This site was created and maintained as a place to network and share information about Therapy Dogs that work in schools. I am a school counselor at B.F.Kitchen Elementary, a small public school in Loveland, Colorado. I have been working with Copper, my registered Therapy Dog, in my school since October 2011. During that time, I've been able to document the positive impact of having Copper interact with students, staff and families. Working with a dog in school has numerous applications and reaches an extremely diverse group of students.
If you are thinking about starting a program or want additional information about ethical programs, please see the paper I wrote with Dr. Laura Bruneau at Adams State University. Pathways for Implementing a School Therapy Dog Program - Steps for Success and Best Practice Considerations.
My experience with Animal Assisted Therapy started in 2009 when I partnered with Colorado State University and HABIC (Human Animal Bond in Colorado) in a graduate level research project. We had one HABIC team work with a student. That student blossomed and I was convinced that I needed to learn more. I spent a significant portion of time on the internet trying to find more information about this work. The resources at that time were scarce so I took what best practices I could find and slowly started developing a solid foundation for this work. It was 18 months later that Copper first entered our building. I hope the information on this site shortens the entry time for other professionals interested in this modality and provides best practices to those of use who are breaking ground with their own programs.
For the 2019-2020 school year, we have 6 therapy dogs teams working at our school. Five of those teams are volunteers that come in for one hour per week. We work with individual students on a wide variety of goals. Copper continues to do amazing work at B.F. Kitchen Elementary and works with me one day per week.
We were very thankful to have 5 volunteer teams come into our school for the spring semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Copper worked a small handful of students each week for about 2 hours total. He is loving semi-retirement! I've started training Toby and hope he loves this work as much as Copper does.
I have started a closed Facebook group for education professionals. That group consists of several hundred education professional from across the globe that share research, best practices, stories and resources. Please search for School Therapy Dogs on Facebook and ask to join.
Research is vital to the positive growth of this work. If you are working with a therapy dog in your school and are interested in partnering in research, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org