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Assistance dogs at schools

Helping Paws train dogs for clients of all ages, and therefore also for school-age children. And it is they who solve the question of whether the dog will be able to go to school with them.

Arguments against

Hygienic reasons, allergies to dog fur or children's fear of dogs speak against the presence of a dog at school. There are also fears that the dog will interfere with teaching, run around school, or even tempt someone.

As far as hygiene is concerned, no legislation addresses the issue of the assistance dog in the school facility. However, these dogs have legally guaranteed access to grocery stores, and with the new law even to medical facilities, where much stricter hygiene regulations apply than at school. The dogs are under constant veterinary control and have all mandatory vaccinations, so there is no reason to exclude them from school for hygienic reasons.

Allergies to dog fur can be a more serious problem, especially for severe allergy sufferers. However, this can often be addressed, for example, allergy sufferers can be transferred to another class in agreement with pupils, parents and school management.

The fear of dogs is in the vast majority of cases acquired, either by bad experience or education. However, if the parents of children who are afraid of dogs are interested in solving this problem, the assistance dog can be an excellent mediator. Care must be taken in this matter and it is good to consult a child psychologist.

The dog does not interfere with teaching. At class, he lies next to or under the bench and rests. Children very quickly get used to the fact that he is a "good classmate". Staying with a dog is a good school for life for everyone.

The dog does not run freely after school, he stays with his master and is usually on a leash. During the break, classmates can help with taking him to a place designated by the school management.

There is no known case of such a dog biting someone during the whole time that Helping Paws train assistance dogs. Retrievers who help our clients have a very friendly nature and are happy in the presence of people. In addition, mentally balanced dogs are selected for training, who are brought up for the work of assistance dogs. We exclude dogs that show signs of aggression from training. Dogs for children's clients are often brought up in the presence of children and are therefore used to them.

Arguments for

For the cooperation of the assistance dog with the client, it is important that the dog correctly recognizes who his master is. This also applies to children - they must learn to give commands to the dog, reward him and praise him. It is therefore essential that the child spends maximum time with the dog. If his four-legged assistant is separated for several hours a week, he may have a natural tendency to consider adult family members as his master. This is an argument that clearly speaks for the stay of the dog with the child in school.

How are dogs prepared for a stay at school?

Each team (client and his dog) must pass a building access test before handing over the dog, which examines the ability to move safely in a demanding environment in which the dog and his master meet a large number of people. Other tests are the test of assistance skills, focused on the quality of assistance work of the dog, and the test of obedience and control, in which the client must prove that the dog listens and respects him.

Already during the training of the dog for a child attending school, the possibility that the dog will accompany the client to school is taken into account. We select dogs that have the best preconditions for staying with children, and the trainers take them into children's teams and correct their upbringing so that they are prepared for this specific environment.

How does an assistance dog behave at school?

Above all, the dog at school must be healthy and clean. Therefore, during the moulting period, we recommend clients more frequent brushing. During the lesson, the dog lies next to the student, unless he receives an instruction from the master. Dogs are guided not to move freely around the classroom. During breaks, they move in close proximity to the client, usually on a leash. We insist that the dog be walked only in the place reserved and that the child, or classmate or parents clean up after him.

The assistance dog should therefore behave calmly and inconspicuously at school, as it is guided and specially brought up to do so during training.

How to treat an assistance dog at school?

Several important rules also apply to classmates of disabled children who are accompanied to the school by assistance dogs. In particular, they should behave as if the dog was not at school. If they are lying on the client's bench during the hour, they should not disturb him, feed, stroke or call him without the consent of the master. It is extremely undesirable for them to give him orders, this role is intended exclusively for his master.

Preparing the school for the assistance dog's stay

If the school considers, at the request of the pupil, that he or she will be allowed access with an assistance dog, it is first necessary to inform the parents of classmates, find out if he agrees and make sure that there is no child in the class with a severe allergy to dog fur or unmanageable fear of dogs. In this case, it is necessary to arrange the transfer of the allergy sufferer to another class or cooperation with a psychologist to manage fear.

Preparing the school for the assistance dog's stay

If the school considers, at the request of the pupil, that he or she will be allowed access with an assistance dog, it is first necessary to inform the parents of classmates, find out if he agrees and make sure that there is no child in the class with a severe allergy to dog fur or unmanageable fear of dogs. In this case, it is necessary to arrange the transfer of the allergy sufferer to another class or cooperation with a psychologist to manage fear.

In agreement with the management, the Helping Paws trainer will come to the school to get to know the environment in which the dog will move and to provide teachers with information about the work of the assistance dog and its importance for the client.

Schools where assistance dogs can go

  • Soukromá obchodní akademie Podnikatel, Karlovy Vary
  • ZŠ Ladova, Litoměřice
  • ZŠ Pod Zvonek, Český Těšín
  • ZŠ Štěpánov
  • ZŠ Svahová ulice, Karlovy Vary
  • ZŠ praktická a ZŠ speciální, Kraslice
  • ZŠ Staré Město