Power is in the connection
Our highly trained educators conduct our programs to deliver calmer school environments
Our programs that we use are innovative and evidence-based, they are designed specifically for children who struggle to engage within their world. They may have behavioural issues or have been diagnosed with a disorder that inhibits them to socialise, collaborate or learn.More About Us
We provide a calmer school environment through our tailored programs. We know that being able to provide a positive environment that is calm increases positive behaviours throughout the classroom, school and family environments.More Info
Parents & Carers
With early intervention, we can help your child to process the emotions they are currently feeling and help them to understand them in a safe environment. Our highly trained tutors and dogs offer a connection that some children are craving and can help to create surroundings that are conducive to learning.More Info
The programs we run are evidenced based and innovative. We aim to create an environment that offers conducive learning experiences to a broad range of students whether in the classroom or at home.
What is Dog Assisted Learning?
Some children have a hard time at school and can struggle with their learning and friendships as a result. Canine Comprehension support students in understanding their learning process better. A well-trained dog and a tutor will work with an individual or a group throughout a term. Through weekly attendance young people may now have more positive feelings about themselves and school. The presence of a dog can make awkward or tough conversations a little easier because the focus is not on the students. As a result, your child may feel less anxious, more in control of their emotions, or have made some new friends.
Our focus is to:
- Help them discuss their worries around learning
- Learn more about possible triggers
- Learn strategies and develop confidence in managing them
- Practice mindfulness techniques
- Assist young people develop interpersonal and social skills, manage their own emotions and develop empathy for others, enabling better connections in their learning environment.
What are your qualifications and experience?
Our Director, Sarah holds a Bachelor as well as a Masters in Teaching. Sarah writes all of the curriculum and pedagogy documents used in our programs. She also consults closely with the tutors on educational and classroom management issues.
The Canine Comprehension team is a wealth of knowledge and invested in life-long learning. We aim to employ from a broad range of educational and social justice backgrounds, such as teachers, social workers, occupational therapists, nursing, counsellors, school administrators. Our tutors have experience working with young people with various needs and enjoy the challenge of helping a struggling learner connect with their education. Please see our ‘meet us page’ to learn more about each tutor.
All of our Tutor / AAE dog teams have the highest certifications of Animal Assisted Therapy available in Australia. Most are trained through Lead the Way Institute and are reassessed annually to maintain certification. The tutors also have access to dog trainers, who can help them with improving manners, trick training and specific behavior with their working dog.
All of our Tutors hold a current drivers licence, Working With Childrens Check and First Aid certificate.
What do the AAE dogs do in schools or tutoring sessions?
The dogs have many jobs. Their main goal is to assist young people in calming, connecting and focusing so the tutor is able to do their job more effectively. A few examples of how we use the dogs are:
- Mindfulness sessions, where young people learn breathing techniques through watching a snoozing dog.
- Agility exercises, where young people have to problem solve and effectively communicate to get the dog through the course.
- Games with the dog, where the young person has to work out stronger and weaker motivators for the dog.
- Dog body language study, where young people discuss the zones of regulation the dog may be experiencing.
What is the evidence for using a AAE Dog?
ust petting a dog can reduce the petters blood pressure and heart rate (Get Healthy, Get a Dog, Harvard Medical School) and having a pet dog in the home was associated with a decreased probability of childhood anxiety (Gadomski AM, Scribani MB, Krupa N, Jenkins P, Nagykaldi Z, Olson AL. Pet Dogs and Children’s Health: Opportunities for Chronic Disease Prevention).
For kids with anxiety and school refusal the use of the therapy dog as social lubricant cannot be denied (Menzies, 2003; Kogan, Granger, Gitchett, Helmer & Young, 1999; Baker, Pandurangi; Best, 2003). There are numerous studies citing the benefit of being with a dog, they show that having a dog present will increase a persons likelihood of having positive social interactions with others. (Mallon, 1994; Hart, 2000) Studies where kids are able to take the dog for short walks (Fine, 2000) show improved therapeutic outcomes for clients.
Studies have shown that learnings and effects from these AAIs can last well into 12 months after the client has worked with the dog (Barker et. al, 2003). Hanselman (2001) recommends that group interventions with your people should consist of at least10 sessions to make sustained behaviour change. Kogan, Granger, Fitchett, Helmer & Young, 1999 report that dog training intervention (just like the courses we run) resulted in improved pro social behaviour such as eye contact, smiling and posture and a reduction in negative behaviours.
Canine Comprehension also has their own independently collated research by School Focused Youth Service. You can find a copy here.
Words of Success
"Our young people who have experienced trauma, find it particularly difficult to establish relationships and build trust. One of the beautiful things I have observed is the bond that grows between the child and the dog and of course with Sarah. The young people don't feel judged or intimidated by the dog and find it easier to talk and open up. This in turn helps them to build self confidence and enhance their relationships with others.
One of the most valuable out-comes our children and young people get from working with dogs and Sarah, is the 'space' that Sarah creates that enables them to learn. Working with the dogs helps them to find a calm state, a 'space' in their over-active brains for new information to be processed. Traumatised children and young people find it difficult to absorb and process new information. Interacting with the dogs, together with the mindfulness practices used by Sarah, allows our children and young people not only to engage with learning, but to experience success in learning and to discover that learning can be fun."
Guilla Digiglio - Mackillop Family Services