Mabel – Our School Dog

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We are very excited to introduce you to a new member of our team, who we will be welcoming to our school over the coming weeks. Mabel was born on 28th November 2022 and is a 7 month old Fox Red Labrador who lives with Miss Hastings and is set to become an integral part of our school community. Below are answers to some common questions around the concept of school dogs.

What are the benefits of having a school dog?

Dogs have been working in UK schools for the past five years but have been commonplace in schools in the US and Australia for many years. Research studies have shown the benefits of dogs in schools which include:

  • Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing
  • Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others
  • Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts moods, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety
  • Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses
  • Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.

As you may be aware, there are already many ‘Pets as Therapy’ dogs working in schools. Reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dog’s presence has on children as well as the dog listening to children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence to read aloud.


Will Mabel be properly cared for?

Mabel will be extremely well looked after. She lives with Miss Hastings and, at first, will come into our school but will stay safely in a crate in the school office. Miss Hastings will introduce her to our environment and she will then work with some of our children but will always be accompanied by Miss Hastings. She will be kept clean and well-groomed at home and children will have to wash their hands and use antibacterial gel after contact. Should the dog defecate on school premises it will be cleaned up by Miss Hastings using animal waste bags and a disinfectant used to clean the area. Waste will then be carefully and suitably disposed of. She will be wormed and given flea treatment regularly.


How do we know Mabel is ready to work in school?

Mabel is just a puppy at the moment and it will take a long while for her to be completely ready for her new role. Whilst Mabel is in school, she will have access to a dog crate and this is where she will spend most of her time initially until she becomes used to our staff and our premises. Mabel will visit the vet regularly for all her injections as well as regular check-ups. If Mabel is unwell for any reason, she will stay at home.

The school is currently working with ‘The Dog Mentor’ – a specialist trainer who has already been into school to assess Mable’s suitability for the role and to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment. Mabel passed her initial assessment with flying colours!


My child is scared of dogs

Some children may have had upsetting experiences and have a fear of dogs (or another animal). Mabel will only be in contact with children whose parents have given their permission. Experience and research have shown that, with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to overcome their fear of animals and grow in respect and appreciation for them.


The school has a ‘no dogs’ policy

Our school has a ‘no dogs’ policy. Mabel will be under control when moving around the school property and will always be accompanied by Miss Hastings. Mabel will also be fully insured to carry out her role in our schools. We have completed a comprehensive risk assessment, having considered the processes and risks in having a dog in school.

Below are our key documents about Mabel –

Introduction letter to parents

The Dog Mentor Risk Register – Great Rollright CE Primary School 2023

Our School Dog Policy