The School Dogs

Meet our Dogs

The DHK School Dogs are highly trained dogs who are of impeccable temperament, have undergone in-depth positive reinforcement training and who then have been rigorously assessed to clarify that they are competent and safe to work in the school or college environment. Training for each DHK School Dog Team takes 3 years and each team has to pass 8 increasingly difficult assessments. A dog and owner are eligible to join the DHK School Dog Programme once they have undertaken the one year DHK Puppy Training Programme, and passed the DHK Entry Test and the Welfare and Environment Assessment. Once Certified, each DHK School Dog Team is annually assessed in their working environment until retirement. All D.H.K. School Dogs will be provided with a school coat, harness, lead, collar and identification, to prove that they are Certified DHK School Dogs.

The DHK School Dogs are divided into four different groups – Educational Assistance Dogs, One-One Support Dogs, Personal Support Dogs and PR Dogs.

Educational Assistance Dogs (previously known as Attending School Dogs)

These DHK School Dogs work with their owner at one school or college only, and as such are not insured or trained to work at any other educational establishment. Their owner will be a member of the school/college staff, and they will have no teaching requirements at all. Each School Dog will be an integral part of their school or college and will be highly valued by everyone, especially the children. 95% of our DHK School Dogs are Educational Assistance Dogs and each one has been trained for 3 years and passed 8 increasingly difficult assessments to become Certified.

Support School Dogs

These DHK School Dogs work with and 'support' teenagers through difficult times in their lives, those with mental health issues, those at risk, and those with social deprivation. These dogs will be trained to support teenagers (and occasionally younger children), teach them the new skill of kind, positive dog training and be there as a best friend. The DHK Support School Dogs will have been carefully selected for their incredibly calm, gentle, very quiet behaviour, and as such, are completely suited to working with these vulnerable young people on a one-one basis. Please note - only 5% of our DHK School Dogs are Support School Dogs. All our Certified Support Dogs are currently fully committed to the young people they are currently working with and as such are unable to take on any more work at this present time.

To read about DHK Support School Dog Vader and his work with Harry who has autism please click here.

Personal Support School Dogs

These DHK Dogs will be owned and trained by the teenager and his/her family and be similar to Assistance Dogs. Liam and his DHK Support School Dog, Charlie, were our first officially trained DHK Personal Support School Dog Team. This is in its early stages of development and as such we are in the process of training our second Personal Support School Dog. In the future we hope to work with and support more teenagers with the help of a carefully selected puppy that will be trained and assessed over a three year period.

To learn more about Liam and Charlie please click here

P.R. Dogs

Our PR Dogs travel round the country representing the charity at media events and photo shoots, and are also happy to provide interviews for National TV and Radio when required.These dogs are really important School Dogs and they will also be able to demonstrate clicker training in action in very busy environments, happy to visit different educational establishments, and will be trained to meet and greet members of the public after educational talks and workshops.



Visiting School Dogs - phased out completely in 2016

These dogs and their owners ‘visited’ the same school or college each week. These Visiting School Dogs were owned by DHK volunteers and they worked with children either on a one-one basis or in small groups. We no longer train Visiting School Dogs and started to phase these dogs out in 2016, as we decided that the Educational Assistance Dogs was the right path for our charity to take. We no longer have any working Visiting School Dog in Dogs Helping Kids.



Roles of the School Dogs

The roles of the D.H.K. School Dogs in the educational environment are many. Once Certified each School Dog will have been trained and assessed to be able to provide all of these specially designed roles. However, some of our School Dogs will offer all of these roles; some of them will completely specialise in one role only.

These roles consist of the following:-

Classroom Canines

These dogs will be happy to simply ‘chill out’ in the classroom whilst the children are having their lesson (s). Their very presence will have a calming effect on the children. Research studies in both Britain and America have concluded that having a dog in a school classroom can have many positive benefits – these include help to calm children down, improve academic achievement, motivate those children who are often not that attentive, teach responsibility and encourage children to respect all life. Furthermore it has been shown that when classmates share the affection and care of a ‘class’ dog, a bond forms among the classmates and strengthens their team ethics.

Listening Canines

These dogs will be incredibly calm and happy to have an individual child read to them. Dogs give unconditional acceptance, as they are non-judgmental, which is especially crucial to struggling, emerging readers. The listening canines also provide confidence to children as they do not make fun of them when they read, but above all they make amazing listeners, providing the children with a sense of comfort and love. In America, the ‘Read’ Dogs, as they are known, have proved through research that children who read to these dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and write, and an increase in intra and interpersonal skills among the children they mix with. 
bark and read
Reading with our School Dogs is supported by the Kennel Club's
Bark and Read Foundation.

Reward Canines

These dogs will be gentle and loving, but at the same time full of fun and enjoyment for the children. Those children who have performed incredibly well during the week or those who have made progress in a certain subject, or those who have achieved tasks set for them, will be rewarded with spending time during lunch or break to interact with these dogs. Walking, grooming, playing and training are some of the responsibilities the children will be allowed to undertake with the reward dogs. It has been proved that working and playing with a dog improves children’s social skills and self esteem.

Therapy Canines

These dogs will work with children on a one-one basis and will especially help those children who have been bullied, abused, suffering with emotional issues, going through upsetting/difficult times or even scared/phobic of dogs. These dogs will bring much joy and help to all the children they meet. Children who struggle with social interaction can find a reassuring friend in a DHK School Dog.

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©DHK Dogs Helping Kids, Registered Charity

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