DOGS IN EDUCATION AND PAWS AND LEARN
Having previously taught in secondary schools for 20 years, I've been able to extend my love of teaching by educating a new generation of trainers, behaviourists and owners. I've also written Canine Behaviour & Welfare (diploma) and Animal Assisted Intervention course materials for an international animal course provider.
While writing these courses and delivering practical workshops in Animal Assisted Intervention, I came across the charity Dogs Helping Kids who worked with schools across the UK. DHK were the only organisation in the country training and assessing dogs purely to work in school and college environments as both educational and therapeutic support.
I'm fascinated by the emotional relationship between people and dogs, which is one of the things that drew me to DHK and Animal Assisted Intervention because of the impact that dogs can have on the lives of vulnerable people. As a species, we are at the beginning of developing an understanding of the emotional make-up of the dogs in our lives. Science is only just starting to understand the emotional capacities of the animals we live with. Dogs, particularly, are deeply affected by the chemicals that drive our physical, emotional and mental states and we are at the beginning of exciting developments helping us understand the full impact of how our moods and health can affect our dogs.
These relationships start very early on in our puppies' lives. How we raise them, train them and work with them as Dogs in Education can have such an impact on helping them have successful, happy working lives.
One of the things that I loved about DHK when I came across them was the support that they give their puppies and their families in their early weeks. I was delighted when I was asked by Tracey, the founder of DHK, to act as their Puppy Life Skills Coordinator, and then as their Behaviour Specialist to continue the early weeks work they are doing with their puppies.
Sadly, DHK ceased operating as a charity in 2021 as a result of Covid and their work with Dogs in Education ended. We felt strongly as a team that we wanted to continue with the amazing work that Tracey and the DHK team pioneered, and so our new company Paws And Learn was born.
PAWS AND LEARN
We work with a small number of schools across the UK to raise and train our PAL school dogs so that they become calm, well-mannered and supportive dogs in a school environment. Our dogs live with our PAL Partners as pet dogs, working in their school throughout the week and supporting the children in their school once they are fully trained. We have a team of PAL trainers with experience of working in Primary, Secondary and Further Education.
It takes 3 years to train a PAL dog to be a School Dog, which is the same amount of time it takes to train a Guide Dog and an Assistance Dog working with Dogs For Good. We take time training our dogs so that they reach the highest standards of behaviour and skill. They are important members of their school and are fully integrated into school life.
Most importantly, we train our partner schools, our Pal Partners and their families to truly understand the needs of their school dog and to prioritise their welfare. This is what makes our PAL School Dogs successful, because we use the same ethos as we do in all all our work with dogs: we teach families and schools to understand their dogs and to work cooperatively with them, setting the highest possible standards of welfare.
PAL school dogs are happy, confident and cherished dogs, from when we first help their owners choose their breeder, to the days we support their dogs into old age. Once a PAL School Dog, always a PAL School Dog!
If you would like further information about how to apply to become a PAL Partner and to begin the journey of training a PAL School Dog to join your school, please contact Claire at email@example.com.