Press articles

Headteacher Update - Summer 2019
Dogs in schools: Getting it right

There has been recent media attention praising the impact of bringing dogs into schools, but this must be done in the right way to avoid putting both the dogs and the children at risk. Headteacher Nik Gardner urges schools considering this approach to take on board the proper guidance.

There have been recent articles in the media about dogs working in schools as put forward by the education secretary Damian Hinds and Sir Anthony Seldon (BBC, March 2019). This has raised the profile of dogs attending schools and has rightly highlighted that there are many benefits to having a dog as part of the school team.

I am headteacher at Winford CE Primary School in north Somerset, a single form entry primary school located in a semi-rural area just outside Bristol - and we have a school dog.


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Sunday Express S Magazine
Animal Magic

When Heather Parks' home became a battle zone because of her son's disruptive behaviour a four-legged friend restored the peace.
Heather, 44, lives in Okehampton, Devon, with her husband Phillip and their four children. She works for a community interest company that provides family support and counselling. She says:
“It all started in May 2011 when my eldest son turned 10. He didn't want to celebrate. He didn't even want to go out. In fact, it was getting increasingly hard to get him to go anywhere.
'Have you heard of Asperger's?' the psychiatrist asked, when we finally got an appointment. I'd never heard of it. 'It's a form of autism,' she told us, convinced it was the underlying issue. It turned out to be true.


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The Journal
Educational Charity Founder earns Points of Light award for dog work

The Prime Minister recognised Tracey Berridge, from Barnstaple, on Friday, for founding the charity Dogs Helping Kids.

The charity uses professionally trained dogs to help children with their personal development, learning and wellbeing.

Tracey, a professional dog trainer, was inspired to found the organisation in 2002 following her post-graduate research into the benefits of introducing dogs into school environments.


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Blue Cross Magazine - For Pets Spring 2019
A ray of sunshine for struggling teens

He was once a terrified, homeless puppy, but now Vader is helping to rebuild the lives of youngsters locked out of mainstream education due to learning disabilities and mental health issues.

An unwanted puppy rehomed by Blue Cross is helping to turn around the fortunes of troubled youngsters through his remarkable work as a School Support Dog.


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North Devon Journal
Vader’s Tail: Incredibly busy time of workshops and photo shoots

It's been an incredibly busy few months for Vader; from helping out on two busy Dog Helping Kids (DHK) school dog workshops to working with and helping teenagers such as Harry - all in the life of a DHK certified school dog.

There have been two DHK school dog workshops which were really busy with delegates coming from Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Bath and Kent.


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Dogs Today June 2018
One By One

Nestled in the hills above Barnstaple, north Devon, is the headquarters for Dogs Helping Kids. The charity came into being as a small voluntary educational organisation in 2002, and Princess Laya, a rescue Lurcher, was an integral part of its inception. A certified visiting and educational school dog, she worked alongside the organisation's founder, Tracey Berridge, and together...


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Pet Focus Summer 2017
Saving the next generation

Dogs Helping Kids is transforming the lives of children in the UK, not only improving literacy and academic achievement, but also promoting respect and non-violence, educating the next generation of responsible pet owners and providing troubled young people with a reason to feel positive and confident.
Specially trained dogs work in schools, colleges and libraries across the country as educational and therapeutic aids ...


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Optima Magazine No: 618
Paw-trait of an Education

A higher level Teaching Assistant from York was in the news recently, after winning a two year battle to convince her school's Headteacher and Governors to allow her to bring a canine colleague into school. Lisa Botwright investigates the rise in school dogs, and asks if they're an adorable distraction, or an educational asset?


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The Times
The rescue dog who helps kids to read

Willow, who was rescued as a puppy, is now one of an elite group of dogs working in schools.

As a glossy collie-boxer cross with a very waggy tail, Willow often wins attention from passing canine lovers. In the small north Devon town where she lives, however, she is frequently stopped by parents and children for a different reason — they credit her as the dog who has changed their lives. In a recent piece of fan mail to Willow, one set of parents wrote that their son, Ben, who had been so cripplingly terrified of dogs that a family walk was impossible, was now no longer afraid of them thanks to the six-year-old rescue dog's weekly visits to his primary school.


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Conker House Publishing Consultancy blog
Increasing Young Reader Confidence…With the Help of a Dog!

This week, we welcome Deborah Neame as our guest blogger. Deborah, along with her dog, Pip, are a Dogs Helping Kids Certified Visiting School Dog Team. Here at Conker House Publishing Consultancy we welcome any method that encourages interaction with books and this is a particularly heartwarming and effective approach. Over to Deborah:

Have you ever thought about reading to your pet? To be more precise - your dog? I take my dog into school to help children who perhaps need an extra boost into the magic and wonder of reading.

