How Paw Pals therapy dogs are helping students learn

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MacKillop Family Services supports at-risk children living in Melbourne’s west, and have recently expanded into Ballarat, to engage in education through its Specialist Schools and education outreach services with their Paw Pals therapy dogs program.

Helping vulnerable kids with education

Education is the cornerstone of life and is something that every child should have the opportunity to make the most of.

Unfortunately, many children and teenagers are not responding to, or are able to learn in a traditional school setting, so these specialist schools and Paw Pals therapy dogs program are suited to students with social and/or emotional behaviours that cannot be managed in a mainstream setting.

The curriculum is underpinned by a model that helps to ensure a safe learning environment is provided for children and young people impacted by trauma. By catering to a student’s learning and well-being needs they are able to develop a flexible, individualised program to prepare them academically and socially to return to mainstream education.

Paw Pals therapy dogs are changing lives

Helping them to achieve this is the Paw Pals therapy dogs program, which is a canine-assisted learning program introduced as a pilot program in 2018. The impact of Paw Pals on children who find it difficult to engage with learning has been remarkable, so since their introduction they have been fundraising to help expand this amazing program even further, to help more children in need get back into the classroom.

There’s a lot of research that shows therapy dogs can help people to stay relaxed in situations they can sometimes find confronting, so as part of the Paw Pals therapy dogs program, the dogs go into classes or stay by the side of students that find it difficult to interact with other students, whilst they also undertaken home visits to engage the kids in learning again.

It’s just another example of how amazing dogs are and how beneficial they are for our health. I am so glad we are able to share and celebrate some of the amazing work dogs are doing in the community through our TV show and this website.

More funding means more Paw Pals therapy dogs

The Paw Pals program is funded through charitable grants, pubic and corporate donations, including funding from Petstock Foundation.

You can make a tax deductible donation all year round to help support their work and the Paw Pals therapy dogs program, so to learn more about where this money goes, visit the MacKillop Family Services website.

To find out more about the Petstock Foundation, and how your purchases at Petstock can help contribute to their work, click here.

About the Author: Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, pet food nutrition specialist, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of World of Dogs and Eat, Play, Love Your Dog

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