Well-being Dogs in Schools can Reduce Stress and Assist Positive Mental Health in Students

There is a new kind of pawsome pal in town, the ‘school well-being dog!’ It’s a new concept to many of us but it is an incentive that has been publically recommended by the Education Secretary Damian Hinds, who says that more and more schools seem to be accepting ‘well-being dogs’ into their school communities and that ‘pets can really help!’ But what is a well-being dog, how can it benefit students and how does a school obtain one?

Firstly, it is important to outline the issues that pupils face, as this ultimately sets the foundational needs for a well-being dog to come into the school community. Students feel an increased pressure via social media to appear ‘perfect’ and this can lead to online bullying, where students can feel they have no escape even once they go home from school. This can be extremely difficult for young individuals and lead to adolescent mental health issues such as; self-harming, depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Bringing a pet into the school is said to increase a sense of well-being and safety for students, which in turn can have a positive effect on their mental health. Students can relate to animals and they have a soothing presence within the school environment. Mental health is an issue that needs to be addressed in schools and the emotional well-being of students needs to be developed, so that they can cope in later life.

Well-being dogs are a low-cost effective solution to assisting young people with feeling safe within the school and improving their mental health. Students can empathise with animals in a way that they can’t always with other humans and this develops their emotional well-being. Having a dog in school can be an uplifting experience and assist individuals in feeling more relaxed, confident and ability to cope with challenging situations.

So how does a school obtain a well-being dog? Well there are large national companies which specialise specifically in rearing well-being dogs from puppies, there are also independent well-being dog handlers, who you can search for locally to your school. A school can seek out contact and commence communications with regards to how often the dog would be in school and which dog would suit the specific school environment. Once a suitable agreement is in place then parents will be contacted to seek written permission for their child to be involved in the well-being dog sessions, parents have the choice to opt out their child at this stage.

Then once all of the permission slips have been received back, the dog can begin coming into schools. Often dogs will start as puppies so that they can get used to their new school environment, simultaneously with the pupils getting used to their new pawfect pal! The dog can sit in the entrance of school and greet everyone as they come into class and then the well-being dog can usually roam around the school freely for a period of time, interacting with students!

One thing is for sure well-being dogs are well and truly perceived as part of the school community and positive interactions between the children and dog are welcomed and encouraged. At Scamps and Champs we think it is a fantastic idea both for the dog’s socialisation and for the emotional support and development of the children. Allowing dogs and children to interact positively will allow children who don’t have any animals at home, to reduce any anxieties they may have and support their confidence development.

To find out more about Scamps and Champs services or to ask us a pet care related question, simply complete our short online enquiry form.

It’s Time to Talk – Mental Health Matters for your Dog

Pets, Mental Health, Health, Care

Time to Talk Day – Thursday 7th February 2019

Mental health affects one in four of us yet people are still afraid to talk to each other about it; usually due to insecurities, experiencing embarrassment and feeling worried about what others will think of them. This subsequently means that many of us suffer in isolation, which can often have a detrimental effect on an individual’s mental health and well-being. Time to Talk Day is all about bringing people together so that they feel comfortable to have ‘that’ conversation. Whether it’s with a cup of tea, a chat with a close friend or meeting up with a family member, the aim is to break the stigma of talking about mental health and raising awareness in the process. Here at Scamps and Champs we recognise that it isn’t just humans that suffer with mental health issues, our beloved dogs can too! Therefore, we aim to prompt the conversation with our followers regarding mental health for dogs, in order to inform you with what problems can look like and signs to look out for. By raising awareness and promoting an informed discussion regarding your dog’s mental health, we also hope to arm you with the details you need to support your furry friend on the road to recovery.

So how can my Dog be affected by Mental Health?

As we know mental health is just as real as physical health and can be completely debilitating if it isn’t treated correctly. Believe it or not our dogs can be affected by many of the same mental health issues us humans can from anxiety, depression, social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, but how can mental health problems in our dogs be recognised and how can they be treated? People’s experiences impact who they are and how they choose to behave, it is the same with our four-legged friends. A positive experience can influence us to make excellent choices and model us into decent human beings, who have the ability to act and react in a well-rounded thought out way. However, a negative experience can cause stress and have a lasting detrimental impact on the way we chose to behave. Below we are going to cover the main mental health issues that can be experienced by dogs, explain how to identify each condition and then offer some advice on how to support your pawly pal back to health.


