A Therapy Dog is a therapeutic and educational intervention. Our therapy dog, Wally, has been with us since the end of 2019. The students were involved in naming our therapy dog. He is a carefully selected Labradoodle that meets the criteria for this role. Wally works with the Principal, School Counsellor, Support Teacher, Executive Staff, and in classrooms with teachers and support staff where appropriate.
Research on therapy dogs has proven a strong positive impact on wellbeing, with students who require learning assistance and/or ‘time’ for anxiety and refocusing on their learning and behaviour.
Research supports that a therapy dog can:
- Support the growth of student empathy and appropriate interpersonal skills
- Help individual students develop their social skills and confidence
- Be soothing, and that the presence of the dog can assist in building rapport more quickly between a student and their peers, and a student and their teacher
- Improve individual student’s skills to pick up social cues that are imperative to positive human relationships
- Lead to improved school attendance
- Decrease learner anxiety behaviours resulting in improved learning outcomes
- Support positive changes towards learning and improved motivation
- Enhance relationships with peers and teachers due to experiencing trust and unconditional love from the therapy dog.