The RCS Wellness Dog program is a district-wide initiative to support students' social-emotional health with the presence of wellness dogs in our schools. It is comprised of select dogs which have met criteria for temperament and behavior specific to the duties of a wellness dog. The work of the dogs’ handlers is voluntary, as they regularly bring their dogs with them to their schools for offering canine companionship that assists with the overall well-being of students.
Social-emotional wellness animals have a positive effect on students by providing emotional comfort and fostering a sense of calmness. Various research has found that the presence of and interaction with wellness dogs can impact one's social connection, behavior, and emotional regulation. Specifically, contact with a wellness dog can:
- Assist with promoting positive attitudes towards school and learning, which can improve school performance.
- Lower the release of cortisol, which causes stress and anxiety, and can elicit the release of endorphins and oxytocin - hormones associated with joy and happiness. This improves overall mood and increases the ability for having positive social interactions.
- Create a relaxed environment, which can foster a sense of safety and security in people of all ages: children, adolescents, and adults.
- Encourage students to show kindness, consideration, and selflessness, which can carry forward even after the interaction with a wellness dog has ended.
As the presence of a wellness dog becomes the norm over time, these benefits can increase among students to a point where being friendly, thoughtful, and caring is naturally embedded in day-to-day relationships, becoming a part of the school culture. The difference that the presence of wellness dogs has made in our schools has been visible among our students, staff, and our RCS community as a whole.
Meet Our Dogs:
Show your support of the RCS Wellness Dogs with the purchase of a t-shirt or sticker!
Your purchase goes to help support the work or our dogs throughout our district.
Order online here. Shirts available in sizes SM- XXXL.