Who has the liability for the dog?2019-01-15T10:14:01-05:00

Your school or your department of education holds the liability.

How does a school deal with allergies?2019-01-15T10:12:49-05:00

School letters are sent home explaining the program and giving the parent the option to opt out.

Our school is not in NYS, can we be part of the Mutt-i-grees School Dog Program?2019-01-15T10:15:12-05:00

Yes, North Shore Animal League America has over 2000 shelter partners across the country. We have set a protocol for our Mutt-i-grees Program that we will help your school to facilitate. For more information contact: [email protected].

I would like to be part of the NYC DOE Comfort Dog Program.2019-01-15T10:09:58-05:00

You must apply to the program through the NYC DOE by emailing: [email protected].

There is a waiting list.

Are there any employment, volunteer or internship opportunities available?2018-06-25T20:07:11-04:00

Employment opportunities are posted on the Career section of the North Shore Animal League’s website; we hire staff as needed.

Volunteer opportunities exist through the Animal League Volunteer Program.

Student (grades 6-12) Internship programs are available upon request by educators in schools participating in the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum. To find out more information, please contact Jayne Vitale.

Can we receive professional development training? Is there a fee?2018-06-25T20:01:26-04:00

We encourage administrators to host Mutt-i-grees professional development training to support staff development and promote Mutt-i-grees activities within your particular school. For more information, please visit our Training and Events page.

Can I become a Mutt-i-grees trainer?2018-06-25T19:57:38-04:00

A select number of educators serve as national trainers.

To be eligible to join The Mutt-i-grees National Trainers Team, you must have the following qualifications:

  • Implemented the Curriculum for at least two years;
  • Minimum 5 years of experience as a teacher, administrator, or school counselor;
  • Ability to travel;
  • Demonstrated experience in public speaking; and
  • Ability to attend a 2-day National Trainers Training at our headquarters in Port Washington, NY.

If you are interested, please send a cover letter and your resume to [email protected].

Can the Curriculum be implementing in any subject and grade level?2018-06-25T19:43:48-04:00

The Curriculum may be implemented in a number of settings: As part of an already established subject area (e.g. language arts, health), during advisory periods, preschool, afterschool, character education, or service learning programs. The Curriculum can be used in mainstream, inclusion, or special education classrooms, and is designed to accommodate students who have autism as well as other behavioral and developmental differences.

How can I involve parents?2018-06-25T19:41:34-04:00

You can involve parents in many ways. You may consider sending letters home to parents informing them about the Curriculum and some of the planned activities (sample letters are included in the Curriculum). Your school can host informational sessions or presentations for parents before beginning the Curriculum and invite parents to participate in lessons during the school day. You can also inform the parents about Mutt-i-grees At Home – a resource to help parents and children become more aware, confident, and effective. It offers busy parents and caregivers helpful information focused specifically on them — ideas and pointers to help them be their children’s best role models.

Where can I find more information or ideas?2018-06-19T19:53:56-04:00

You can find more information or ideas on our blog, as well as social media. They are a continuous source of additional information and resources. They also provide opportunities to ask for and share ideas. There is also a resource section in each of the kits.

Who is eligible to order the Curriculum?2018-06-19T19:51:20-04:00

Schools, afterschool programs, PreK/childcare programs, some behavioral health organizations working with children with special needs may also order the Curriculum.

Mutt-i-grees in the Library is a specific adaptation of the Curriculum, used by libraries or children’s museums.

Is implementation expensive?2018-06-19T19:50:10-04:00

No. In addition to the low cost of the Curriculum, the materials required are generally available in any classroom, and the books and additional resources can be found in local libraries. Trips to animal shelters, however, may incur a small cost per student.

Is implementation time consuming?2018-06-19T19:49:04-04:00

Each lesson takes approximately 30 minutes to implement. Our goal is to provide a variety of options from which teachers can select; hence, there is no need to implement all of the activities presented in each lesson.


Lessons are implemented at least once a week and there are 25 lessons in each of the binders. When implementing the lessons, remember that the sequence presented is intentional and should be followed; implementing lessons at random is unlikely to have positive outcomes and may also result in loss of student interest. However, once all lessons are implemented, teachers may select to go over any of the lessons to reinforce a particular skill.

Can cat-related activities be used?2018-06-19T19:47:24-04:00

Many educators – and children –  love cats and cat related activities may be substituted. Some of these activities may be found in a special kit: Cats Are Mutt-i-grees 2.

Some students and teachers are afraid of dogs. How is this addressed in the Curriculum?2018-06-19T19:45:32-04:00

Fear of dogs can often be traced to a bad experience with a dog, which students may be helped to overcome, gradually. In a whole school approach to implementation of the Curriculum, teachers who expressed a fear of dogs were helped in the same way. In fact, some students and teachers have reported that using the Curriculum helped ease their fear of dogs within the first few months of implementation.

Some students are allergic to dogs. Can they participate?2018-06-25T19:33:58-04:00

Yes, since the presence of a dog is not required, all students may participate. When a dog is visiting the class or when the class visits an animal shelter, students who are allergic may be excused and referred to shelter websites and other online resources.

What makes the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum different than other social and emotional programs?2018-06-19T19:39:32-04:00

·       It bridges SEL with humane education. The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum bridges humane education and social-emotional learning, building on children’s natural affinity for pets and providing a real-life context within which to teach social and emotional skills. Children learn about shelter pets while also acquiring skills that support their ability to cope with stress, attain self-confidence and empathy, and learn to collaborate and make informed decisions.

