Not only is it heart wrenchingly adorable to watch a small child read to your dog, but you’re helping out the community and you may make a new friend or two in the process!
Even though our furry best friends graduated from (or maybe dropped out of) training school, there’s never a bad time to read a book, or in this case- be read to. Across the nation, schools, libraries and private practices are lending a hand and providing young readers for our pups to be able to get their Captain Underpants or Dr. Seuss fix. Not only is it heart wrenchingly adorable to watch a small child read to your dog, but you’re helping out the community and you may make a new friend or two in the process!
In order for your pup to become a R.E.A.D. (reading education assistance dog), they’ll need to be suited for that type of thing. (This means your beloved hyper pup isn’t a good fit.) Despite my light hearted commentary, these are working animals. It takes about five months for a well suited therapy dog to become a R.E.A.D. role model, and then depending on your location, there may be many or just a few opportunities to hear what happens in the latest adventure of Captain Underpants. Handler training is required as well to make sure your R.E.A.D. team is prepared foar anything that may arise.
Each reading session will expose your pup to fifteen to thirty minutes of small human reading time. Reading sessions are normally one on one, in addition to the handler- so that both the dog and the child can be comfortable enough to enjoy their book(s). With the smallest of humans, the handler can read or guide the session as well. While the small child reminds your pup of the joys of reading and learning, they are also improving their own independent reading skills as well as their communication skills. Studies show that children who read to dogs vs. reading to peers have a higher percentage of increase to their reading scores. The dog and the child sit on a blanket or a bean bag, the dog will ‘listen’, my dog just naps, while the child reads to them, sometimes pausing to showcase pictures or learn new vocabulary. Who knows, your new reading friend may just introduce your four legged buddy to a new series that they can’t wait to finish
Studies show that children who read to dogs vs. reading to peers have a higher percentage of increase to their reading scores.
Even if your four legged friend isn’t a good fit for a reading dog, you can still get involved in the program through your local library. Encourage them to bring in a READ system or inquire as if there is a local chapter of reading therapy dogs. For more information you can visit the website.
On the opposite end of that spectrum, should you have a small human who wishes to read to dogs- there are some avenues for you to explore. Contact your local library for R.E.A.D. dog’s schedule. Or additionally, you can contact your local animal shelter. The shelter is a chaotic and scary place for many dogs. Time and interaction with people can help calm and socialize the animal. Many shelters have a read-in option in place, and if they don’t- hopefully they are open to suggestions.