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Therapy Dog - Dexter

We are very excited to introduce a new member of staff to the team at Hayes Primary - Dexter, our certified therapy dog!  Dexter is a nearly three year old maltipoo, and is Mrs Griffin’s family dog.

Dexter has undergone various assessments and checks to become a certified therapy dog, and we are very proud to say he passed with flying colours.

The benefits of a school dog

School dogs have been proven to help develop pupils’ reading skills, improve behaviour, attendance and academic confidence, as well as increasing student understanding of responsibility and in the development of empathy and nurturing skills. We are confident that Dexter will be a beneficial addition to the pastoral support we offer here at Hayes Primary.

Research into the effects of therapy dogs in schools shows a range of benefits including:

  • Teaching empathy and appropriate interpersonal skills;
  • Helping individuals develop social skills and increasing self-esteem;
  • Soothing and calming effect;
  • Improving a child’s ability to pick up on social cues which are imperative to human relationships;
  • Supporting emotional regulation through the positive impact on the autonomic nervous system
  • Increasing improved motivation for learning, resulting in improved outcomes;
  • Supporting children with their social and emotional learning needs, which can also aid literacy development.
  • Increasing school attendance;
  • Improving confidence;
  • Decreasing pupil anxiety resulting in improvements in learning, such as increasing reading and writing levels;
  • Enhancing relationships with peers and teachers due to experiencing trust and unconditional positive interactions with a therapy dog;
  • Helping children learn how to express their feelings and enter into more trusting relationships.
  • Teaching responsibility and respect to all life

Dexter will be located primarily in the SLT office, where his bed will be, away from the classrooms and initially will be in school one or two days a week.  He will be assessed daily before coming to school to ensure he is fit and well enough for the day ahead. If he is unwell, he will stay at home. Dexter will always be accompanied by one of 4 trained insured adults in school - Mrs Griffin, Miss Hughes, Mrs Adams and Mrs Field, and he will always be on a lead.  As part of the process of becoming a certified therapy dog, Dexter visits the vet regularly for general health check-ups and for regular and required vaccinations. As part of the process of introducing a therapy dog in school we have risk assessments in place and relevant insurance. We have also visited other schools who have therapy dogs to understand how it can work for Hayes Primary. 

It is understandable that some of you may be concerned about possible allergic reactions to Dexter. He is groomed every six weeks and has a thorough cleanliness regime at home. He is a hypo-allergenic breed and does not moult.  He will only be allowed in situations with pupils who voluntarily wish to work with him.

We are also empathetic that some children may have had upsetting experiences and thus have a fear of dogs (or other animals). Mrs Griffin herself had a fear of dogs for over 35 years. Again, to reassure you - he will only be in contact with children that want to work with him. He has completed training that shows he is able to remain calm and be gentle around children, and is suitable to work in the school. Experience and research has shown that with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to overcome their fear of animals and grow in respect and appreciation for them.

All families will be asked to notify the school of any allergies or fears.

Please note that our certified therapy dog is the only dog allowed on the school site. We politely ask that you ensure that you do not enter the site at any time with a dog.  

All risk assessments, policies, procedures and insurance is in place.

We hope you will join us in welcoming Dexter to Hayes Primary School, and embrace all that he has to offer the school.