Student Well-Being

Meet 7 School Therapy Dogs That Support Student and Staff Well-Being

By Evie Blad & Marina Whiteleather — August 24, 2023 1 min read
Therapy dogs Kalani, left, and Shadow pose for a portrait at Morris Elementary School in Morris, Okla., on Jan. 17, 2023.
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For many students, back to school means back to drool.

A growing number of K-12 schools have gone to the canines as social workers, counselors, and administrators train therapy dogs to work in classrooms, offering comfort and learning opportunities for students.

These furry friends aren’t ruffing it. They are pawsitively comfortable joining in classroom reading circles, being stroked by students during counseling sessions, and even helping students with disabilities perfect motor skills through guided exercises. You can read more about how schools train and use therapy dogs here.

To celebrate National Dog Day on Aug. 26, we looked across social media and asked Education Week’s social media followers to share pictures of their school’s therapy dogs.

Here’s a look at some of the canines that help support student and staff well-being.

New pooch in town

J.F. Burns Elementary School in Maineville, Ohio, welcomed Sunny to the staff this year.

Paw-lenteering for pets

Students in West Chester, Pa., schools enjoy a visit from Balto the service dog. Some schools invite trained, screened dogs and volunteer handlers into their classrooms, rather than training their own.

Poodles for pupils

Many schools select poodles for their therapy dogs in hopes that lower-shedding coats will be less likely to set off students’ allergies.

Besties

This gorgeous pair works at Poplar Grove middle and elementary schools in Franklin, Tenn.

Motivational pups

Educators who work with therapy dogs say they can become sort of unofficial school mascots, building students’ engagement in school through pets and belly rubs. Here, a therapy dog at a Kings Mills, Ohio, elementary school accepts birthday goodies.

Golden boy

Golden retrievers are another popular breed of therapy dogs, favored for their cheery dispositions and smily faces. But experts say dogs of any breed can be trained for the task as long as they enjoy being around people.

Say hello to Cooper, who works in a high school in West Deer, Pa.

Paw-mp and circumstance

Experts in animal-assisted therapy recommend that future therapy dogs start with basic obedience classes before they complete programs specially designed for therapy work.

In this photo, Duke, a good boy from Stockton, Calif., dons his tasseled cap.

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