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How we Care For Schools

The Power of Dog-Assisted Learning in Schools

The most important thing in our world is the children, who, often, have been let down in the past. So, we offer only compassionate mentors to run our programs. Their dogs are the key to how we access young people, but the quality of these group programs comes from the curriculum and the expertise of the entire team.

Our programs focus on tailored activities to enhance specific skills and address identified needs. For example:

1. Emotional Literacy Enhancement: Participants will engage in activities such as ‘Watch and name’ with the therapy dogs, where they can attempt to observe the dog and list words as a group to suggest how the dog may be feeling. Additionally, interactive storytelling sessions about the dog’s emotions and emotional literacy-based games will be incorporated to make learning engaging and enjoyable.

2. Social/Emotional Skills Development: Activities will include structured interactions between participants and therapy dogs, promoting empathy, communication, and emotional regulation. Group discussions facilitated by mentors will encourage reflection on personal experiences and feelings, fostering a sense of belonging.

3. Motivation to Attend School: Activities in the programs are designed to incorporate incentives such as rewards and recognition for attendance and participation. These rewards are often based around games, tricks, and dog training, fostering an interactive and hands-on learning experience that is designed to create excitement and anticipation among participants and make school a positive and memorable environment.

4. Building Confidence and Self-Esteem: Participants will be encouraged to set and achieve personal goals in relation to obstacles, agility or obedience manovours with the therapy dog, with mentors providing guidance and support along the way. Opportunities for success and praise during interactions with therapy dogs will help boost confidence and self-esteem as well as give an opportunity to discuss how we can motivate and celebrate success.

Personalised Attention

  • small group settings 
  • personalised attention
  • building a safe place to share
  • leading to self-discovery & growth

Boosting Confidence and Well-being

Regular attendance in our programs can lead to more positive feelings about school and, most importantly, about themselves. The presence of a therapy dog can make even the most awkward or tough conversations a little easier. By shifting the focus to our furry friends, students often feel less anxious, more in control of their emotions, and may even make some new friends along the way.

Addressing Worries

We provide a safe space for students to discuss their concerns and worries about learning. By opening up, they can start to understand possible triggers and develop strategies for managing them.

Mindfulness Techniques

We teach young people how to stay present, reduce stress, and manage their emotions effectively through mindfulness practices.

Developing Social and Interpersonal Skills

Our programs help students develop essential social skills, manage their emotions, and cultivate empathy for others. These skills are vital for building stronger connections within their learning environment.

Award-Winning Excellence

We take immense pride in our programs' impact over the years. Canine Comprehension has received several awards for our dedication and commitment to supporting students, and we are highly regarded by parents, teachers, and the Department of Education.

Special Development

Canine Comprehension excels in working with Special Development schools and children with disabilities, recognising these students' unique challenges in traditional classroom settings.

Our interactions have been linked to:

  • reductions in ADHD symptoms
  • reductions in hyperactivity
  • less impulsive disruptions
  • fewer agitated and aggressive behaviour episodes
  • improvements in attention and coping skills

Research consistently highlights the positive impact of animal interactions on children with disabilities and learning difficulties. We are committed to empowering young people with the skills and tools that foster inner certainty to navigate the world confidently.

School Mental Health Menu to fund our programs

School Mental Health Menu to fund our programs

DET Funding details below, or go to DET website.

  • Tier:
    • Tier 1: Positive Mental Health Promotion
    • Tier 2: Early Intervention Cohort Specific Support
  • Type of intervention: Animal wellbeing programs
  • Strength of evidence: Level 3: Foundational and emerging evidence for program
  • Geographic location: State-wide, rural/regional

Intended outcomes

  • Improve student interpersonal and social skills
  • Improve student emotion management
  • Enable better connections at school

Program details

Target audience
  • Primary school students - lower
  • Primary school students - upper
  • Secondary school students - lower
  • Secondary school students - upper
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • LGBTIQ+ students
  • Asylum seeker and refugee students
  • Students with a disability
Program provider Canine Comprehension
Delivery mode
  • Face-to-face
  • Combination
  • One online session is available to make up a missed face-to-face session

Implementation considerations

  • Target population: Students in P-12 who have a broad spectrum of needs and personalities.
  • Program adaptability: Programs are written in a manner that allow tutors to change and amend the program to suit the needs of the group. Different program options allow schools to select the most relevant content for their students.
  • Staffing: One school staff member needs to be present for each session, observing and sometimes participating in the session.
  • Training requirements: There is no pre-requisite training. The use of a quiet room where there is enough space for the participants to sit in a large circle is required.
  • Factors to consider: Maximum of 10 students per group.
  • Australian context: The program is not available in Western Melbourne Wimmera South West and Barwon South West regions; Southern Melbourne South East region; Hume Moreland, Loddon Campaspe and Mallee North West regions or any of the North East regions.

Letter-From-the-Hon-James-Merlino-MP.pdf Letter-From-the-Hon-James-Merlino-MP.pdf (238kB)