Evidence of Success
Some students have a hard time at school and can struggle with their learning and friendships as a result. Through weekly attendance at our Group Program, our students now have more positive feelings about themselves and their 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 students feel less anxious, more in control of their emotions, or have made some new friends.
Some quotes from our students who have completed a therapy dog program are:
‘This program is really good with kids who get anxiety’. - Student, Year 7
‘Learning how to connect/play with dogs and staying less anxious with dogs.’- Student, Grade 6
‘I can calm myself down in mindfulness. I can get happy with Chachka and I can leave all my bad days behind’. - Student, Grade 5
‘The best thing was being able to have some mindfulness time’. - Student, Primary School.
‘I learnt so many techniques and emotions, that I have actually experienced. It also helped me understand the importance of mindfulness’. - Student, Grade 6
‘This program really helped me realise the types of attitudes that I used towards myself and how sometimes I need to be more positive towards myself’. - Student, Grade 6
A quote from a parent (resides in Melbourne) who have witnessed the change in their child from a completed therapy dog program:
'Canine Comprehension was recommended by another tutor. Initially my daughter did not want to have anything to do with a tutor, she now looks forward to attending her sessions with Sarah and her dogs, she is disappointed if she has to miss a session!'
'Working with Canine Comprehension has been an amazing benefit to my daughter not only on an academic level but an emotional level as well. My daughter has been able to talk to Sarah, and Sarah is able to understand where my daughter is struggling with different issues. Sarah has also worked with my daughters school. Of course, the dogs always provide the additional comfort and my daughter looks forward to seeing them too.'
'Good tutoring, emotional as well as academic support, ability to liaise with the school, ability to break down issued to make them more manageable and a lovely rapport with my daughter are all reasons why I would recommend Canine Comprehension to others.”
A quote from a teacher (works in Melbourne) who have witnessed the change in their students who have completed a therapy dog program:
'What a fantastic 8 weeks we have had with Gemma and George. Students have gone away with more confidence and some with a love for dogs when before they were fearful. Thanks so much! Should happen in every school!'
Measurements of our Success
Program and individual sessions focused on unpacking anxiety and emotions, looking at strategies to assist with anxiety, mindfulness techniques, developing inter-personal and social skills including listening, team building and verbal communication skills. Canine Comprehension delivered the sessions. Their dogs are used as social lubricants, tools to calm students to allow them to open up about issues/anxieties, and a metaphor for self. The dog therapists are then able to discuss anxieties, fears and challenges by talking about how the dog would deal with them and encouraging the development of empathy.
Below is the Staff Evaluation Data on observable behaviours regarding student anxiety witnessed by supervising school staff members during the AAT Program:
- Students identifying mindfulness 89%
- Students identifying and naming feelings 91%
- Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapies 79%
- Overall decreased levels of anxiety 75%
Below is the Student Reported Data Regarding anxiety:
- I learnt about Mindfulness Strategies 91%
- I am better at knowing and naming my feelings 82%
- I know more about how my thoughts effect my behaviour and feelings 83%
- I feel less anxious now than when I started the program 69%
Students have been reported as saying:
“The best thing about this program is that it calmed me down and helped me to feel less anxious. I felt very stressed a lot of the time before I started this program.” Student, Year 11 – Yarra/Darebin
“The program had a huge impact on my anxiety and has helped me overcome it.” Student, Year 9 - Moreland
“The best thing about this program is giving me confidence and not always being anxious” Student, Year 7 - Moreland
Here is the Staff Evaluation Data on observable behaviours regarding student peer connectedness witnessed by supervising school staff members during the AAT Program:
- Talking more to peers 88%
- More peer support 86%
- Help seeking with peers 86%
- Overall increase in connection with peers 90%
Both the Staff and Student Evaluation Data confirm that the AAT Program has achieved all 4 Intended Outcomes. Staff and Students have both reported that student anxiety levels have decreased, students are more connected to their peers, and students are better able to regulate their emotions. Overall, students are also more engaged with school as a result of the Canine Comprehension Animal Assisted Therapy Program.
Surveyed by School Focus Youth Service a Department within DHHS