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Calmer classrooms and happier homes.

Enhancing physical & mental wellbeing for better learning opportunities.

Group Connections

Group Connections

Holistic Growth through school collaborations. Targeted group programs enhance social skills, confidence, study, and self-regulation, while incorporating therapy dogs adds an extra dimension to nurture success through comprehensive development, fostering emotional well-being and resilience.

Government Funding is available.

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Individual Growth Hub

Individual Growth Hub

A transformative journey with our individualised sessions, where mentors and therapy dogs collaborate to foster resilience, motivation, and positive relationships, paving the way for success. Our NDIS Eligible programs have a proven impact on learning outcomes, ensuring holistic growth and development. 

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Adult Mind Matters

Adult Mind Matters

Professionally endorsed programs focusing on mental health in the workplace offer a unique opportunity to build your team's motivation, resilience, and joy, with therapy dogs playing a vital role in reducing stress, enhancing well-being, and promoting a positive, productive work environment.

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Meet the therapy dogs.

Oscar

Oscar

Oscar loves to bring a sense of comfort to his clients. Often when Alissa, Oscar's person, is working on her doctorate in clinical and forensic psychology, Oscar ensures his presence is peaceful and reassuring. They have a continued interest in early intervention and working with disadvantaged populations.

Reef

Reef can be high-energy or relaxed, depending on what is asked of him. This way, he can teach zones of regulation and emotional literacy. His person, Sarah, is a fully qualified Youth Worker, and their sessions are fun and flexible.  They understand that students require targeted and individualised support to thrive. 

Ebony

Ebony can make people smile with just her calming presence. In addition, Ebony and her person, Sharon, have experience working with youth, such as school welfare and hearing impairment. Ebony and Sharon are interested in enabling schools to intervene early to support students.

Ned

Ned is an expert snuggler who has worked with his person, Helen, as a Therapy Dog for homeless young people and families experiencing domestic violence. Their specific interests are ADHD, Autism, Depression and supporting the family unit.

Fern

Fern is an expert at encouraging young people to seek healthy peer relationships. Her human, Juliet, has a background in teaching, recreation and sports management. Together they look for ways to help children flourish in different learning environments.

Jett & Ollie

Both dogs love allowing young people to improve their communication style by practising tricks and obedience. Along with their person, Alison, they work to provide children with the support to build confidence and skills that allow them to engage more positively in school and life.

Ruby

Ruby inspires her clients to love learning.  Her human, Amy, is an occupational therapist with a background in early intervention, community well-being and private practice. Amy and Ruby have a keen interest in skill development, problem-solving and positive resilience.

Norma

Norma is a rescue Greyhound, she has been nurtured by her family to bring out her caring nature. Norma is a relaxed quiet dog with a gentle and funny personality. She loves a good ear rub but is just as happy sleeping quietly in the corner. She loves being out and about to see new things.

River

River‘s early life was a struggle; as a result, she wants to show children how to thrive through education. She works with her person, Sarah, who is interested in evidenced based practices that promote mental health, which improves the lives of children, parents and teachers.

George

George is all about children conquering their fears. His focus is on confidence and patience. His person, Judy, is experienced in managing young people's emotional, developmental, and mental health issues and is excited to help families affected by COVID lockdowns.

Boofred

Boofred wants his clients to love school. He encourages children to try new things and discover new ways of learning. His person, Melissa, is a primary school teacher passionate about thinking outside the box to create a happy and comfortable school environment.

Jonesy

Jonesy and his person, Sherice, specialise in advocating for neurodiverse children in mainstream schools. Sherice has further education in collaborative and proactive solutions and communication training.  They are passionate about ensuring that all children have access to quality education that meets their needs.

Ollie

Ollie is an adorable 8-month-old medium Groodle (Golden Retriever x Medium Poodle) who craves attention from everyone he meets. Ollie is a delightful goofball brimming with energy, yet remarkably calm when surrounded by kids.

Victor

Introducing Victor, the brilliantly clever Mini Poodle who has graduated with flying colours from Lead The Way Institute after completing an intensive therapy dog training course with his equally talented human, Mini. Together, they make an unbeatable team dedicated to teaching and encouraging children.

Bubbles

Bubbles' journey from hardship to happiness has enriched her life and touched the hearts of those she encounters. With her unwavering love for people, she continues to make a positive impact, leaving a trail of joy and smiles wherever she goes.

