Animals Asia’s Professor Paws is an innovative programme that sees registered therapy dogs visit Chinese schools to teach children to overcome their fear of dogs, learn safety around dogs, responsible pet care and compassion for all animals. On a broader level, the programme is sculpting attitudes to dogs (and all animals) at a young age and teaching children the importance of kindness and compassion.
The basic programme consists of four structured one-hour lessons over four weeks, with the children graduating as “Pet Cadets”. In Hong Kong, the children also practise their English-speaking and literacy skills with a native English speaker in a fun environment.
Many of these children have never had the chance to touch a dog before their first Professor Paws class. Often in the first class they are terrified because they have simply had no experience of dogs, or their parents have instilled this fear in them, telling them not to touch dogs because they are dirty and dangerous.
Normally by the end of the second lesson most children are willing to walk, brush and feed the dogs. The fear is gone. By then, the children want to pat and hug the dogs. Some even cry when they have to say goodbye to their furry professor. The fact that the children have overcome their fear of dogs is empowering in itself. Teachers often say that the students have more confidence and because they are having such fun, even forget that they are actually speaking and learning.
Research has shown that dogs can be instrumental in improving the learning skills of a wide variety of children. Close interaction with dogs is proven to increase self-confidence and pro-social behaviour among students, while encouraging the development of compassion.
Started in Hong Kong in 1994, Animals Asia’s Professor Paws now also runs in schools in three mainland Chinese cities – Chengdu, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
Our canine professors also attend many promotional and community events, including large-scale events co-organised with the police in Chengdu and Guangzhou to encourage responsible pet ownership.