The dogs are trained by an organization called Dogs Helping Kids (DHK ) before they are handed over to a school. Apparently the effect on children’s behaviour and learning is quite marked. “Classroom dogs not only improve literacy skills but also have a calming effect.” The dog “just goes to sleep and the children don’t want to wake him so they are really quiet – and these are children that do have a tendency to get a bit excited.”
One particular dog is learning how to become a “listening dog” who will help children read aloud. “He will put his head in their lap and listen, prompting them to turn a page with his paw.” As a result, children increase their reading levels.
A dog’s presence in school also reduces truancy. Children who have a poor record of attendance are allowed to take a dog for a walk with a teacher at break time. “It makes (the children) feel quite special and their attendance has improved massively”.
What a heartening story!