Beaudesert State High School students train therapy dogs

Beaudesert State High is trialling a new program which involves rescued dogs.

School guidance officer Thomas Cleary said the program was a form of pet therapy which allowed the students to build their confidence and self- esteem whilst assisting rescued animals who had been given a second chance.

"Program sessions are based around various interventions," he said.

"Students undertake activities to help them learn strategies for managing their thoughts, feelings and behaviours and the therapy animal plays a big role in assisting students' to learn about topics such as behaviour management, mood, anxiety, learning, social skills, self-esteem and empathy."

The program is run by respected trainer Suzanne Phillips from animal behaviour counselling firm Animism.

Ms Phillips said she started the program at a school on the Gold Coast two years ago and the hour-long sessions at Beaudesert State High School had been running since last year.

"It's so rewarding to see the change in children as they learn to work with the dogs and their confidence grows," she said.

"We have room for up to six kids to work with the dogs on a weekly basis."

Ms Phillips said most of the dogs were rescue animals and included Flint the border collie X kelpie, Cara the poodle, Rover the daschund, Violet the pomeranian, Cale the chihuahua cross and Shadow the border collie X English springer spaniel.

Mr Cleary said the program helped students learn about coping strategies through a basic curriculum of how to train and care for an animal - in this case dogs.

"They achieve a sense of helping these dogs and then are able to share their knowledge with others and are encouraged to practice the skills at home with their own pets," he said.