Hi my name is Rocky and I am the new school dog!
I am a golden/red labrador and when I'm not at school I live with my owner Mrs Plummer.
I hope to get to meet you all soon!
Rocky is currently 9 weeks old and has started coming into school today, to get used to his surroundings. Whilst he is so young he will remain in the office areas and not have too much interaction with the children. He will be able to become accustomed to his new surroundings from the start and will ‘grow up’ as part of South Farnborough Junior School. Rocky will be introduced to the children safely and slowly over a period of months.
Rocky will be undergoing training, to ensure he is well-trained for being around children. We have selected Canine Assisted Learning https://www.canineassistedlearning.com/ to work with who will work with us to teach Rocky to become an ‘Affiliated Learning Dog’.
We wish to reassure parents and carers that we have undertaken a thorough risk assessment as well as a significant amount of research into the advantages of having a school dog and believe the positive effects of such demonstrably outweigh any negatives.
Some of the many benefits of having a school dog include the following:
• Cognitive development – building a companionship with a dog helps children stimulate their memory, problem-solving and game-playing skills. Having a school dog is known to increase enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of animals, which motivates children to think and learn.
• Social skills – dogs provide a mutual topic for conversation with others, and encourage responsibility, wellbeing and focussed interaction with others.
• Emotional skills – dogs improve self-esteem, acceptance from others and are known for improving moods. Dogs can also help children develop compassion and respect for other living things and can reduce children’s anxiety. Building respect can improve children’s relationships with each other, parents and teachers and shows them how to nurture and care for another living thing. If any children are suffering from bereavement or are particularly sad, dogs can provide children with comfort and friendship.
• Physical development – interaction with dogs is known to reduce blood pressure, provide tactile stimulation, assist with pain management and give motivation for children to move and walk.
• School community – having a school dog builds the sense of a family environment and togetherness
Q. Who is the legal owner of the dog and who pays for its costs?
A. The Legal owner of the dog will be Mrs Plummer who will care for the dog out of school hours and will bear the costs associated with it. She will also be responsible for his training, with support from a professional trainer.
Q. Will the dog be a distraction?
A. Rocky will be kept in the office area which is separate from the classrooms to ensure that he only comes into contact with the children at appropriate times throughout the day. A careful timetable will be put together to ensure Rocky gets to spend time equally with all classes when he is ready to do so.
Q. Has a risk assessment been undertaken?
A. Yes, we have carefully considered having a dog in school and have sought advice from many sources, including other schools that successfully have a school dog.
Q. How will the dog be toileted to ensure hygiene for all?
A. In the interest of health and safety, Rocky will be toileted in an area of the school site where the children have no access. Thus, there will be no chance of the children coming into contact with faeces. While he is in training, any accidents that happen will be cleaned immediately and in an appropriate and hygienic way. Should this happen whilst any children are in close vicinity to the dog then they will be removed while thorough cleaning takes place.
Q. How will Rocky’s welfare be considered?
A. Once old enough, Rocky will be exercised/walked throughout the day. He will be timetabled to join children around the school at times, however he will be kept in the Office area where he will have his own quiet, safe space to sleep and relax. He will always have access to food and water.
Q. My child has allergies; how will this be managed?
A. We already manage a number of allergies at school and this will be no different for children and adults that are allergic to dogs. Individual needs will always be met and we are happy to put additional control measures in place (please specify if your child is allergic to dogs in the comment section of the permission slip below).
Q. My child is frightened of dogs; how will this be managed?
A. Interaction with Rocky will be carefully managed and supervised over several months. Children do not need to have close contact with him unless they wish to and permission for this has been given. We hope to work closely with children who are fearful of dogs to alleviate their fear and to teach them how to manage this.