Who we are

Canine Assisted Learning provides Animal Assisted Interventions and Activities to Schools and private settings. CAL was founded five years ago by Victoria Plumer an animal assisted therapist with a background in equine and dog training; equine assisted therapy; behaviour management to young people with social emotional and behaviour difficulties along with learning support. Her experiences came together and created a vision to utilise the amazing therapeutic power of animals to support young people in their learning and development. CAL works with a team of like minded experienced consultants all with a passion to improve the lives of young people with the use of our highly trained school support dogs. We work with a team of Senior Teachers, therapists and a behaviour management specialist to ensure we maintain our high standards are and at the forefront of Animal Assisted interventions in schools across the UK. We are proud of the quality of service we offer, working seamlessly in schools with a holistic approach working closely with other consultants and school staff including Occupational Therapy, Speech and language Therapy and school councillors . We have carried out some joint sessions with the latter with outstanding results.

About Canine Assisted Learning - canineassistedlearning.com

Our team have achieved consistent positive results in increasing literacy in reluctant and struggling readers along with improving positive behaviour and providing a therapeutic and calming working environment, for some examples of our work please see our results page


What are Animal-Assisted Interventions and Animal-Assisted Activities?

Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) involve the use of specifically chosen animals in a range of activities or interactions with people. These interventions are designed to meet particular goals as part of individualised planning. Progress is monitored and reviewed.
For example, to improve a pupil’s literacy skills our team liaises with the child’s teacher to measure the young person’s reading age before working with them on a 1:1 basis, targeting their specific difficulties and making the most of our dog’s unique abilities. We then evaluate our progress at regular intervals, usually each half-term. We have had excellent results here, with pupils who previously refused to read increasing two reading-ages in just a single half term.

Photo of a boy and a dog- About Canine Assisted Learning - canineassistedlearning.comAnimal-assisted activities (AAA) do not have specific objectives for individuals, instead provide all-round improvements that positively affect social,
emotional and physical well-being and raise the general quality of life of participants.

For children who find it difficult to remain in the classroom our presence can have dramatic benefits. They naturally desire to spend time with our dog and so access far more learning than they normally would. This also helps to create a stable environment for the rest of the class. Extra time with the dog can also be used as a reward for tasks completed or positive behaviour choices.

The History of Animal-Assisted Therapy

Photo of a boy and a dog - About Canine Assisted Learning - canineassistedlearning.comThe earliest documented studies into AAT took place in 18th century England when animals were used as a socialisation medium for mentally ill patients, “awakening the social and benevolent feelings” of the inmates. The animals were recognised as non-judgmental, calming influences that helped to reduce stress and anxiety.

Sigmund Freud believed that dogs had a ‘special sense’ that allows them to judge a person’s character accurately—his dog attended all of his therapy sessions. Freud believed that the animal’s presence had a calming influence on all of his patients, especially the children. Similarly, in the early 1960s, Dr. Boris Levinson reported a new step forward in animal-assisted therapy when he found that withdrawn and uncommunicative children would interact more encouragingly whenever he brought his dog, Jingles, to their therapy sessions.

The Human-Animal Bond

The human-animal bond refers to the strong positive interaction that exists between humans and animals.

The positive impact of this bond is not only considerable but also backed up by scientific data, case studies and hard research—all validating the therapeutic effects of human-animal relationships. These benefits can be emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual and work particularly well in educational environments.

Utilising the human-animal bond in the classroom is crucial to the animal-assisted interventions and activities that CAL offers and often yields amazing results.

“A child who is exposed to the emotional experiences inherent in playing with a pet is given many learning opportunities that are essential to wholesome personality development. His play with the pet will express his view of the world, its animals, and its human beings, including his parents and peers.”

– Boris Levinson –

CAL proudly works with…..

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animal assisted intervention international logo - About Canine Assisted Learning - canineassistedlearning.com       Society for companion animal studies logo - About Canine Assisted Learning - canineassistedlearning.com


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