Over the years, numerous research studies have been undertaken to validate the benefits of animal assisted activity and in particular the contribution of therapy dogs. Empirical evidence has shown that therapy dogs can enhance children’s psychological development, improve social skills, and increase self-esteem among other benefits.
Dogs can also teach responsibility, compassion, and respect for other living things. Dogs in the classroom can be used to calm fears, relieve anxiety, and teach skills.
These benefits can be categorised in to the following 5 areas of a child’s development:
Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses
Social – time with a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, promotes greater self-esteem and well-being, and focused interaction with others.
Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem solving and game playing.
Emotional – an adorable four-legged friend improves self-esteem, acceptance from others, and lifts mood often provoking laughter.
Environmental – a dog in a facility decreases the feeling of a sterile environment and can lift moods.
Research has demonstrated that therapy dogs properly managed in the school setting can not only make a measurable difference in terms of gaining various skills such as reading enhancement, but also in contributing critically to emotional and relational development. The presence of a therapy dog can decrease anxiety and enable students to work through issues such as anger management, bullying tendencies and others psycho/social problems.
Albert is 5 years old and loves coming to school, he gets so excited when the children arrive in the morning as he knows he will get lots of lovely cuddles. He is very good at understanding when children and adults are upset and they need just a little cuddle to make them feel better and will often lay his head on their laps. He loves going out on break duty as the children provide him with an endless supply of sticks. He is wonderful at making the classroom and Junior School feel calm and will often nudge up to children under their desks, he may be seen lying in the corridor keeping a watchful eye to make sure everyone is safe and sound and he is always there to listen.
Baloo Bear BG
Baloo was born on the 31st of March 2016. He is a chocolate Labrador. He has been attending Holmewood since he was 9 weeks old and successfully passed his PAT test at the age of 1. He is based upstairs in the Collings building, bringing much happiness to children. His twice weekly outdoor walks have been popular with Junior and Senior School children. Baloo is also active in the local community and visits the Hospice in the Weald yearly with the school Choir, as well as a sheltered accommodation in Crowborough, during the holidays.
Since her start at Holmewood, Molly is well-known for her love of chasing tennis balls and sniffing out any dropped cheese at break times. Mrs Spoor is her human and both can be found in the Prep school where Molly enjoys attending lessons, hearing readers and being a patient and non-judgemental listener. She was adopted by the Spoor family when she was between 1 and 2 years old after a very sad start to life, however she has bounced back with a love of life over the past seven years. She thoroughly enjoys her days at Holmewood, especially when children are kind enough to rub her tummy.
Very beautiful, 5 year old Beagle. Cheeky girl who eats everything! Escapologist extraordinaire who loves an adventure out and about. Known to all neighbours in her local area. Mojo visits our PrePrep, spending time with the children, listening to them read, always available for cuddles and a heart to heart chat with a child. Her gentle nature and medium size make her a great companion for younger children. She loves being the centre of attention so never walk past her without a pat or without saying hello.
Albert, Baloo, Molly and Mojo are integral members of our school community and the important role they play in supporting our pupils is evident for everyone.