DHK Puppies in Training 2019

Bella - Beagle

DHK Puppy in Training - Hertfordshire

Type of School Dog
Bella is training to become a DHK Educational Assistance Dog.

Owner/Handler of School Dog
Sheila O'Shaughnessy

Where the DHK School Dog is based
Bella is in training at Oak View Primary School in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

We are pleased to introduce Bella, our Beagle puppy, who was born on 1st February 2019. Bella is the first DHK Beagle and we are very proud of that fact, as are Marie and Adrian, our Kennel Club Assured Breeders.

Breeds were covered at the DHK workshop and after some family discussion we chose a Beagle as they are known for their friendly, loving nature, are sociable and good with children, other dogs and animals. DHK approved our choice and we are pleased to say that Bella certainly lives up to these traits and is always really happy to meet everyone. Unfortunately, her sad face doesn't always show this but it's confirmed by her wagging tail!

We recently attended our first intensive Puppy Training Day with Tracey at the DHK headquarters. Bella is always a very keen student, especially when it involves nice treats such as cheese! She worked really hard that day and Tracey said that she is an extremely intelligent puppy (another proud moment). While in Devon we took Bella to the beach. She loved it and having found a quiet spot we were brave and let her off the lead and she did some really good recall training so fingers crossed that this continues!

We are working hard towards our advanced Puppy Training Day which takes place later this year. If Bella passes the Puppy Programme she will start training to become our Educational Assistance dog and among other things she will be trained to become a reading companion to children who may find reading 'tricky'. We are certain that reading to a non-judgemental dog who 'just listens' and does not laugh or make fun of them will help develop our pupils confidence and self-esteem and encourage a life long love of learning. Our children are learning to 'Talk Dog' and can see what Bella is doing through updates on 'Bella's Board', assemblies and our website.

We carried out a lot of research on 'School Dogs' and were amazed that there is currently no benchmark standard of training for a dog to come into a school. We shared DHK's belief that a dog should only be working with a child, in an educational environment, if it has been trained, assessed and certified to do so. We acknowledge that we were extremely fortunate to secure a place on a DHK workshop where we received lots of information from Tracey and Gail and had the opportunity to meet Nik and Fernie who are working as a DHK Team, Teazel, Gail's dog, who is a DHK Certified PR School Dog and Tracey's dog, Vader a DHK Certified Support Dog.

With the knowledge and experience that Tracey and Gail shared with us, we secured Bella from a great breeder and have found an excellent local trainer and have begun our journey with DHK to turn our puppy into a fantastic School Dog who will support our School Vision 'to create a learning culture that empowers skilful, independent learners for the future'.


Bess - Black Labrador

DHK Puppy in Training Cornwall

Type of School Dog
Bess is training to become a DHK Educational Assistance Dog

Owner/Handler of School Dog
Sam Hunter

Where the DHK School Dog is based
Bess is in training at Montpelier Primary School, Plymouth

Bess was born on the 23rd May 2019 and she is one of three DHK school puppies in training from the same litter! She is a beautiful black Labrador who is full of fun, very affectionate and loves learning new things. She is a typical Labrador and is extra happy when she is training with yummy treats. She is being trained by Sam who is a Headteacher and Bess is based in her office where where she spends plenty of time sleeping while getting to know the school environment.

There are approximately 650 pupils and 80 members of staff in the school and they are all helping to support Bess' training. She loves wearing her training jacket and wags her tail when she knows that it is about to be put on. Equally, she makes her way very happily into school each day - a model pupil!

Sam is delighted to be working with DHK and has been concerned about what she has seen in other schools where there are dogs who are not properly trained but still with children. Bess is at the start of her journey but doing an amazing job so far. Although she is growing bigger and bigger she still likes to curl up on Sam's lap for a cuddle before she falls asleep.


Bramble - Black Labrador

DHK Puppy in Training - Cornwall

Type of School Dog
Bramble is training to become a DHK Educational Assistance Dog.

Owner/Handler of School Dog
Lisa Tamblyn

Where the DHK School Dog is based
Bramble is in training at Burraton Community Primary School, Cornwall

