Dogs Help Children To Read

Every parent knows that reading skills are essential for a young child’s future success, whether that be in completing school successfully, getting into and finishing college or in the corporate or professional world. 

But what most parents don’t know is that having a child read in the presence of a dog can keep that child motivated to continue, even when the reading task is rather difficult.

In a compelling study by doctoral student Camille Rousseau from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan’s School of Education, seventeen children from the first to the third grade were asked to read aloud to an observer, to a dog handler and their dog, or to the dog handler without the dog.

The study found that when children read in the presence of a dog, regardless of the dog’s breed or age, they spent much more time reading and were able to persist with their task. Plus, the children themselves reported that they felt more interested in what they were doing and also more competent. 

Other studies have looked at how therapy dogs impact students’ reading ability but this is the first study to look at how students who had been assigned a challenging reading task would respond

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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