:
A thorough risk assessment has been undertaken and this details the hygiene practices that will be in place, such as cleaning of hands and the environment before and after meeting Harvey. He is fully insured and has regular visits to the vets where he is kept up to date with vaccinations, worming and flea treatments.
He is kept on a lead when moving round the school and working with children.
What are the benefits of having a school dog?
Numerous research studies have shown the benefits of therapy/assistance dogs in schools. Therapy dogs have are relatively new to schools in this country (less than a decade). However, they have been commonplace in schools in the USA and Australia for many years.
Evidence indicates that benefits include:
· 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,
· Developing the understanding of unconditional love,
· Supporting children to develop empathy,
· Support 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 one of the most suitable breeds of dog for our school, pupils, staff and the Hunt family (Mrs Hunt, Assistant Headteacher is the owner).
·Rigorous research was carried out into the breeder to ensure Harvey is suitable for interaction with children.
· A full risk assessment and policy has been written and will be reviewed regularly.
· All contact will be carefully planned and children will not be left unsupervised with Harvey.
· When not working, Harvey will be based in one of the school offices.
.Harvey has attended dog training and school specific dog training with Mrs Hunt, Mrs Hall and Mrs Hampton.
School Dog Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Who is the legal owner of the dog and who pays for its costs?
A: The legal owner of the dog is Mrs Hunt; she will bear the costs associated with owning the dog; the school budget will support insurance and CAL training.
Q: Is the dog be from a reputable breeder?
A: Yes. Harvey was purchased from a reputable breeder, Raisedoodles. The breed was specifically chosen for its temperament and trainability.
Q: Has a risk assessment been undertaken?
A: Yes, a full risk assessment is in place, which will have regular reviews. We have carefully considered having a dog in school and sought advice from many sources, including other schools that successfully have a school dog.
Q: Who is responsible for training?
A: Mrs Hunt is the legal owner of the dog and as a result, will be responsible for its initial training.
Q: How will the dog be toileted to ensure hygiene for all?
A: In the interest of health and hygiene, Harvey is taken to an area outside of the school grounds that children do not have access to. The staff in charge of the dog ensure that this is cleared away appropriately, leaving no trace on the ground, cleaning the area with disinfectant if needed.
Q: How will the dog’s welfare be considered?
A: Harvey has time outside, rest time and playtime. He has own space in Mrs Hunt and Mrs Hall’s office where the pupils do not disturb him. He has unlimited access to water. We work carefully to ensure Harvey’s welfare is always considered and remove him from the school environment if we don’t feel he is happy. Harvey has started by coming in for 2 mornings a week .
Q: How will this be managed where children have allergies?
A: Harvey was chosen partly due to the fact he is a hypoallergenic breed. However, any pupils with allergies to dogs will be included into the risk assessment, as they are made known to the school. Please ensure we have up to date medical records with this information.
Q: My child is frightened of dogs; how will you manage this?
A: Access to the Harvey is carefully managed and supervised. Children do not need to have close contact with him if they or their parents/carers have expressed this. We hope to work closely with parents of children who are fearful of dogs to alleviate their fear and to teach them how to manage this.
If you do not want your child to have contact with Harvey, please email the school office.
If you have any worries or concerns about Harvey then please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Hunt