Headlands School in Penarth has introduced a companion dog to one of its residential houses to improve young people's wellbeing.

Dexter, a 4-month-old King Charles Spaniel from Carmarthen, is owned by Vice Principal for Care, Maxine Cahill.

He lives at Pentir House, one of five residential homes on site, and is cared for by the young people who live there.

Maxine said: ‘Having a pet as a companion is widely accepted as a powerful aid to stimulation and communication.

"Studies have shown that the presence of companion animals can improve the well-being of children and lower the rate of anxiety, simply by making the environment happier, more enjoyable and less forbidding.

"We’ve been considering having a dog as a residential companion for some time and the response has been amazing across the whole school. Our young people love him, and the effects are already being felt by everyone."

Headlands School is an independent special educational school which offers day and residential placements for young peopled aged 7 to 19 who have experienced early trauma, complex emotional and social issues or who have Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Phil Preston, a 19 year old boy who lives at Pentir House alongside Dexter, said: "I absolutely love Dexter, he makes you forget all your worries and there’s nothing better than coming back to the house to get a brilliant welcome off him at the end of the day."

Alan Short, 17, who also cares for Dexter, said: ‘He’s settled in really well and we have loads of visitors wanting to see him.

"He makes me feel calmer and I enjoy looking after him.

"I love that Dexter always greets me excitedly when he sees me."

Headlands School is managed by the national charity, Action For Children (AFC).

It is the only ACF school of its kind in the UK.

For more information about the services provided at Headlands School, visit: https://www.headlandsschool.org.uk/ or contact: headlands.school@actionforchildren.org.uk