Unleashing the Benefits: Wellbeing Dogs in Schools Transforming Education

Tuesday, 25 June 2024

The integration of dogs into classrooms has proven to be a transformative experience at Bishop Druitt College offering a myriad of benefits that extend beyond the conventional boundaries of education, as evidenced by numerous studies and our own experiences with our wellbeing dog named Barkley.

Creating a Positive Learning Environment

One of the primary advantages of having a dog in the classroom is the creation of a positive and conducive learning environment. Students exposed to canine companions exhibit improved academic performance, better social skills, and heightened self-esteem. The presence of a therapy dog has been associated with enhanced student engagement and behaviour, fostering a sense of camaraderie and trust among classmates.

Addressing Concerns and Ensuring Safety

To address concerns about potential hazards or allergies, it is crucial for schools to establish clear procedures and guidelines. Dogs Connect plays a vital role in providing information, training, and integration support to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all students, including those with allergies or fear. The BDC Wellbeing Dog, Barkley, is an Australian Cobberdog and as a result has an ideal amount of energy to serve as a Wellbeing Dog. He is also very intelligent and hypoallergenic.

Enhanced Social Interaction

The introduction of dogs into classrooms significantly increases social interaction among students. Dogs serve as emotional outlets, allowing children to express themselves more openly and improve their ability to self-regulate emotions. The resulting increase in empathy towards animals and peers can contribute to a more compassionate and inclusive school culture.

Advantages of Caring for Dogs

The responsibility of caring for a dog in the classroom offers unique benefits, including improved self-esteem, emotional regulation, and acknowledgment of individual abilities. Despite initial concerns, the advantages of forming an emotional bond between students and their canine companions far outweigh potential disruptions.

Improved Attention and Focus

Studies consistently demonstrate that the presence of dogs in the classroom positively impacts students' focus, attention, and overall engagement. Reduced disruptive behaviours, increased task engagement, and heightened motivation levels contribute to a more effective learning experience.

Creating a Calming Environment

Dogs can play a pivotal role in creating a calming and relaxing atmosphere within the classroom or in wellbeing hubs. Despite potential drawbacks, the emotional support provided by dogs helps reduce stress and anxiety levels among students. The unconditional acceptance offered by dogs fosters positive social interactions, teaching respect towards animals and encouraging emotional maturity.

As schools increasingly recognise the multifaceted benefits of integrating wellbeing dogs into the educational experience, we may witness a paradigm shift where animal-assisted interventions become standard elements in schools worldwide. The time has come to embrace the potential of dogs as catalysts for positive change within the educational system, promoting not just academic excellence but also the holistic development of students.

Nick Johnstone
Bishop Druitt College


Gove, C., Henderson, L., Lee, F., and Wardlaw, P. (2021). Therapy Dogs in Educational Settings: Guidelines and Recommendations for Implementation. Frontiers in Vet Science. Volume 8 - 2021 | Accessed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8217446/ on 19 January 2023.

Kropp, J. and Shupp, M.M (2017). Review of the Research: Are Therapy Dogs in Classrooms Beneficial? Accessed online - https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1173578.pdf on 19 January 2023.