Now there is one more reason to get a dog for the kids: researchers from UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine reveal that Fido can help improve children’s reading ability. This finding was reported on “ABC World News.”
Every year, the nation’s top educators reveal the dismal fact that large numbers of school-age children continue to face significant difficulties when it comes to their reading ability. The problem plagues schools everywhere and seems to be a systemic failure to which many appear resigned. To rectify this epidemic and help children kick up their reading levels, many schools and educational programs started to use therapy dogs as children’s “reading friends.” The idea is that the kids read to their dogs, one on one, and, by speaking out loud, stick with the assignment and learn to read.
“From my personal experience I know how well kids react to therapy dogs,” says Joe Dwyer, dog trainer, motivational speaker and author of the new book Shelby’s Grace. “Dogs have an ability to keep children comfortable and concentrated. Dogs are attentive and like listening to the human voice. They easily adjust to children’s moods and needs. While dogs like to run and play, they can also enter into a quiet space and stay there when it’s necessary.”
In his book, Mr. Dwyer describes his remarkable odyssey with an abused pit bull named Shelby, whom he saved from a shelter. In return, she saved him from terrible depression and anxiety, and together they recovered their sense of purpose. Now Shelby is a certified therapy dog who helps people in difficult times.
Today, the popularity of and demand for programs that help children practice their reading skills with their furry friends are growing rapidly. Dogs come to schools and libraries regularly to help children improve their reading and communication skills as well as build up self-confidence.
Parents report positive results and improvements in their kids after these sessions and children can’t wait to see their reading partners again. There are several reasons dogs are a good influence on children and why canines are used in educational programs. Dogs can offer:
- Steady companionship
- Unconditional love
- Stress-free friendship
“Dogs are naturally non-judgmental and very accepting of humans,” says Mr. Dwyer. “They actually help to foster an environment that can make anybody very relaxed and not feel self-conscious. Having a dog lying beside a child while she or he reads is definitely a great confidence-booster. I hope dog-reading programs will continue to grow and get attention from our government. After all, our children are our future.”