Following a vote, where 93% of pupils were in favour, the use of therapy dogs have been introduced to Woodlane High School.
What is a therapy dog?
- A dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, hospices, disaster areas, mainstream and special schools.
- The aim of a therapy dog is to release stress and tension.
- Some young people also read to therapy dogs, building their confidence in reading.
What are the essential personality traits needed for therapy dogs?
- Exceptional tolerance of handling by strangers.
- No sensitivity to rough stroking or petting.
- Excellent obedience levels.
- The ability to walk on the lead without pulling.
- Tolerance of unusual smells and sites, such as wheelchairs, medical devices.
- No fear of unsteady movement in humans.
- A calm disposition.
- Tolerance of other animals.
- Complete lack of food or toy aggression and guarding behaviours.
Therapy dog handlers
- A handler must also be suitable for the role.
- When dogs are training to be therapy dogs, their handler is also assessed.
- The handler must control their dog in a positive manner.
- The handler must be able to recognise any signs of fear or stress in their dogs.
What happens in a therapy visit?
- Patients or young people are invited to stroke, play or spend time with the dog.
- Some may choose to simply watch the dog play.
- Some may read to the dog.