I felt the tutor was able to accurately pitch and adjust each session. The group dynamics was well supported by giving individual students positive and constructive feedback. There has been a significant change in the capacity of the students to feel comfortable with each other and the dogs and to be better equipped to understand how they communicate to one another.

We felt that we were very fortunate to participate in this program and hope it can be an ongoing partnership.

Learning diversity and transition leader,  Sacred Heart primary school Fitzroy.

The best thing about the program was playing with Joosh, she was my favourite. I also liked it when Chelsie talks to us about how we feel about going to high school. When we were meditating she has a really calming voice everything was perfect. I hope to see them again.

Year 6 student, Sacred heart school, Fitzroy

The tutor was able to engage the students and relate to the strategies to the students needs. I was extremely happy with the content of the program. The students were happier at school and even the staff were able to learn some more strategies to help them. I couldn’t be happier with the program and the impact it has had on our anxious at risk students.

Assistant principal, Mount Ridley College

My favourite thing was being with the dogs and having something to look forward to at school

year 7 student, catholic ladies College, Eltham

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

Year 7 student, McGuire College, Shepparton

The students have felt comfortable to discuss their anxiety in front of other students.  The students would have liked more weeks it is a fantastic program.

Learning support leader, catholic ladies College, Eltham

'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

"I was introduced to Canine Comprehension because Sarah was my puppy trainer.  Young people in my programs are less anxious, more engaged with learning, school and peers through working with Canine Comprehension.  

I would recommend Canine Comprehension to others because they are professional, friendly, effective and amazing."

Rachael Scoble, Epping

"I decided I needed an English tutor for extra help during year 12.  having a tutor allowed me to have a second perspective on what I was learning at school.  I also decided I needed a tutor as one on one lessons would further my understanding on subjects as a teacher with 23 other students could not.

My lessons with Sarah were usually an hour long and we would do multiple tasks to assist with that i was learning in class.  We created a 'vocab bank' to demonstrate a larger vocabulary and I would write down objectives and ways to begin sentences alternatively.  We would look as essay writing by myself and other students and I learnt how to write higher quality essays.  We would plan essays and continue to edit other essays I has previously written.

In our lessons we would also find background information on characters in the novels I was studying and use that insight to fully grasp an understanding on the texts.  The notes taken during our lessons would be emailed to me so I could look over it during the week when I studied.

Through tutoring I was able to greatly improve my marks.  Having a second person who has a vested interest in my education helped me to achieve higher.  I learnt how to think about ideas for myself instead of just resighting what my class mates and teacher has said.

The lessons would act as a revision and due to that I found that revising was mush easier to do when you have structure in your planning.  As the year went on I found an interest in what I was learning and I was more driven to achieve the 
highest mark possible.

I would highly recommend Sarah as a tutor for anyone who has a little self doubt.  Sarah has the ability to bring out the best in you."

Biranna - VCE Student

"The impact this kind of tutoring has had on my young people has been quite incredible.  

Sarah is well informed about children's educational practices and animal therapy, and the two mesh together to provide safe, secure learning environments for young people affected by trauma.  The use of an animal aid to engage with and bring a burst of happiness into these children's lives has seen them change and grow over time.  

Before Sarah became their tutor, there was little evidence to suggest any would take a pencil in their hand and write letters, let alone concentrate on anything that looked like book work."

Anonymous Carer

"Sarah brings together her passions and vibrance for her work with young people coupled with an outstanding ability to train dogs a therapeutic aids.  The clients Sarah has been working with have complex behavioural and socioemotional requirements.  

The unique idea of incorporating dog assisted therapy and children's educational needs has served our clients well through weekly tutroing in their homes."

Anonymous Carer

While I've always known on one level the health benefits that can be experienced when people have access to pets, over the past 6 months i have witnessed the profound positive impact that pet therapy sessions can have on increasing a child's engagement with school.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child who was previously resistant to attending school not only be enthusiastic about coming to be involved in the pet therapy sessions but actively involved and challenging themselves through competing the activities that are presented to them.  

Sarah has a beautiful way of relating to the students needs and interests and weaves this through their interactions with the dog and the learning tasks she plans for them.  I've watched as the student has gained more and more confidence in themselves and their own ability through training Oscar to do tricks and then build on this confidence by engaging in increasing amounts with the regular school program.  The flow on benefits for the rest of our students as well have been huge and everyone's feelings get a lift when Sarah and Oscar walk into the school grounds.

I can't speak highly enough of the program that Sarah provides and am now looking at ways in which more of our students can benefit from the program she provides.  It is said that a picture paints a thousand words and to see the huge smile that lights up my students face each time Sarah and Oscar are here is worth every moment and dollar I spend in the program."

Anonymous Teacher

"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

'The best thing about this program is creating a network of friends who I know struggle in a similar way to me.'

