The mission of the Dyersburg City Schools' B.a.T. program is to enhance the quality of students' education by allowing them to work with the training and care of animals. The College Street Campus students and staff participate in the training of rescue puppies during their school days. The puppies return home with their owners at the end of the day. The puppies go through numerous tests, Canine Good Citizen Test through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, to become a therapy animal. Therapy animals provide psychological or physiological therapy to other individuals other than their handlers. Therapy animals have stable tempermants, are easy-going and socialize with others while on duty. Numerous puppies have been trained at College Street Campus, but the most famous of all, is Maggie. Maggie is now the Dyersburg Intermediate School's Library Dog. She spends the day in the library with Mrs. Bernier but students may receive "Maggie Time" from their teacher and Mrs. Bernier. Frankie, is the original Dyersubrg therapy dog, and visits all schools but his home base is the Primary School with Mr. Brad Smith.
1Dyersburg City Schools
Bonding and Training Program
Mission: The Mission of the Dyersburg City Schools’ BaT program is to enhance the quality of students’ education through embedding a program of training and care of animals.
Purpose: Therapy dogs provide psychological or physiological therapy to Students as well as staff.
Therapy Dogs that work in Dyersburg City Schools belong to individuals and go home every evening with their owner. The dogs are not owned by Dyersburg City Schools.
- Puppies must go through a 30-day introductory period to establish whether they are compatible to the program.
- Dogs entering the program must have stable and calm temperament.
- Dogs must be able to socialize with people and other animals while on duty.
- Dogs must have training in accordance to the Canine Good Citizen Test:
Accepting a friendly stranger: Dog will sit or stand patiently while you stop and speak to a stranger.
A pat on the head: Sitting politely for petting from a stranger.
A trip to the veterinarian or groomer: Dog must permit stranger to brush it and examine paws and ears.
Walking on a loose lead: Dog must walk with you while on a loose leash, including turning corners and coming to a stop.
Walking through a crowd: Dog must be at ease while walking with you through a crowd.
Sitting and staying: Dog must perform a sit and/or down and then remain in place while you walk away.
Coming when called: Dog must come to you on command.
Reacting to another animal: Dog must show only casual interest.
Supervised separation: Dog must not panic when confronted by common distractions, such as loud noise or passing jogger.
Dog-sitter: Dog should behave when a friendly stranger takes its leash and you disappear for three minutes.
- Dogs will be tested by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs or other pre-approved professional organization to receive certification before entering service in any Dyersburg City Schools. Alliance of Therapy Dogs requires 3 tests before certification.
- Desired dogs traits: No barking, No licking, keep all 4 paws on ground, reinforcements through affection, judgment of people.
- Desired training: left-handed, leash commands, visual commands, verbal commands, no people food
- Dogs will be re-evaluated at the beginning of each school year.
The Dyersburg City Schools will provide dog food for dogs that work full-time in the schools. The Dyer County Animal Hospital provides veterinarian care at a discount rate.
Therapy Dog Program
It is apparent through research that therapy dogs can enhance children’s psychological development, improve social skills, and increase self-esteem among other benefits. Therapy dogs do provide psychological or physiological therapy to other individuals other than the handlers. The purpose of the therapy dog is to allow students to work and care for the dog, to interact and teach responsibility, compassion and respect. Therapy dogs, properly managed in the school setting, can make a difference in skills such as reading as well as contribute to emotional and social development. Therapy dogs can decrease anxiety and allows the student to develop a non-judgmental rapport thus enabling them to work through personal issues such as anger management, bullying, etc. Supervised and guided activities can help students to learn how to handle conflicts and satisfactory social interactions. Research from https://www.therapydogs.com/therapy-dogs-classrooms-campuses/ shows the benefits of therapy dogs in the classrooms and on college campuses:
- Physical– interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile
stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses
- Social– a visit with a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, promotes
greater self-esteem and well-being, and focused interaction with others
- Cognitive– companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem solving and game playing
- Emotional– an adorable four-legged visitor improves self-esteem, acceptance from others, and lifts mood often provoking laughter
- Environmental– a dog in a facility decreases the feeling of a sterile environment, lifts mood and this continues after visits
There are questions and concerns with any new program. A summary of results from the California school survey of 2002 is typical concerns.
- Legal Implications and Liability – Work with a reputable organization who trains and
evaluates the animal/handler. Also, have the liability
insurance component and have the consent forms to
ensure full awareness and to deter potential liability.
- Supervision – Ensure that the dog is with a handler or in its time-out zone.
- Allergic Reactions – Be conscientious of students and staff who are allergic to animals.
- Potential harm to students and staff - Competent handlers are trained to watch for potential harm to either child or their dog. The Handler
is primarily responsible to manage the animal when on site.
- Animal maintenance/animal odor – Reliable therapy dog organizations require regular veterinarians checks for the dogs to keep
- Potential harm to animals - Competent handlers are trained to watch for potential harm to either child or their dog. Handler is primarily responsible to
manage the animal when on site.