My dog, Pip, is part of an amazing organisation called Dogs Helping Kids (DHK). Their primary aim is to educate, help and support children and teenagers of all ages, backgrounds, gender and abilities. This is achieved by training carefully selected dogs to an incredibly high standard to work in the school, college and library environment as both educational and therapeutic aids.


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Your Dogs - August 2015 -
MOB rules!

Andrea McHugh meets a remarkable teenager who is determined to change the face of modern dog training.
There is nothing more devastating for a parent than seeing their child suffer. But for mum Rachael Landymore the situation was absolutely desperate, when in September 2012 her teenage son Liam became so depressed that he no longer wanted to leave the house or even be alive.
Thankfully, fast-forward three years and it's hard to recognise the confident and happy young man that Liam has grown into. Nowadays the 16-year-old's life is filled with purpose and he can't wait for each day to start. And the reason for this dramatic transformation? Quite simply, it is entirely down to a rather special three-year-old cross-breed called Charlie.


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Dogs Monthly - April 2014
Let me tell you a story

Sitting on a cushion in the corner of his local library,10-year-old Finn Swanson reads out loud to his companion - a fluffy Shih Tzu X Poodle called Dexter.
It's a sight that might make you do a double take, but one that's becoming increasingly common in schools and libraries up and down the UK.


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Exmoor Magazine - Winter 2013
Taff the wonder dog and Dogs Helping Kids

Meet Taff, a gorgeous two-year-old Cavapoo (Cavalier Spaniel cross Poodle) and a star in the making. Taff is training to become a fully-fledged 'Wonder Dog'. In his last test he got 86% (surely an 'A'?) and by Christmas he will be just over six months off graduation.

Taff is one of a growing number of dogs signed up by their owners with Dogs Helping Kids (DHK), a remarkable and unusual charity.


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Family rapp
Reading to his four legged friends transformed life of boy with dyslexia

Finn Swanson, aged nine from Swimbridge, North Devon has had his life transformed after he began reading to dogs at Barnstaple Library, as part of the Dogs Helping Kids scheme which is supported by the Kennel Club's Bark and Read Foundation.

Diagnosed with having dyslexic traits last year, Finn was a reluctant reader, which was impacting on his confidence and progress at Swimbridge Primary School.


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Dogs Today - June 2013
A New Breed Of Reader

The field of animal assisted therapy is no longer the niche, specialist subject it once was. Now, animals are being used increasingly in prisons, young-offender institutions, care homes, hospitals, and mental-health clinics, and the research about the benefits of dog contact is beyond dispute.
One pioneer in the UK is Tracey Berridge, founder of the charity Dogs Helping Kids.
Tracey originally thought of the concept of Dogs Helping Kids in the early 1990s after being moved by a film called Skeezer - the true story of one of America's first 'canine co-therapists', who helped emotionally and disturbed children at a children's psychiatric Hospital in Michigan.


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The Kennel Club Website
Reading to dogs transformed life of boy with Dyslexia

Finn Swanson, aged nine from Swimbridge, North Devon has had his life transformed after he began reading to dogs at Barnstaple Library, as part of the Dogs Helping Kids scheme which is supported by the Kennel Club's Bark and Read Foundation.

Diagnosed with having dyslexic traits last year, Finn was a reluctant reader, which was impacting on his confidence and progress at Swimbridge Primary School. All this changed when Finn started reading to Dexter, a Shih Tzu/Poodle cross and Kym, a Cavalier King Charles/Poodle cross through Dogs Helping Kids, one of four charities which the Kennel Club's Bark and Read Foundation supports.


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Woman's World - Annual of the National Federation of Women's Institutes
Four paws in the classroom

"Willow's got a job!" my excited daughter Jacqui phoned to tell me. Willow is her 18-month old collie-boxer crossbred dog who she acquired as a puppy from a rescue charity. Willow's job - unpaid - is as a School Dog with 'Dogs Helping Kids', a North Devon charity which trains dogs to work in schools. It has been set up by Tracey Berridge, a professional dog trainer for over 20 years. So far 15 dogs, including Willow, have been trained and passed her rigorous assessment.


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Visiting Dog Helps Children To Read

We've just had an unusual guest in the Readathon office: one with four legs and a wet nose!

Pippa the dog and her owner Deborah Neame, from the charity Dogs Helping Kids, came to demonstrate how reading to dogs can improve children's literacy skills. It is especially helpful to reluctant readers and to young readers who lack confidence and and enthusiasm, but all children of all ages may benefit.


