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Patting a dog is as relaxing as eating chocolate!

​I love having the dogs in class, they make me feel so happy. Patting them helps me concentrate

Numerous studies across the world have shown that the human–animal bond has huge benefits, including a response that is comparable to other things we know cause relaxation, like eating chocolate!

No chocolate is required at Aldridge State High School because they lead the way with 2 animal-assisted learning programs. They support students to negotiate the world of their emotions and engage with the curriculum, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The PAWS program has been running for 2 years and has been so successful that community therapy dog handler Janeen Greaves is now training a second dog to join the program.

'Student attendance has increased and students are calm and ready to learn in the classroom after interacting with the dogs,' Janeen said.

Shane Kraut is an agriculture teacher at the school and a senior instructor for Horse Safety Australia.

'The horse is a mirror. Working with horses teaches students not only to better understand their emotions, but how to self-regulate their emotional state. It is life-changing for them,' he said.

'Students use self-control and leadership skills so that the horse will follow their directions.

'Many of the students have never handled large animals before—let alone led a horse through an obstacle course; so learning to use their body language and energy to move them is very new for them. It takes practice, but it teaches them skills that they can use in every aspect of their lives.'

Both programs have seen huge success with students keen to participate in the activities and lessons.

Aldridge State High School student Baiden said leading the horse was special.

'I feel I am learning to be the leader, and I am learning from the horse. It is different to communicate with a horse than a person. I have to have self-control, but then it's sort of the same as they have feelings, too,' Baiden said.

Find out more about Aldridge State High School.

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Last updated
18 November 2019