PLEDG program bringing local students and therapy dogs together

Pilot program wrapping up at Standard Elementary

OILDALE, Calif. - A new program is being tested at a local elementary school, and it's bringing students and dogs together.

PLEDG, or Positivity, Leadership and Empathy in Dog Guardianship, is finishing up it's pilot program at Standard Elementary. It's running as an 8-week course, with twelve 4th and 5th graders taking part in the program. PLEDG integrates California state Common Core standards while also teaching students about dog training.

Liz Kover, lead educator for Marley's Mutts humane education and therapy dog program, says she hopes the pilot program will help launch the course into other schools.

"It's a curriculum that utilizes teaching kids about positive reinforcement dog training as a way of helping them become aware of their own behavior," Kover said.

The students are taught about caring for and training dogs, and Kover says the kids are learning things about themselves too.

"Basically a way of teaching kids how to behave and how to take care of themselves by using the dogs to teach those things," she said.

Standard Elementary says the students were chosen because of behavior issues or trouble in class, and principal Susan Denton says the program is helping the kids improve.

"We see them listening more, we see them paying attention in class, we see them making better choices on the playground," Denton said.

The Oildale school originally got the attention of Marley's Mutts by hosting a penny drive, with students donating to the dog rescue.

"In a low socioeconomic area, for students to bring in spare change to make this happen. They didn't know about the program, they thought they were donating," she said.

After students raised funds for the rescue, Marley's Mutts decided to implement the pilot program at Standard. They'll wrap up the 8-week course on Wednesday, when the students will tell their classmates about what they learned during an assembly.

"So not only are they learning ot treat dogs better, they're learning to treat one another and themselves better," Kover said.

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