Frequently Asked Questions
What's the process?
If you enquire about a Therapy Dog with Bale's Buddies we follow up your enquiry with an initial consultation and then subsequently a full assessment and report (to ascertain your needs, breed and suitability). Afterwards we source a puppy from one of our trusted breeders. The puppy, once 8 weeks old will join your family allowing for the natural bond to form with your child/children. Following the puppy's vaccinations training will begin.
The training programme is tailored specifically to your requirements that were outlined at the assessment. Training takes approximately 2 years with weekly sessions and reports. The Bales Buddies team are always on hand to answer queries and progress is measured with regular feedback and assessments.
How can I apply for a Therapy Dog?
Please contact us via phone, email or via our Facebook page to discuss how Bale's Buddies Therapy Dogs can look to help you.
What sort of breeds do you work with?
We use larger breeds of dogs with temperaments suited for Therapy training. From experience we tend to use breeds such as Portuguese Water Dogs (as they have a hypo allergenic coat, to avoid aggravating any allergies), Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Larger dogs allow for aspects of training such as - deep pressure therapy and road safety that smaller dogs cannot provide.
Do we need to train the dog too?
Therapy Dog training is not waving a magic wand....Bale's Buddies needs you to follow the basics through at home too. When we deliver your puppy to you, you will receive a puppy pack. Inside the pack includes a set of basic commands that we follow, it makes your dog's life much easier if we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Training is great fun, many of families particularly enjoy some of the agility aspects. After each session with our trainers, you are provided with a concise report of what was covered, how the dog performed and if there are any areas needing focus.
Could you train our dog to be a Therapy Dog?
Bales Buddies tend to look on a case by case basis. Dependant on the breed of dog, it's age and your needs, we would need to carry out a full assessment including a temperament test on your dog.
How much does it cost?
As Bale's Buddies is a not for profit organisation, we only ask for a portion of the costs to be covered from our families. We appreciate that it is still an expense, however following the deposit the cost is spread across monthly payments over 2 years.
If your question is not listed here, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us either by using the form below, by phone, email or via our Facebook page.
Below are some FAQs compiled from one of the Schools we collaborate with:
Is the School suitable for a dog?
The school setting will be evaluated by Bale's Buddies as part of the assessment process. The School's risk manager will need to be consulted to ensure they are happy for a dog to be in school.
Who will care for the dog in school?
The dog will need people to handle and support it in school, a number of staff will have to agree to take this on. A dog will never be left alone with students. The dog will also get regular (twice weekly) training from Bale's Buddies professionals so that in two years it will be a trained Therapy Dog.
Will some children be scared of the dog?
Some children may be scared, this is part of the reason to get a dog; to help children to become more confident. No child, or adult, will be made to go near the dog. Also, children will be taught how to understand dog behaviour and how to behave near an animal.
Who wants the dog?
The head, governors, senior leaders, teaching staff and support staff are normally all supportive. Parent feedback is normally extremely positive with a handful of who may be less sure. Research shows the positive impact that School Therapy Dogs can bring to the education environment.
Where will the dog be toileted?
The dog will be toileted off-site and the adult responsible will clean up after it.
Could the dog cause illnesses?
The dog will be a ‘hypoallergenic’ breed so people with allergies will not be affected. The dog will have all the proper care in terms of inoculations and anti flea treatments. Children will be taught to always wash their hands after any contact with the dog.
Will the dog get tired, especially when it is young?
There will be a quiet, child-free space for the dog to rest for significant periods during the school day. There will be a structured and planned timetable for the dog. This will be planned and adapted by Bale's Buddies professional trainers. The dog’s wellbeing will never be compromised.
Will the dog go everywhere in the school?
Some areas of school may be unsuitable for a dog; it will not go to these spaces.
How will the dog be paid for?
The school understands the costs associated with the dog and who will be responsible for them. The cost will not come out of school funds.
What about insurance?
The school will make appropriate insurance arrangements to cover the dog and its activities in school. The insurance for the dog’s health will be covered by its owner.
What about the risks involved?
The school will have a detailed risk assessment.
What if the dog is sick?
There will be a back-up plan in place to care for the dog when it cannot attend school (eg if he/she is unwell).
What will the dog do all day?
To begin with the dog will be on a minimal timetable as it will be being trained; some of this training will take place in school. In the future, the dog may be in the school playground to greet the children, it may be in class when children are reading, it may support individual children if there is a need, it may be outside for some playtimes, PE lessons and any forest school sessions. It may join after-school club and breakfast club, although not when snacks are being eaten.
Who will look after it during the holidays and at weekends?
The owner of the dog will look after it, normally a member of the teaching staff.
Will the dog distract from the education of my child?
No, the dog will be there as a Therapy Dog. When the dog first arrives it is likely to cause much excitement but school and all staff are focussed on children’s learning. The dog will be there to support this.
Will the dog bite my child?
The dog is an animal and all animals (even children) can bite. However, no Bale's Buddies Therapy Dog has ever bitten a child. School will ensure through careful, considered planning, that this will hopefully never happen.