Odin Our Nursery Dog



Have you met Odin at nursery? Odin is a cavapoo that comes to nursery on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, every week. A cavapoo is a cross between a Poodle and a King Charles Cavalier. They are both playful and affectionate breeds, which don’t tend to shed. He is hypoallergenic but no dog can be 100% hypoallergenic. However, he is bred from the most hypoallergenic breed, so may cause fewer symptoms in allergy sufferers. He is also very affectionate and loves a cuddle and a stroke!

Odin is my dog and I have been bringing him to nursery since I homed him at 10 weeks old. I researched and intentionally chose a cavapoo to be around children and the staff at nursery. He is a very sociable dog and loves the attention and interaction he gains from humans.

Pets bring comfort and companionship to some people. For some people having a cuddle or even a little stroke with a friendly dog can make them feel better if they are low or just need some comfort. In fact, research has been shown that just stroking a dog reduces stress levels and interacting with a dog increases levels of oxytocin (the feel-good hormone!). Some organisations who take part in mental health awareness, take visits from pets as therapy to support the people they are working with as part of their support network. It is becoming increasingly popular for childcare establishments, including schools and education, to bring a dog in to support the children and staff. They can support the schools to help children with their literacy skills and even encourage concentration in the classroom. For us, one of our aims was for children to become familiar with dogs, to learn how to behave around them and to gain the knowledge to care for them.

It is part of cultural capital that we close any gaps in the children’s learning. Not all families can have dogs, so therefore children can be unfamiliar with them. We also believe that children can benefit in other ways from regular interaction with animals. These ways include:

  • emotional regulation
  • increased understanding of responsibility
  • development of empathy

Many children also get great enjoyment out of caring for and interacting with animals.

Our over 3’s use Hunger Hills woods for forest school sessions, twice a day. This is a very popular dog walking destination, so the children are greeted daily by dogs. Some dogs we know by name, and they are always happy to greet us. The children know what to expect and how to behave around them.

From being in our baby room, the children will meet Odin. He has specific times to explore the rooms and outdoor areas with very close adult supervision. The children are encouraged from a young age to be calm, not to put their hand in his face or to pull his fur and tail. They are shown how to stroke him and once he has had a little smell they then know to leave him to explore the environment. In toddlers, they will try to chase him, but the staff educate the children that this is not what we do. The toddlers are very keen to stroke him and will frequently ask for him to come into their area. This is the age group where he is most popular!

We previously had a child with special educational needs who struggled to interact with their peers and the adults. Once they met Odin a few times, you could see a change in their behaviour. They would interact with Odin and even through Odin. It was lovely to see.

Equally, the staff enjoy Odin’s company. If they are feeling low, they know they can come for a cuddle or a stroke if that works for them. He is in the office most times but would gladly give anyone a cuddle or some attention if they need it. Some parents even come and say hello to him! Please feel free to meet him on the days he is in or even come for a cuddle if you need one!