Groodle makes a difference

Meet Arlo: the gentle giant enriching the lives of students and staff at Gordon Primary School. Being a Golden Retriever X Poodle, he stands large and tall, but has a temperament of the most tender kind. Arlo is the school’s certified wellbeing dog, aiming to support and comfort everyone on campus.  

Prep students drawing beside a relaxed Arlo. Photo: Maja Zdero

Wellbeing dogs can help enhance learning through creating a safe space for many individuals, as they are able to reduce anxiety and stress levels, according to Dogs Connect.  

Arlo was just a puppy when he was first introduced to the classroom over a year ago, and has become a valued and much-loved member of the local community.  

Through scheduled lessons with Arlo, students of all ages are able to interact with him during class.  

Stacey Castles, prep teacher at Gordon Primary School, has noticed the impact Arlo has had on students.  

“Particularly with the preps, when they have separation anxiety from their parents, Arlo is a massive help … especially coming back from Covid, some kids couldn’t even get out of the car, kids who had never really had those signs of behaviour before, so Arlo is always on gate duty in the mornings greeting the kids,” she said.  

As well as preps, years 1-6 also experience the calming effect that Arlo has, through interacting with him in teaching lessons, or even outside playing in the yard.  

“We offer to have him sit with them, and sometimes he just takes their mind off what is happening … if they are having anxiety or have an issue, he definitely helps calm the kids down, he often just fully drapes himself over them, especially when he sees if they are upset,” Ms Castles said. 

Physical contact with dogs has been scientifically proven to increase levels of serotonin, leading to greater feelings of happiness, according to Psychology Today.  

Wellbeing dogs are becoming increasingly popular among schools, due to their positive impact on the wellbeing of students.  

Through Arlo’s soothing nature and alleviating effect on people, the Gordon Primary School community has benefited immensely from their furry friend lending a helping hand.  



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