Frequently Asked Questions

What is a DHK School Dog?

This is a dog (and its owner) who has completed the 1 year DHK Puppy Training Programme and the 2 year DHK School Dog Training Programme and passed 8 increasingly difficult assessments with the charity during this time to officially certify as a DHK School Dog. Once certified, each DHK School Dog must undergo an annual assessment in their place of work, until its retirement. A dog is approximately 3 years old when it officially certifies with the charity. Our DHK School Dogs are trained as both educational and therapeutic aids.

Why do you train and assess your dogs to work with children and teenagers to such a high standard?

This is for the safety and welfare of both dog and child/teenager. It would be very dangerous for a dog to work with either children or teenagers in a busy, ever changing educational environment, if the dog has not been trained, assessed and certified to do the work it is there to undertake. Just because a dog is a good, friendly, ‘all round’ dog, does not make it right for that dog to work in an educational establishment without having undergone extensive training first. For a puppy or a dog who has not been trained and assessed to work in such an environment, it would be a very unfair and stressful thing for a dog to do. The welfare of each of our DHK School Dogs is of paramount importance to our charity and we will never compromise on this.

What educational establishments do your DHK School Dogs work in?

Schools and Colleges across the country. We work in special schools, behavioural schools, private schools and mainstream schools.

Are you based just in North Devon where your HQ is, or are there DHK School Dogs in other parts of the country?

We have DHK School Dogs across the country – the furthest one is in York going right down to Cornwall, and we have also branched into Wales. At this current time we have no DHK School Dogs in training or working in Scotland.

How does a dog join the 2 year DHK School Dog Training Programme?

The potential owner must first attend a 2 Day School Dog Workshop with the charity on ‘Preparing for and Learning about School Dogs’, before they take on their puppy. During this intensive 2 day workshop we advise on breeds, breeders and everything else in-between! We have known each DHK School Dog from an 8 week old puppy and this is something we are very strict on. The 8 week old puppy must then join the 1 year DHK Puppy Training Programme which provides a very high level of dog training during the first year of the dog’s life, and then dog and owner must pass the DHK Entry Test (Assessment 1) and the Welfare and Environment Assessment (Assessment 2) to be eligible to then join the 2 year DHK School Dog Training Programme.

When and where do you run your Two Day School Dog Workshops for Educational Staff?

These are run throughout the year at the DHK HQ in North Devon. We run a minimum of 3 workshops each year and they are run on a first come first served basis – each workshop is normally booked up months before. Please email the charity direct if you would like further information on how to book onto one of our educational workshops.

Who is eligible to attend your Two Day School Dog Workshop?

You must work in an educational setting and not have any teaching commitments.You must also not have selected a puppy to work in the educational arena – all puppies who are trained through DHK must be taken on after attending the workshop and under the direction of the charity. Workshop places are highly sought after and there can often be a long wait to attend one of our workshops.

If I attend a 2 Day School Dog Workshop, does that automatically mean my dog can join the DHK School Dog Training Programme?

Sadly no it does not, as not all dogs make it to the end of the training programme. Your puppy has to first pass the 1 year Puppy Training Programme to be eligible to join the 2 year School Dog Training Programme.

How many dogs and at what age do you take dogs into your School Dog Training Programme each year?

Between 5 and 10 puppies every year join the ‘Puppies in Training Programme’.To be eligible to join the DHK School Dog Training Programme you must take your puppy on AFTER you have attended the charity’s School Dog Workshop so we can be with your dog every step of the way from 8 weeks old. If you already have your puppy then you would not be eligible to join the charity. The School Dog Training Programme places are highly sought after, and we can never guarantee you a place on our training programme.

Why do you take so few dogs into your programme?

We are a very, very small, self funding charity and receive no Government support or funding. As such we only have very limited funds and no paid full time staff. If you would like to donate to, or fund raise for our charity, we would love to hear from you!

I already have my puppy and would like to do your School Dog Training Programme but I have not been on one of your School Dog Workshops - can I still join with my puppy?

Unfortunately no, you will not be able to. It is really important that we meet you personally first on a DHK School Dog Workshop before you take on your puppy. During this workshop we will discuss everything about our charity and how we feel the puppy should be introduced into the school/college environment. From the very first day the puppy goes into a school/college, their welfare must be of paramount importance. We want to be with you every step of the way from when you first take on your puppy, so we know the puppy has not had any bad experiences, or been overwhelmed to much in the school/college environment, or stroked incorrectly by another member of staff or child - which sadly is very easy to do. Our DHK School Dogs are so incredibly important to Dogs Helping Kids, and we want to make sure that we do the best for them that we possibly can, and as such their happiness and well being are our top priority.

