Toronto-area high school students are helping to train service dogs while picking up more than just grooming skills.

Seven puppies are currently being cared for by students who face extra challenges in the classroom at Humberview Secondary School in Caledon, Ont.

Students who take part in Canines in the Classroom earn credit in exchange with working with the dogs, which will eventually go to people with mobility issues.

Simar Vadwal, a Grade 10 student at Humberview, says that the puppy-based curriculum is helping her learn.

“I couldn’t focus on work and I would always be frustrated that I couldn't understand it,” she says of her school days before the program.

Canines in the Classroom started in 2005 and has spread to four schools. There are currently 35 dogs on loan from COPE Service Dogs in Barrie, Ont.

Peggy Lee, COPE’s director of program development, says the program aims to teach skills that students can apply at school, at home and in future careers.

Grade 10 student Alyssa Turnbull says the puppies provide more than just skills, however.

“If you are angry in your day and you come here, you’re just like happy and forget about everything else,” she says

Humberview principal Lionel Klotz says the program is inspiring for students. “They didn’t always look forward to coming to school, but now because they’re in this program,” he says, “(they) really love school,”

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Naomi Parness