The Magic of Mitzi – our School Therapy Dog

There are many benefits of having a school dog. Children and staff alike talk about the calming effect of Mitzi (whose tail will be wagging being in the limelight!) 

The first known therapy dog was one belonging to Sigmund Freud. Pictures of Freud show him having his dog Jofi in his office during psychotherapy sessions. 

However, the actual benefits in practice were not formally discovered until Dr Boris Levinson conducted his research in 1960, where he noticed the change in behavioural patterns and positive effects on children.1 Nowadays, the benefits of exposure to dogs are widely documented with the value added to the children being genuinely positive.

Benefits of a school dog


The benefits of having a dog have been quite revealing at a school. Mitzi has had a profound effect on children’s mindfulness. Dogs help with self-esteem as the children can talk to or confide in a way they cannot with other people. They are a great resource to get children to practice their confidence skills.

Reduce anxiety

Mitzi has a way of connecting with children’s different needs – vital post-COVID as children are more likely to struggle mentally and socially. Dogs can raise serotine and dopamine levels which is important for those who suffer from anxiety. These hormones can calm and relax the nervous system.

Being a companion

They don’t call dogs ‘a man’s best friend’ for nothing. Dogs are great companions as they love unconditionally. This can help calm and comfort children who may be feeling a bit wobbly throughout the school day but crucially at that all important morning drop-off.

Improve Literacy skills

Dogs can be significant in helping children build confidence to read out loud in an environment they feel safe and comfortable in.

Teaching Empathy

Caring for a dog’s needs and thinking about others is an excellent way for children to learn empathy and how to act.

We have a thorough and robust risk assessment available through the school office should you have any concerns. Once Mitzi has greeted the school community at the gate each morning, she spends most of her day in the Headmistress’s office meeting and greeting children as necessary and being always ready to listen! Whilst we recognise a small risk with having a dog on the school premises, we take all necessary steps to mitigate this and enjoy the benefits listed above that enhance our school community greatly.