·       It is an experiential, play-based approach, building on the notion that children learn by doing. Each lesson includes an educational/developmental objective, with hands-on activities, books, and games focusing on shelter pets. Another unique aspect to the Curriculum is that it includes out-of-school time (OST) adaptations and comprehensive support for community engagement.

·       It uses a whole-child approach, incorporating social, emotional, cognitive, and physical activities.

·       It is comprehensive and adaptable. All grade levels from PreK to Grades 12 are included in four separate binders: PreK-Grade 3; Grades 4-6; Grades 7-8; and Grades 9-12. These may be used as part of character education or specific initiatives such as behavioral interventions or bullying prevention. The Curriculum is often used on its own – some educators implement Mutt-i-grees Mondays, for example.

·       It is a universal program suitable for all children, but because of its focus on canine-assisted activities, it is also effectively used with children with autism and developmental disorders and other special needs.

·       It is based on canine-assisted activities. Students think that the focus on dogs – in particular – shelter dogs – is fun but there are serious benefits to canine-assisted activities. Studies have shown that when children are in the presence of a dog, or when they are thinking about dogs, they are calm and happy and more receptive to positive social interactions. What’s behind these positive benefits? Researchers believe it has to do with such neuro-hormones as oxytocin!

Is the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum evidence-based and was it evaluated?2018-06-25T19:54:54-04:00

The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is based on empirical studies on social and emotional learning and on the benefits on canine-assisted activities. YES! We conducted both implementation and outcome studies which are both essential aspects of evaluation.

Implementation studies revealed that the majority (79%) of teachers use the program at least once a week and are doing it with fidelity, implementing the lessons in the sequence provided in the binder.

Outcome studies were conducted with more than 800 students in schools in rural and low-income urban communities. The studies randomly assigned some classrooms to receive the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum and included student and educator surveys on school climate, as well as behavior, empathy, and parent involvement measures. Comparing students in classrooms using the Curriculum with students in non-Curriculum classrooms, we found:

  • Significantly higher levels of empathy and pro-social behaviors among students;
  • Significantly higher levels of positive school climate (linked to bullying prevention) and parent involvement; and
  • Significantly higher awareness and understanding of shelter dogs and dog behavior among teachers and students in classrooms using the Curriculum.

In addition, school principals reported reduced incidences of bullying and classroom conflict and noted that the positive impact of the Curriculum extends to teachers as well.

Read the full evaluation here.

How do I change my email address or mailing address?2018-05-09T14:52:52-04:00

You can easily update your email address or mailing address by logging into your account and clicking on “My Profile.” You can also email us at [email protected].

How do I removed myself from your email list?2018-05-09T14:28:57-04:00

You can unsubscribe directly from the bottom of any email message sent to you from Mutt-i-grees; or you can send us an email at [email protected].

Does the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum require a live dog in the classroom?2018-06-25T19:22:06-04:00

No it does not. A unique aspect of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is the focus on Mutt-i-grees, or shelter dogs. However, the Curriculum does not require the presence of a dog in the classroom. Each of the lesson plans includes activities designed to: 1) enhance students’ social and emotional competence and resiliency; and 2) raise awareness of shelter pets. We know from the research that engaging in  activities that focus on thinking about dogs is as interacting with a live dog; it commands students’ attention and contributes to improves students’ behavior  and interest in school and promotes positive social interactions.

The majority of schools using the lesson plans in the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum simply using canine-themed activities.  Some schools may have class visits to an animal shelter, or they   invite shelter staff to an assembly. A few schools have a school dog – sometimes also referred to as a comfort dog or a wellness dog. The school dog does not necessarily participate in the  Mutt-i-grees lessons, but is available for students to see and interact with during the school day.

How is the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum being used?2018-06-25T19:53:46-04:00

The lessons are didactic is a positive way. The research has shown that in social and emotional learning, a didactic approach with highly scripted lessons is a way of providing teacher training, In the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, the discussion sections are scripted to enable easy implementation. Teachers may simply read the script prior to the lesson, and then proceed to use their own words when teaching.

Each lesson plan also includes role playing and hands-on activities as well as suggested readings and vocabulary words.  Teachers may select from these, depending on their teaching styles. They may also add their own activities. Song and dance, art, and writing activities provide opportunities for creative expression and collaboration. Specific activities for parents ensure that families have opportunities to participate and follow up on what their children are experiencing in the classroom.

Lessons are available in a three-ring binder and also digitally. The digital lessons expand on what is in the binder, providing links to suggested readings and resources as well as additional activities and Power Point Presentations for some of the lessons.

What is being taught?2018-06-25T19:52:34-04:00

The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum teaches social and emotional skills by focusing on raising awareness of shelter pets. Hence it is unique in the bridging humane education and the field of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). The notion underlying SEL is that being socially and emotionally competent leads to school success and numerous large-scale studies have proven the link between SEL and academic achievement. Each of the 25 lesson plans includes an educational objective and when implemented in sequence, students learn critical skills that will help them in their interactions with people (and animals) in school, at home, and later in life the workplace. The lessons are presented in five units: Achieving AwarenessFinding FeelingsEncouraging EmpathyCultivating Cooperation, and Dealing with Decisions.

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