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Burns By Your Side Application

Reading Dogs in Schools

Your dog’s temperament and behaviour are very important when working with children. We have developed an assessment and training pathway that meets the recommended guidelines for working as a learning support dog in a school setting.

We are looking for some very special volunteers that…

  • can volunteer each week/fortnight to visit a school or special nurturing unit
  • Are good-natured, presentable and enjoy working with children of all age groups
  • can volunteer additional time for ongoing training, supervision and group development sessions throughout the year
  • have access to reliable transport to visit a school in your locality and occasional visits to Burns HQ, Carmarthenshire, for training/development sessions.
  • have simple computer literacy skills with the facility to communicate by email and a Facebook group (we can help you set up this up)

Certain levels of obedience and behaviour are required from your dog but full training will be given.

1. Application Form and Introductory meeting

If you and your dog fulfil the criteria, we will arrange an initial meeting for you to understand the scheme a little more, discuss your volunteering desires and see if your dog will be comfortable in his/her volunteering role.

2. Training Standards

Your dog must have passed The Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze and Silver Award at your local dog training centre. Training must have been completed within last 2 years.


Burns by Your Side Preparation workshops – 6 weekly sessions taking place in West Wales, delivered by qualified dog trainers at dedicated centres. Daytime and evening classes are available. Venue and workshop details will be emailed following initial assessment. These courses are competitively priced and are designed to further develop your bond with your dog while meeting the required Burns by Your Side training standards, in a gentle, fun and encouraging way. Our team is committed to using force free positive training methods.

3. BBYS Placement Training: 2-day workshop free of charge

Once you have met the required standard for dog temperament and training, we will equip you with everything you need to be comfortable and safe in your new volunteer role. We will arrange insurance, safeguarding training and undertake a DBS check where appropriate (Child Protection Training and Garda Vetting process in Ireland).

4. Mentoring and Support

We will support you in finding the school, library or education setting of your choice. We will meet with the Head to organise the agreement. We will arrange and attend a meet and greet assembly to introduce you and your dog to the school. We will accompany and help you with your first live reading session.

5. Part of the BBYS family

Once you have successfully completed all the above stages, you and your dog will be a fully qualified “Burns by Your Side, Reading Team and a member of the BBYS family. Our support doesn’t end there. We are always around to help and arrange regular get-togethers and information sessions. We have a closed Facebook page for everyone to keep in touch with each other and share inspiring stories.

Get in touch

For more information on our Burns By Your Side Reading Dogs Scheme please get in touch.

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