Can one of your DHK School Dogs come to our school and work with our children or I would like one of your DHK School Dogs to help our children with reading at our school?

Unfortunately this is not how our charity operates. All DHK School Dogs are based purely in the school or college where they work. We are unable to provide DHK School Dogs 'ad hoc' to help with reading or visit/work with a group of children, as our DHK School Dogs are only eligible and insured to work at their allocated place of work, where they have been during the whole training programme.

If my dog passes the DHK Puppy Programme (2 Assessments) and joins the DHK School Dog Programme does that automatically mean my dog will eventually become a Certified DHK School Dog?

Sadly no it does not, as not all dogs make it to the end of the programme. If a dog and their owner fails an assessment, then sadly they will no longer be able to continue on the training programme with the charity. Approximately 90% of the dogs who join the DHK School Dog Training Programme become Certified DHK School Dogs.

Where does the training for a DHK School Dog take place?

At the DHK HQ in North Devon.

Where do the DHK assessments takes place?

The One Year Puppy Training Programme - the DHK Entry Test takes place in North Devon and the Welfare and Environment Assessment takes place in your school or college.

The Two Year School Dog Training Programme - the first 4 Training Assessments take place in North Devon and the last two Assessments take place in your school or college.

What dog training methods do you advocate and use with your DHK School Dogs

We only use kind, hands off, positive reinforcement dog training methods, also known as ‘force free’ dog training. We are also clicker trainers and as such all of our DHK School Dogs are clicker trained from a young age. If you have trained your puppy or dog using old fashioned compulsive dog training methods, or if you believe in the pack leader/dominance theory, then you will not be eligible to join the DHK School Dog Training Programme.

What dog trainers would you recommend across the country?

We only recommend dog trainers who are DHK Approved Dog Trainers, and who have also been officially assessed by and are members of a professional dog training body. We recommend the following dog training organisations to source a really positive and kind dog trainer – The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (A.P.D.T.), Gwen Bailey’s Puppy School, Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training (VSPDT), or The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (I.M.D.T.).

What training equipment do you advocate?

All of our DHK School Dogs have worn harnesses from puppyhood. We do not believe in the use of choke (check) chains, slip leads, half checks, haltis (or any other similar equipment such as the canny collar) and prong collars.

How much does it cost to undertake the School Dog Training Programme and remain with the charity once a dog is officially certified as a DHK School Dog?

This is discussed during our School Dog Workshop as we run an accredited membership scheme and an in training membership scheme. We do request a minimum donation each year to be made to the charity, and also request that each school/college undertakes fund raising events annually for our charity.

Please can you recommend how I train my dog to work in my school/college, as s/he is too old to join your charity?

Unfortunately we are unable to do this.

Please can I buy one of your Certified DHK School Dogs

Our DHK School dogs are not for sale, nor do we feel that this is the right way to have a dog working in your school or college. Each of our DHK School Dogs are privately owned by an individual who has undertaken all the training with the charity. A dog is not a computer or a table, but a living, breathing, sentient being full of emotion and feelings, and as such cannot be bought ‘ready to go’ for this purpose. If you are thinking of doing this, then you do not have the welfare of the dog as a high priority and we would highly recommend that you do not have a dog working in your school or college.

Please can I watch a session with a DHK School Dog?

Unfortunately only DHK staff are allowed to observe a DHK session. This is due to safeguarding issues, and also the fact that each session is a very private, personal session and having an unknown person in the session would have an impact on the outcome. If you want to meet one of our DHK School Dogs and their owner, we would highly recommend you attend one of our workshops.

Please can I speak to a DHK School Dog owner?

Unfortunately no – the owners are not able to provide advice or recommendations on School Dogs as this is provided by the charity. If you want to know more about our DHK School Dogs please attend one of our workshops.

I have sent the charity an email, how long will it take to hear back?

Due to the fact that everyone who works for the charity is a volunteer and help DHK in their spare time, we cannot put a time frame on when you will here back from us. It will normally take between 3 and 7 days. We are inundated with emails everyday, so please be patient if it takes a little longer. Please do not contact other DHK School Dog owners or volunteers directly by email or phone, as they will re-direct you back to us - they are not there to answer charity questions, and it is an invasion of their privacy. We look forward to hearing from you and answering your question.

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©DHK Dogs Helping Kids, Registered Charity

Callanish, Eastacombe, Tawstock, Barnstaple,
North Devon, EX31 3NX