Therapy dogs have a calming effect on students

Therapy dogs have a calming effect on students. (WJAR)

An ever increasing number of schools are going to the dogs, literally! We're talking 'therapy dogs', of course, that can diffuse tension, and have a calming effect on students, like at Southside Elementary School in Providence.

Bella and Zoey are the two therapy dogs in the Principal's office at Southside Elementary. At this Charter School they can write their own rules, with approval from the Board of Education.

Wendy Randle is the Director of Education at the school that says “We don't want our school to be a fear-based environment, those days are over. That is more of a traditional approach to discipline that existed when we went to school. Now we have more of a nurturing, caring, loving and supporting environment.”

“When a student may be anxious or may want to talk about something, it grounds them,” adds Janice De Frances, the Special Education Director at the school.

Enter both dogs that have gone through formal training and evaluation for temperament and ability to perform the tasks at paw. Like happened to a child in crisis last year.

“He was just going through a really hard transitional time in his life,” says Randle. “And school was a safe place for him. And he probably just really didn't want to leave. They realize h`ow much love and support that they feel here. The dogs just contribute to that loving environment.”

Back in the day, many of you can remember when you were in school, and maybe you were talking a lot or being disruptive, and would get sent to the principal's office. That has happened to Andres Mazariegos Ortiz, a 4th Grader at Southside Elementary. But the therapy dogs helped. “Sometimes I'm not doing my work, I'm not doing what I'm supposed to do. If you're sad, they heal you up.

Same deal with student Kanaisha Roberts. “Doesn't really feel good when you're in trouble because then you're like 'oh why did I do that?’, and then when you like go back to your classroom, you're like 'I'm going to do better' “.

“They're very gentle, and they're loving, and they're kind,” chimes in Elizabeth Delacruz, another students that has benefited from the therapy dogs.

Click here for information on a study performed over the past 15 years that who that therapy dogs really work.

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