Comfort Pets Can Help Kids Learn

Bringing dogs into the classroom to unleash student potential.

Cute girl learning with the help of a friendly dog.

(Eleonora_os /


Fifty five public schools in New York City have recently invited furry friends to their classrooms. The Comfort Dog Program, as Chalkbeat New York reports,  has been around for five years, and is now starting to gain more popularity, especially in the post-virtual-learning classrooms. Gone are the days, it seems, when Mary couldn’t bring her little lamb to class.

The benefits of pets in the classroom
Comfort dogs have been found to increase levels of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine in our brains, hormones promoting positive feelings and a happy mood, explains American Kennel Club, a non profit organization that advocates for purebred dogs. But how are these pets helpful in the classroom? 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Good Dog Foundation (@gooddogtherapy)

For some students, the comfort pet provides the emotional support they need, which then allows the child to be engaged and successful in their studies. A struggling student can cuddle the pet and get the support he or she needs at the time, which also develops their self awareness and ability to regulate their emotions. In other cases, teachers use the pet as part of the lesson. Chalkbeat New York told the story of a teacher, Meredith Loftus, who brought a puppy named Chip to help out with a phonics game in the classroom. 

Training pets for schools and classrooms
Dog training is not necessarily a walk in the park, although it can definitely include those. It takes time, effort and consistency to train pets, and this is the case for this program too. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Good Dog Foundation (@gooddogtherapy)

To be a part of the program, an educator and their dog must participate in a six-hour training session by The Good Dog Foundation.  This training teaches the educator what to do if students are scared of pets. It also trains dogs on the differences they will experience in a school environment, such as the school bell, fire alarms, loud announcements and other possible distractions. The dog is also trained at being friendly with strangers and the handler, in this case the educator, who needs to be very in tune with the pet and know how to look out for its stress signals. 

The future of the program
The program has been a genuine success so far, and a helpful addition to the education and wellbeing of many students in New York. In fact, hundreds of other schools, says, have expressed their interest in joining the program and may be including it in their curriculum in the near future.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by P.S. 145 The Bloomingdale S... (@ps145m)

It seems like Mary’s little lamb may have a place in the classroom after all!

New Study Shows That Cuddling a Dog Enhances Wellbeing
12 Inspirational Quotes About Dogs
Good News About Dogs That’s Not Just For Pet Parents!