Nala is our school dog. She came to work with us as a puppy in the autumn term of 2023 and is still in training (weekly formal training sessions, as well as care and support in school). When she isn’t in school Nala lives with Dr Foster who is her legal owner and is responsible for her.
Nala is a cross between a Shih Tzu/Pomeranian and a Shih Tzu/Bichon Frise. All three breeds have excellent qualities for a school dog. Nala shows all the expected characteristics of her type: she’s lively, gentle, inquisitive and playful, very open and adaptable, and welcoming of people she doesn’t know. She’s also small, cute, soft and fluffy, but with a coat which doesn’t shed and is hypoallergenic (it’s very rare for anyone to be allergic to any of these breeds).
Although Nala is as safe as a dog can be, we never take it for granted that there won’t be any problems. Before Nala arrived we carried out an extensive risk assessment, including gathering information from other schools which already have school dogs or regular visiting dogs on site. We have a new policy document which sets down exactly how we manage both Nala and any other animals which may from time to time come onto the school site for educational purposes. You can read our policy by following the link below.
If reading the policy doesn’t answer all your questions, please get in touch.
How Nala works in school
Nala’s first role in the school is to promote well-being. Research has shown that there are many benefits from having a suitable dog in school on a regular basis. School dogs improve pupil behaviour and attendance as well as increasing their understanding of caring for and taking responsibility for an animal and enhancing their empathy and nurturing skills. Animal assisted interventions can:
- Teach empathy and appropriate interpersonal skills
- Help individuals develop social skills
- Be soothing and decrease anxiety
- Improve a child’s ability to pick up on social cues
- Support emotional regulation
- Improve motivation for learning
- Improve confidence and self-esteem
- Teach responsibility and respect for all life
As well as improving pupil’s overall well-being, Nala will also work as a reading dog. Reading programmes with dogs are known to boost achievement, particularly for pupils who find reading a struggle and are reluctant to read out loud. Research has proved that pupils who read to dogs show an increase in reading levels and word recognition, and a higher desire to read and write. Dogs make wonderful listeners and never judge or correct, so they encourage pupils to practise reading aloud.
Frequently asked questions
You can find the answers to most of your questions by reading our animals in school policy (see the link above), but here are brief answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you need to know more or would like to raise any concerns, please do get in touch.
Q: Have issues of hygiene been considered?
Q: How is the dog’s welfare ensured?
Q: What happens about allergies?
Q: My child is frightened of dogs. How will you manage this?
This page was last updated on 6th February 2024