- Maintenance costs – The system accepts some of the costs: food/vet bills
- Phobic fears of staff and students - Experience and research has also shown that with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to
overcome their fear of animals and with it, grow in respect and appreciation of them.
The reality is that all of these objections can be adequately met when schools do their homework, prepare teachers and students properly, communicate clearly with parents, and work with qualified and competent therapy dog organizations.
Decisions to make before beginning a Therapy Dog program
Administrative Approval: The principal and staff must be in agreement in having a therapy dog in the building due to the amount of attention and sometimes distraction caused by the dog.
Goals of the program: Why ???? What is the purpose of having a therapy dog in the building?
Site Evaluation: Look at the school’s layout and decide the plan of movement for the dog, where is the home base for the dog, where is the time away for the dog (kennel?) What is the procedure for the dog during a Fire alarm or lock-down protocol?
Student Assessment: First, have parental approval before a student works with dog. There will be students and staff who are allergic or who just don’t want to work or be around the dog. Then you issue certain classroom(s) that are not dog friendly. There will also be certain students who are not allowed to work with the dog due to mistreatment.
Dog Selection: The dog must be patient and calm in any circumstance. A dog that doesn’t mind chaos and does like children.
Recuse dog or breeder: This is a tough decision but really doesn’t matter because it is the disposition of the dog that matters.
Size: A larger dog is preferable because a small dog does have a larger chance of being injured. Larger dog must stay “on-duty” and not play during recess, etc.
Age/Health of dog: A dog needs to be healthy with no problems due to aging, etc. The dog may need to be on house-rest if injured/sick and begin retirement when the job is too stressful. Some organizations require dogs to be 2 years old before certification. We have been fortunate due to the fact that Alliance of Therapy Dogs only requires 1 year but doesn’t encourage that age.
Suggestions of things to do before beginning the program: Bring the dog into the building when students have been there but are not present. This way the dog gets to smell, look, and become acclimated to hallways that is full of new work and new smells. Then, provide education to children and staff on the protocols when approaching a dog and have a specific number of students who can approach the dog at one time.
Typical classroom education before therapy dog is introduced:
Procedure for students to follow before approaching a dog:
Ask: Students must ask and receive a response from the handler before approaching the dog. This allows the
handler time to respond but also observe.
Pet: Allow the dog a change to smell the back of your hand (fist) and then the pet the dog.
Goodbye: Keep the times of “petting” to a quick process, especially if students are waiting to approach.
Considerations for the dog: The dogs work best when kept at school on part-time bases. The ½ day schedule
or part of a week works best. Also, have a space that is “dog only” zone. Maggie stays behind the librarian’s desk and students are aware that they are not allowed in this area.
Possible Goals for school: Counseling, OT, Classroom environment, rewards, test anxiety, focus, attention, and small group work
Animal assisted school activities: counseling, crossing guard, tutor mascot, recess duty, ELA support, animal assisted crisis responses
* Do your homework.
* Talk with a “satisfied customer”.
* It is very helpful to talk with those who have been through the process and have seen both the benefits as well as some of the problems that need to be
* Find a competent consultant.
* Establish a site assessment.
* Establish policies and procedures.
* Start small.
Perhaps the list of things that need to be done to implement a dog therapy program in your school may seem daunting. The reality is that the process is more streamlined and manageable than at first impression. There are support systems but make sure the support comes from a reputable group.
Dyersburg City Schools
College Street Campus
307 College Street
Dyersburg, TN 38024
The dogs at CSC will be taught basic obedience lessons by students and Coach Newsome’s classes. Other students will help with the dogs’ general care.
The benefits to the animals include development of a more stable/reliable animal. It is our hope that the animals participating in this training will better suited to adopt out due to their training and socialization.
The benefits to the student are many. Studies show that students are more relaxed and perform better academically around animals. They also have a sense of accomplishment and possibly an increase in self-esteem as a reward for their work.
I have placed a permission slip at the bottom of this letter. This permission slip must be completed and returned to the teacher for your child to participate in the care or training.
_________My child has permission to work with the dogs.
_________My child does not have permission to work with dogs.
Student’s Name Date
Parent’s Signature Date
Canine Good Citizen's Test
Dyersburg City School System
College Street Campus
307 College Street
Dyersburg, TN 38024
Checklist for training and Canine Good Citizen’s Test
______ Dog sit/stand patiently while handler is speaking to a stranger.
______ Dog sits and allows someone to pet them on the head.
______ Dog allows person to play with ears and looks at paws.
______ Dog walks next to handler while on a loose lead – turning corners and stopping.
______ Dog appears at ease while walking through a crowd.
______ Dog sits or down while handler walks away.
______ Dog comes when called.
______ Dog shows casual interest to other animals/dogs.
______ Dog does not panic when confronted with distractions – loud noises or passing
______ Dog behaves when a friendly stranger takes the leash while handler disappears
for a few minutes.