Student, Year 11 - Yarra/Darebin

"Many of the students involved are showing more persistence in their day-to-day activities. They seem more confident in dealing with their peers and are less anxious in the classroom"

Teacher Primary School – Whittlesea

"Fantastic program. Jovana was outstanding at exploring strategies to reduce anxiety, whilst holding the girls' emotional wellbeing and then returning back to a group situation"

Secondary School SWC - Yarra / Darebin

"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

"Most Significant Change has been students forming relationships with students they haven't previously had a friendship with and confidence in talking about their thoughts and feelings."

Secondary School SWC - Moreland

"The change in this particular student has been amazing - confidence; willingness to speak with others in formal and informal situations. A student who now smiles and actively engages with others. She also uses her initiative and makes decisions independently which she wasn't doing before."

Secondary School SWC - Moreland

"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

"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!"


"The canine comprehension program was a terrific addition to our social emotional learning at St Catherine's.  The students thoroughly enjoyed each session particularly handling George the dog.  

I could see the students develop confidence and they willingly shared their emotions.  The instructor Gemma was professional and gave good strategies for the students to use when they felt anxious.  

Some of the students in the program have made it clear that they would like to own a dog like George on day.  

Thank you so much!"

Teacher - St Catherine’s, Lalor

"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!"


"The Wellbeing Team at Lalor Secondary College has acquired the services of Canine Comprehension to assist with junior school students who present with increased levels of anxiety, stress or require additional support with problem solving. Canine Comprehension has also actively participated and been an integral support at Lalor Secondary College’s Discovery Evening. Staff at Canine Comprehension have always maintained professionalism whilst exercising a level of compassion when working with our students. I highly recommend Canine Comprehension to all schools and organisations working with vulnerable children and young people in the community.

Canine Comprehension is enjoyable, a great engagement tool and effective – the program works and improves student outcomes. I found the staff at Canine Comprehension to be approachable, kind, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and committed to student wellbeing; whilst always maintaining professionalism and exercising a level of compassion. 

By integrating a therapeutic dog alongside a practitioner in an educational setting, students appeared more inclined to open up and connect with one another – fostering resilience and assisting with the overall learning process. 
The benefits of implementing Canine Comprehension at our College include assistance with students transitioning from primary into secondary, students developing better problem solving skills, increase in self-confidence, learning about mindfulness and how it can be integrated into everyday life to reduce anxiety or stress. 

In all my years working as a social worker, Canine Comprehension would have to be one of the most positive, engaging and effective programs I’ve been involved in. Staff at Canine Comprehension has always maintained professionalism whilst exercising a level of compassion when working with our students. I highly recommend Canine Comprehension to all schools and organisations working with vulnerable children and young people in the community. Keep up the great work Sarah, Oscar & Co!"

Laz Zaekis, Student Well being Leader - Lalor Secondary College

"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."

​Vicki - Melbourne.

"Some of the more anxious isolated students in particular have responded really well to the program."

Assistant Principal Primary School - Whittlesea

"Thanks so much Gemma and George for working with us each week.  You made us feel important and helped us to learn strategies to work through our problems.  We loved teaching George some tricks and he is so caring and gentle.  The CC program was the highlight of our week!"

Student - Whittlesea.

"Some of the more anxious isolated students in particular have responded really well to the program."

Assistant Principal Primary School - Whittlesea

‘That we learnt to calm ourselves down and that we get to see a dog’.

Student, Primary school

'The best thing about this program is giving me confidence and not always being anxious'

Student, Year 7 - Moreland

'The  program had a huge impact on my anxiety and has helped me overcome it.'

Student, Year 9 - Moreland

'I Love Charlie and Jo!! It was a really good program and it helped me with a lot of things, even with finding new friends."

Grade 5 Student - Whittlesea

‘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

‘Knowing others are feeling the way I do some-times’.

Student, Grade 6

What was the best thing about doing the program: 'Meeting others and feeling wanted.'

Student, Year 8 - Moreland

‘I learnt so many techniques and emotions, that I have actually experienced. It also helped me understand the importance of mindfulness’.

Student, Grade 6

‘Interacting with the dog. Colouring in. Learning about all the techniques to improve my confidence and all the mindfulness strategies, etc really helped me to improve my confidence’.

Student, Year 7

‘Knowing how to calm myself down (using mindfulness). Learning about things through Chachka’.

Student, Grade 5

‘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

"Most Significant Change I have observed particular students come out of their shell throughout the duration of the program, which was great to see. There has been greater connections made between students in both primary and secondary groups and I saw some of these new connections continue outside of the group"

Secondary School SWC - Yarra/Darebin

'Jim taught us how to deal/calm yourself down, I can deal with my emotions now’.

Student, Year 7

‘This program is really good with kids who get anxiety’.

Student, Year 7

‘I thought dog therapy was really useful to me as it taught me mindfulness, confidence etc’ .

Student, Year 7

‘The best thing was being able to have some mindfulness time’.

Student, Primary School

‘Learning how to connect/play with dogs and staying less anxious with dogs.’

Student, Grade 6

‘Feeling mindful’.

Student, Primary School

‘Being calm and doing work’.

Student, Grade 7