Ness

Ness, the full-blooded Kelpie, has her own captivating story of rescue. Saved from a farm in NSW as a "failed" sheepdog, this petite powerhouse is often mistaken for a puppy due to her small size. With boundless energy, Ness loves nothing more than sprinting around at top speed.

Life-changing school visits

CommBank Australian of the Day CEO Sarah: Unlocking Educational Goals with Dogs & Children. Improve Parental Peace of Mind.

Promoting community and literacy

Dog Ears: A Collaboration with Victorian Libraries. Friendly Furry Companions Enhancing Social & Emotional Outcomes, and Love for Books!

Innovation in education

CEO Sarah on Winning the Enterpunership, Innovation, and Leadership Award: A Unique Solution for Learning Readiness and School Success.

Testimonials

I have found the team at Canine Comprehension flexible and easy to work with to ensure their programs are effective for our participating schools and their students. Teachers from participating schools have identified improvements in mindset, participation, and behavioural incidents amongst their participating students, with many students also demonstrating improvements in their problem solving and risk taking ability, which will assist them as they transition into secondary school.

Sarah and Reef have provided a welcoming space and a perfect motivator to participate, with students more engaged in their education, contributing to improved attendance.

Knox City Council

The program taught me how to be able to understand myself more and be able to calm myself. 

- Year 7 student, McGuire College, Shepparton

Calming

"Our students loved the visits with Sarah and Minnie, during the 8 week program, they grew in confidence and we were able to articulate strategies they could use to alleviate stress in their lives and talk themselves into a positive frame of mind.  

Minnie was great at displaying the emotions that the students feel every day, and the students were comfortable to discuss Minnie's emotions while learning about their own!  

Would definitely recommend this program to schools looking to support anxious students!"

Our students loved the visits!

You make me proud to be an Aussie! Wish we were close enough for my teen to attend your classes. You are amazing. Fantastic story, well told. I especially love the video.

- Judge - 2019 Stevie Awards, New York.

Fantastic story

I love the entire business and results! So inspiring!

- Judge - 2019 Stevie Awards, New York.

So inspiring!

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FAQs

What is Dog Assisted Learning?

Some children have a hard time at school and struggle with learning and friendships.  Canine Comprehension support students in understanding their learning process better. A well-trained dog and a mentor will work with an individual or a group throughout the term. Through weekly attendance, young people may 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 new friends.

Our focus is to:

  • Help them discuss their worries about learning            
  • Learn more about possible triggers                           
  • Learn strategies and develop confidence in managing them               
  • Practice mindfulness techniques                           
  • Assist young people in developing interpersonal and social skills, managing their emotions and empathy for others, and enabling better connections in their learning environment.

What are your qualifications and experience?

Our Director, Sarah, holds a Bachelor's as well as a Master's 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 lifelong learning.  We aim to employ various educational and social justice backgrounds, such as teachers, social workers, occupational therapists, nursing, counsellors, and school administrators.  Our tutors have experience working with young people with various needs and enjoy the challenge of helping struggling learners 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 behaviour with their working dog.

All of our Tutors hold a current driver's licence, Working With Children Check and First Aid certificate.

What do the AAE dogs do in schools or mentoring sessions?

The dogs have many jobs.  Their main goal is to assist young people in calming, connecting and focusing so the tutor can do their job more effectively.  A few examples of how we use dogs are:

  • Mindfulness sessions teach young people breathing techniques by 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 more robust 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 read more here.

What is your diversity policy?

Canine comprehension has a welcoming attitude to diversity and is committed to embracing and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the education sector and allied health services. Canine Comprehension welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Awards

Lead Kindness Platinum Partner, Sarah Macdonald Canine Comprehension
Sarah Macdonald : Winner of the 2024 Great Companies International Women Entrepreneur Award
Canine Comprehension is a 2022 ROAR Silver Award Winner
Roar Award Finalist 2022

Partner Schools and Businesses

Frankston City Libraries
CBQ Financial Services
St Pauls Primary School Kealba
Lalor Secondary College
Cranbourne Secondary College Logo
Health Ability
Truganina South Primary School
Logo for Mullum Road Clinic
Westall Primary School
Western Port Secondary College
City of Yarra
Fawkner Primary School Logo
Ashwood Primary School
Ferntree Gully South Primary School
Whitehorse Primary School
Web Ideas Logo
Jackson School
Roxburgh Homestead Primary School
Melton City Libraries
Member of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations
Crib Point Primary School