Wellbeing Dogs

Mrs Goodwin and Miss Elphinstone

2nd July 2021

Welcoming four-legged friends into the classroom is a growing trend across the country and research shows that these new classmates provide significant benefits for students. According to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, ‘Therapy dogs are ‘miracle workers’ because of their calming effect on students and teachers. They help with everything from trauma to reading interventions to a positive school climate’. 

It has been proven that dogs in classrooms provide both physical and emotional health benefits for students. According to one study published by the National Institute of Health, having a dog present in the classroom promotes a positive mood and provides significant anti-stress effects on the body. In fact, the simple act of petting a dog has the effect of lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Pet therapy also lowers stress hormones like cortisol and increases oxytocin. In other words, just being in contact with a wellbeing dog calms children down when they are upset and helps keep their anxieties at bay. Reducing feelings of anxiety and depression enables children to focus on their learning.  

Perhaps the greatest benefit of wellbeing dogs in the classroom is the effect on student’s social-emotional development. Loving and lovable, dogs are friendly companions and good listeners who make no judgments. Children bond easily with these gentle creatures, helping them feel more connected and confident. This leads to a reduction in negative behaviour and aggression. The relationships developed between child and school dog build trust and trustworthiness in children and help them develop a greater capacity for empathy. 

Wellbeing dogs not only have a positive impact on emotional well-being, they have an influence on cognitive development. Interacting with dogs in school improves student’s reading skills, stimulates memory and problem-solving skills and even optimises executive-functioning skills. 

Research suggests that, the presence of a dog in an educational setting seems to support concentration, attention, motivation and relaxation, reflecting reduction of high stress levels which inhibit effective learning and performance. We are very excited to be able to introduce our own Wellbeing dogs, Charlie and Monty to our Solefield family and hope that this will be one of the most memorable and beneficial experiences of your children’s school years here at Solefield.