Canine Comprehension

Canine Comprehension is an 8-week dog-assisted therapy program that supports students struggling with connection at school.

  • Tier:
    • Tier 1: Positive Mental Health Promotion
    • Tier 2: Early Intervention Cohort Specific Support
  • Type of intervention: Animal wellbeing programs
  • Strength of evidence: Level 3: Foundational and emerging evidence for program
  • Geographic location: The program is not available in Western Melbourne Wimmera South West and Barwon South West regions; Southern Melbourne South East region; Hume Moreland, Loddon Campaspe and Mallee North West regions or any of the North East regions.

Program description

The Canine Comprehension School Program is an 8 session therapy program assisted by dogs that aims to support students struggling with connection at school.

The 8-week program uses an assistance dog to cater for small groups that run for 50 minutes a week. Each program has specific learning content and mindfulness resources. Schools can choose from seven different therapy programs to best meet the needs of their students and includes the following:

  • Communication on the inside and out
  • Friendship and responsibility
  • Beyond lockdowns
  • Grief and loss
  • Reading tails
  • Our library community
  • Flexible thinking

The Dog for a Day program improves mental health outcomes of the whole school community. A Canine Comprehension Tutor and Dog team spend an entire school day visiting students who need their time most. This “drop-in” experience can be planned as a for a school-wide event, or a specific cohort of students.

Intended outcomes

  • Improve student interpersonal and social skills
  • Improve student emotion management
  • Enable better connections at school

Program details

Target audience
  • Primary school students - lower
  • Primary school students - upper
  • Secondary school students - lower
  • Secondary school students - upper
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • LGBTIQA+ students
  • Asylum seeker and refugee students
  • Students with a disability 
Program providerCanine Comprehension
Delivery mode
  • Face-to-face
  • Combination
  • One online session is available to make up a missed face-to-face session

Implementation considerations

  • Target population: Students in P-12 who have a broad spectrum of needs and personalities.
  • Program adaptability: Programs are written in a manner that allow tutors to change and amend the program to suit the needs of the group. Different program options allow schools to select the most relevant content for their students.
  • Staffing: One school staff member needs to be present for each session, observing and sometimes participating in the session.
  • Training requirements: There is no pre-requisite training. The use of a quiet room where there is enough space for the participants to sit in a large circle is required.
  • Factors to consider: Maximum of 10 students per group.
  • Australian context: The program has been developed and applied in Australia.


Item cost


Detailed cost

All 8 session programs are $3,200 inc. GST. This price is all inclusive for the 8-session program, materials etc, with up to 10 students per group.

Dog for a day is $920.00 per day, inc. GST.

Travel costs may need to be negated for regional areas.