Therapy Dog Links
UTK Habit link
Alliance of Therapy Dogs
Therapy Dogs vs Service Dogs
Therapy Dogs are not Assistance Dogs. Assistance dogs are used to assist humans and are allowed in most public areas. Assistance Dogs are legally protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. However, Therapy Dogs do not provide direct assistance to humans and are not mentioned in the Americans with Disabilities Act. An institution may invite or prohibit a therapy dog from entering their facilities and usually have rigorous requirements for therapy dogs who are allowed to enter.
Schools on HABIT website:
Ball Camp Elementary
Belle Morris Elementary
Cedar Bluff Middle School
Chilhowee Intermediate School
Christian Academy of Knoxville
East Knox Elementary
Episcopal School of Knoxville
First Lutheran School of Knoxville
Fountain City Elementary
Freedom Christian Academy
Green Magnet School
Halls Middle School
Halls High School
Mooreland Heights Elementary
Rocky Hill Elementary
Sacred Heart Cathedral School
St. John Neumann Catholic School
West Haven Elementary
West Hills Elementary
A Research Grant!
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $79,000 grant to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for a new study, The Effect of Animal-Assisted Intervention on Preoperative Anxiety and Dose of Sedation in Children.
The three-year, cross-over-designed study on behalf of the veterinary college’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and Biomedical and Diagnostics Sciences will examine 72 children between the ages of 2 and 17 and randomly determine whether the child receives a therapy dog or an iPad tablet 20 minutes before sedation. Dr. Ng and co- investigators Julia Albright, DVM, MA and Marcy Souza, DVM, MPH, will then evaluate heart rate, blood pressure and medicine levels for sedation and compare the amounts of each group. It is expected that children provided with a therapy dog prior to surgery will have significantly lower preoperative anxiety and will require a decreased amount of medication for sedation compared to children who do not interact with a therapy dog."
Different Dogs, Different Missions
Service Animals: Provides assistance to their handler.
Dogs or Miniature Horses
All rights of a person
Working animals, do not approach
Support Animals: Provides psychological or physiological therapy to other individuals other than handlers.
Can be excluded
Ask to approach
Some will allow interaction, others not
Therapy Animals: Provides psychological or physiological therapy to other individuals other than handlers.
Can be excluded
Ask to approach
Owner usually encourages interaction
The evaluation actually begins when the evaluator approaches the owner and their dog. The evaluator is observing how the dog reacts to strangers. Does it step forward to greet the stranger? Does it move behind the owner and peak out at the stranger? The dog's personality is important in finding the best placement; making the best match between the dog and the facility.
Approach to the Dog
After the initial introductions, the evaluator will approach the dog, if it has not approached the evaluator. Often this is done with an outstretched hand (which could be perceived as a threat or greeting, depending on the dog), with the palm of the hand toward the evaluator (a less threatening position than if the dog was approached with the palm of the hand toward the dog which could be perceived as an attempt to grab the dog). The evaluator will look directly at the dog (which may be perceived as a sign of dominance by some dogs) and not speak (a somewhat unusual response since most dogs will expect strangers to greet them verbally).
Manners and Manageability
These evaluations are first done with the owner. Afterwards, the evaluator takes the dog out of the presence of the owner and repeats this set of tests and the ones following. Dogs must walk calmly on a leash. They do not have to be formally trained even though such dogs often do better in the program. Several dominance gestures (e.g., pressure on the top of the head, holding the muzzle or head, staring) are used to test the dog's response to dominance signals. A strongly dominant dog may not be appropriate for AAA/AAT since the gestures that residents and clients use (e.g., petting) may be perceived by the dog as a challenge. Similarly, the strongly submissive dog may perceived the same gestures as threats and become fearful and even aggressive because of their fear.
Interacting with the Dog
This is play time and should be enjoyed by the dog and the evaluator. During this time, the evaluator may throw a ball. If the dog retrieves it, fine. If the dog does not retrieve it, fine. Again, we are simply trying to describe the dog's personality. Other games may be played during this time during which the dog will be touched all over its body. Any sensitive areas are noted. Also during this session, the evaluator will see if the dog will allow itself to be placed on its back. This is an indirect measure of submissiveness. The dog is not forced on its back if it resists.
Toward the end of the play session, and when the dog does not expect it, a loud noise will be created. It is important to see how the dog responds because loud, unexpected noises may occur in the facilities where the dog is visiting. Similarly, at some point a toe or ear is pinched (the toe is not used it the dog has already exhibited sensitivity in this area). This is not a severe pinch but is designed to see how the dog will respond if accidently stepped on. Although it is the owner's responsibility to protect their pet during visits, accidents can happen.
The evaluator completes the temperament profile. Again, we are not looking for a specific profile but are describing the dog's temperament as an aid to placement.