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Neil Parish MP
Neil Parish MP talks about DHK in the Christmas adjournment debate

Speaking in the Christmas adjournment debate, Neil Parish highlights areas of local concern and calls for more involvement of local communities and farmers in the management of our rivers and waterways, the introduction of a vaccine to combat the Schmallenberg virus and he highlights the great work of local charity Dogs Helping Kids.

I want to raise a very interesting issue about dogs going into schools. I recently visited a charity called Dogs Helping Kids. It is run by a lady called Tracey Berridge, who trains the dogs for up to 18 months or even two years so that they can go into schools.


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Torbridge Vets back 'Dogs Helping Kids' charity

Torbridge Vets is sponsoring a charity dedicated to using highly-trained dogs to help teach children non-violence, empathy, respect, kindness, love, responsibility, friendship and trust.

Torbridge Vets which has practices in Bideford, Torrington, South Molton and Lynton, will donated a £1 for every canine vaccination to the charity from January.


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NOAH event held to celebrate children and their pets

On Tuesday (20th November), guests and charities from throughout the UK came together to share experiences of how animals are helping children with their physical, educational and psychological needs.

Organisations promoting their charity work included Dogs Helping Kids, Wood Green Animal Shelter, Dogs for the Disabled, The Animal Education Alliance, and National Pet month.


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NOAH: Benefits of pets to children celebrated at House of Commons

How pets bring support and joy to the lives of children was celebrated at the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)'s Pet Event on 20 November, at the House of Commons.

Hosted by Neil Parish MP, chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW), the event provided an opportunity for charities and individuals to tell their own stories about how animals help children and young people with their physical, educational or psychological needs - and bring so much joy. Guests had an opportunity to meet some animals and their handlers and trainers in order to gain an insight into their work.

“We have dogs that alert children to medical conditions, dogs that help children with special educational needs, or with conditions such as autism. We have dogs that help children to read - and some can even read themselves!


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Dog Books Online
The Charity Training Canines as Classroom Assistants

I never cease to be amazed at the truly amazing roles that dogs can perform; detecting cancer, finding explosives and giving an individual the gift of independence are just a few well-known tasks they carry out. But what about teaching children to read, preventing truancy, and increasing academic achievement in schools across the country? This is just the beginning of what the 'school dogs', trained by North Devon charity, Dogs Helping Kids (DHK), have to offer.

Dogs Helping Kids is a relatively new charity that effectively uses dogs as classroom teaching assistants. These highly trained dogs work as educational and therapeutic aids, performing a variety of roles from listening to children read, motivating good behaviour, to simply being a calming presence in the classroom. The beneficial effects to date, have been phenomenal, improving academic achievement, building confidence and self-esteem, preventing truancy and increasing motivation.


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Compare Pet Care
Dogs Helping School Children in Devon

It's heaven in Devon for schoolchildren with a lovely tale to tell.

Eight-year-olds at a primary school in that delightfully creamy county are finding their reading and writing capabilities improving considerably under the watchful eye of a new classroom assistant by the name of Wynona. Yet she never speaks a word to them. For Wynona, you see, is a dog - an Alaskan malamute to be precise. But her mere presence has had a remarkably calming effect on the children, who, it seems, find their four-legged friend a tail-wagging therapeutic inspiration.


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The Sunday Telegraph - Life suplement
Dogs in the classroom: reading with a fluffy friend

Children love their new teaching assistants, says Clover Stroud, as classroom canines make reading a great adventure.

At a primary school in Devon, a class of eight year-olds is finishing a literacy exercise. It's a scene familiar to hundreds of classrooms, except that lying quietly in one corner is Wynona, an Alaskan malamute.

Wynona was trained by Tracey Berridge, a canine behaviourist trainer, who set up Dogs Helping Kids in 2003 to take dogs into classrooms, both as therapeutic aids for teaching children about kindness and empathy, and also for providing reading support.


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Your Dogs - 2012 -
Dogs and children do mix!

One organisation is working to show the positive impact dogs can have on youngsters. Rachael Buzzel fi nds out more.
You've heard of the old adage “Never work with children and animals”? Well, that's never occurred to Tracey Berridge, founder of North Devon-based organisation Dogs Helping Kids.
“Dogs have such an amazing impact on children and really enhance their lives,” she said. “In the past, many people have said dogs and children wouldn't work, but I'm proving them wrong — dogs can improve children's education so much,and really improve their behaviour.


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Your Dogs - 2008 -
Building Bridges

The impact dogs have on children with behavioural issues can be profound, as Emma Hawkins discovered at an educational dog training facility for teenagers.
Teaching youngsters about dog training could help them become better citizens. At least that is what the organization Dogs Helping Kids, based in North Devon, believes.


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