Bramble is a black Labrador who was born on 16th May 2019. She is training to be a DHK Educational Assistance Dog at Burraton C.P. School which has 420 children in the mainstream classes, and 10 children in the specialist provision which is integral to the school. Most of these children are on the autistic spectrum.
With ever growing numbers of children entering school with mental health issues, and knowing a little about the amazing impact that animals can have on children's wellbeing, I was keen to find an organisation that could offer high quality support, guidance and advice on bringing a school dog into our setting. After some internet research, I was thrilled to find DHK.
Having attended the two day DHK School Dog Workshop, I was initially doubtful that I could make the dream of having a School Dog a reality. The detailed information shared regarding expectations, regulations and accreditation made me seriously consider the practicalities of being responsible for a dog in school. Despite this, I remained committed to the dream, and set about turning it into a reality. My governors were fully on board, and we knew that not only would a dog impact positively on the children of our school, but also on the staff.
I particularly wanted a puppy who would be the right age to come and live with me at the start of the summer holiday, so that we could build a bond and understand one another prior to starting school in September. I sent numerous emails to breeders I found through the Kennel Club, and eventually found Richard and Helena who expected to have a litter around the right time. From there it was all systems go. Equipment and reading materials were purchased, and regular communication struck up with Gail regarding the expected litter. I was amused for many weeks that my house looked like a pet shop with all the necessary equipment, beds and bowls, but there was no puppy!
Bramble visited school many times during August and so was familiar with the building and grounds before starting in September. She now comes into school with me every day, and we are both establishing a new routine together. Bramble spends her time in my office where she has a crate with a high play pen surrounding it, plus a comfy bed under my desk next to my feet. We have an occasional walkabout through the corridors during the day, when Bramble loves to peer through the glass panels of the doors to watch the children learning in their classrooms.
Bramble is a very calm puppy, always wanting to learn and to please. If she isn't sure what she is being asked to do, she will go through her whole repertoire of tricks and cues really quickly in the hope of hitting on the right thing! The fact that food is her most favourite thing in the world makes her relatively easy to train.


Bruce - Black Labrador

DHK Puppy in Training - Essex

Type of School Dog
Bruce is training to become a DHK Educational Assistance Dog.

Owner/Handler of School Dog
Maxine Davies

Where the DHK School Dog is based
Bruce is in training at Chingford Foundation School, East London

I had been looking into getting a School Dog for a while before I saw the DHK website. I realised as I was researching the area that bringing a dog into school was not only a massive undertaking for me but also had serious implications for the welfare of the dog. For me the dog's welfare is paramount and I did not want to do anything that caused harm. I visited websites of schools who had school dogs; what I saw sometimes concerned me and as I did not want to plow a route that would lead to welfare issues for the dog I felt I needed support to do things in the best possible way. It was during my research that I saw DHK's website and I was instantly struck by the charity's adherence to good solid training for the handler and the dog, whilst ensuring that the dog's well being was at the centre of everything DHK does. I applied to attend a School Dog Workshop in January 2019 and I finally went on the 2 day Workshop in June 2019. It was worth the wait. I was impressed by what I saw. Tracey was clearly passionate about everything 'dog' and her academic studies gave her both a practical and scientific understanding of dogs which was invaluable. It was also good to meet the DHK School Dogs on the day; Teazel, Fernie, Chilli and Vader. They were as impressive as their handlers Nik, Tracey and Gail, and gave me a real insight into how much training and effort from both dog and handler goes into training a DHK Dog.

Whilst at the workshop I met fellow delegate Sam Hunter who was also looking to bring a dog into her school. She told me about some black Labrador Retriever puppies a breeder who had been approved by DHK was offering - and there was one boy left! I think the fact that Gail DHK's Director of Primary Education, Welfare and Public Relations had approved the breeder was very important. Getting good advice on the breed and the breeder is vital. Gail was formerly a dog breeder and she has a very clear idea of what makes a good breeder. This gave me confidence in purchasing my puppy. I don't think it would be a good idea to just buy a puppy and hope for the best. So the support of DHK was paramount in my making this decision. I went to Crewkerne to meet the breeder on my way home from the DHK workshop and was impressed by what I saw. I wanted an intelligent dog with an excellent temperament for school but also a dog that would fit family life. And that's Bruce!

Bruce is a truly excellent puppy. I have owned dogs before - I am a massive Pembrokeshire Corgi fan and I love the breed. But this time I wanted something different to the dog I had before and that's exactly what I have. I am surprised by what Bruce can do at 16 weeks and love to see him training - I can see him thinking as I am asking him to do things and see how success pleases him. I am very lucky to have such a fantastic dog. I have found that I love dog training and supporting Bruce to become the excellent School Dog I know he will become. I also love having him at school learning to be in the back-ground and fitting into a new routine. Dogs are truly wonderful animals and I think Bruce is the embodiment of this!

Lastly getting the school environment right has been of great importance. Again Gail was an important guide and source of information. I have a large office which I have turned into a doggy paradise. Enrichment is very important so I have set up a sniffing corner with toys, snuffle mats, wobble boards and a small platform. Bringing a dog into school is not to be taken lightly. It is a serious endeavour and takes commitment. I know after Bruce's DHK Puppy Training Day that I am more committed than ever and proud of what Bruce and I have achieved together in 16 weeks. I look forward to working with DHK in training Bruce to become a School Dog and ensuring he becomes a credit to them and their vision.


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