The most common form of anxiety identified within dogs is separation anxiety, this is where your dog absolutely hates being separated from its owner, particularly for extended periods of time. This could be due to spending too much time with the owner as a puppy and then circumstances altering, for example an owner obtaining a new job that takes them out of the home environment. However, separation anxiety can occur in dogs that have had a troubled start in life and therefore do not like to be left on their own, as they fear that something bad will happen to them.

Common signs that your dog has separation anxiety:

  • Your dog becoming erratic as you leave the house
  • Damage to your home being found on your return home
  • Dog mess accidents being found on your return home

The solution is to seek professional help from a dog behaviour expert who can assist you in identifying why your dog has separation anxiety. Then work with them to find a solution that suits your dog’s individual needs. If you have a new puppy it is important that you create them a space they feel safe in such as a crate, bed or small room, which is their personal safe space of comfort. Then work on settling your puppy into its safe space each time that you go out and leave your puppy for short bursts of time, such as ten minutes to begin with whilst you go to the shop. Then gradually increase the time you leave them up to four hours, once they are old enough to hold the toilet and wait to go outside. Often leaving a speech radio station on such as BBC Radio 4 in the safe space, can assist in keeping them company and mask outside noises that may be initially frightening for your dog.


Depression can be experienced in dogs when an alteration of routine occurs. This can be in the form of a change in home environment, an alteration in food or walking routine or following the death of a fellow canine companion. Whereas in humans a ‘change of scene’ may be beneficial for depression, any change can actually be the trigger of depression in dogs.

Common signs that your dog has depression:

  • Appetite decreases
  • Alteration in sleeping habits
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Excessive licking
  • Avoidance or hiding

You can improve this by creating and maintaining a daily routine for your dogs, keeping their life aspects as consistent as possible. Taking your dogs out and exercising them efficiently in fields where they can enjoy the grass, mud and fresh air. If you have just experienced the death of another loved pet and your dog is showing signs of depression, give them as much love and attention as you can, support them through the difficult phase. If symptoms of depression persist then seek advice from your veterinary health professional as they may have further advice or your dog may have an underlying condition that needs treating medically. 

Social Anxiety

Dogs are extremely sociable animals and enjoy lots of walks, cuddles and most importantly company. They require a lot of attention and tender loving care, just like we do! However, if dogs are not socialised properly as puppies or if they are bought up in isolation, they can develop social anxieties which are not usually associated with their breed. Thus, meaning that when you try and socialise your dog out in public and it is approached by another dog, your dog can become aggressive as it is frightened about what the other dog may do to it.

Common signs that your dog has social anxiety:

  • Physically trembling
  • Tail tucked in
  • Withdrawal and hiding
  • Reduction in activity
  • Aggression and excessive barking

The best way to eliminate social anxiety is to commence training whilst your dog is young, by socialising your dog with other humans and dogs on a regular basis. This can cause an issue if you have adopted a dog or you have obtained an adult dog from a rescue shelter, as it will already have established negative behaviours within previous years. In this case it is advisable to seek professional assistance from a dog behaviourist or dog trainer, who can tailor support to your individual dog’s needs. In addition, you need to establish trust with your new furry friend, by spending as much time with them as you can and positively rewarding good behaviour with treats. This needs to include gradually introducing other dogs to your dog, commencing on a one-on-one basis and taking it slowly, monitoring your dog’s reactions and rewarding positive experiences with treats.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic stress disorder occurs in dogs following a traumatic event, just as it does in humans. This can occur through mistreatment, physical violence or abuse, from humans or sometimes from other dogs. This can cause long-lasting mental health issues with crippling effects on a dog’s life, as triggers such as similar noises or places, can cause the dog to relive the trauma over and over again.

Common signs that a dog has post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Hyper vigilance
  • Irritability
  • Distress
  • Avoiding familiar areas
  • Shaking
  • Displays of anxiety and depressive symptoms (as above)

As with anxiety and depression, canine post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) can cause your dog to act out more than usual or in un-characteristically for the individual dog. It is recommended that you seek immediate assistance from your veterinary doctor in order to see if medical assistance is required. Dog behaviour and training can assist you in addition moving forward and with the correct treatment for your dog CPTSD can subside within a couple of months.

Take a further look at our business Scamps and Champs and our full range of pet caring services available.