Well-being Dog Project
Research has unequivocally demonstrated the manifold benefits of well-trained dogs in various settings. Scientific evidence underscores their remarkable capacity to alleviate stress, anxiety, and lower heart rates, creating a soothing presence. In the context of children, these furry companions play a pivotal role in emotional regulation, fostering social connections, and enhancing communication skills. Beyond this, dogs contribute to a more relaxed school environment, ultimately bolstering academic performance. Our initial observations indicate that neurodivergent children experience heightened calmness and attentiveness in the presence of dogs, particularly during group activities. Additionally, children grappling with severe separation anxiety exhibit immediate improvements in their well-being. For adults, dogs prove invaluable in trauma management, anxiety alleviation, mitigating the escalation cycle, nurturing leadership skills, and enhancing communication. They also cultivate empathy, bolster social awareness, and reduce reactivity.
The Dog Connect Program's inception occurred within Victorian school communities, and it has since proliferated to encompass over 250 schools across Australia. The introduction of well-being dogs has yielded tangible outcomes, including enhanced attendance rates and a heightened enthusiasm for learning among students. Both students and staff have attested to increased happiness and a notable reduction in anxiety across their respective communities. While some Canberra schools have embraced this program, official accreditation remains pending. Our approach entails a trial period to minimize financial commitments. It is imperative to clarify that the well-being dogs are meticulously selected to suit each unique environment and are not designated as therapy or assistance dogs.
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT...
Our program goes beyond traditional education by actively teaching children about dogs and how to handle them responsibly, significantly reducing accidents and anxiety within our community. Thus far, the success of this program has been remarkable. We maintain rigorous monitoring, with senior staff members consistently present when dogs are introduced into the classroom.
Notably, the most significant positive impacts have been observed in our junior preschool, particularly among children with challenging behaviors and neurodiversity. Our dedicated team relies on the invaluable assistance of Arya and Marissa's three dogs, who have been an integral part of our community for an extended period. These dogs are well-acquainted with both the children and our premises, ensuring a seamless and safe interaction. We prioritize the comfort and safety of every child. If a child displays any reluctance or fear in interacting with the animals, our staff never compel them but instead provide understanding and assistance. We encourage open and honest communication with our families, welcoming them to inform us of any fears or allergies within their child or family. We are always prepared to provide alternative program options that suit individual needs.
Furthermore, we take proactive steps to inform visitors about the presence of dogs on our premises by prominently displaying informative posters on our front door. This transparency underscores our commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone within our educational community.