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Our programs create calmer classrooms and help at-risk students become less anxious

We know that there is power in connection. Many children are stuck in patterns of behaviour that simply stop them from engaging, learning, creating and collaborating with their teachers, carers, families and peers. Our innovative, curated programs create an environment where kids can connect with their community and with their education.

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Calmer classrooms are the goal. We know that when we can reduce anxiety and increase inclusive behaviours if we have calmer classrooms, calmer schools and calmer families.

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Parents & Carers

Parents & Carers

Connecting with kids is the key. We know that connection is the key to unlocking and exploring changes in behaviour and opening up opportunities for learning. 

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We are committed to lifelong learning and know the value of education. Our tailored strategies and programs are continually being refined to deliver real outcomes for young people.

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Case Study

Professional Case Study

Peter had tried everything and was looking for a new resource, a new way to approach this student.  That’s when a colleague suggested Canine Comprehension. 


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 / AAI 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 AAI 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 AAI 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

"Mill Park Heights Primary school were privileged to be able to participate in the Canine Comprehension Program.  We certainly recommend Sarah and Minnie to other schools where children have worries."

Teacher - Mill Park Heights Primary School, Mill Park

Associations & Compliance

Lead the Way
MGA Insurance Group
Working with Children Check