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Reading Therapy Dogs

Boomer Goes To SchoolThere is now a new kind of therapy dog, called READ – Reading Education Assistance Dogs.

Children who are having trouble reading are getting help from these dogs. Dogs are good listeners and are not critical, so kids like to read to them.

According to USA Today:

For years, besides being companions, dogs have been trained to help the blind, sniff for explosives and provide a soothing calm for hospital patients. Now they’ve found a niche as listeners.

Feel-good folly? No way, said Kathy Brake, the principal at Washington Grove. For schools to raise reading scores, children must improve in pronouncing and comprehending words. So first, she said, some kids must learn to relax and enjoy reading.

The kids don’t question whether the dogs are listening. They assume it.

When Robin Kirk runs her READ lessons at Chevy Chase Elementary in Maryland, some of her students ask if her dog, Scout, has any questions for them. One child brought in four books and asked Scout to pick the one he wanted. Kirk went with the one Scout put his nose on.

The idea is catching on.

The number of dog-and-owner reading teams in schools, libraries and other sites totals more than 750 in 45 states, according to Intermountain Therapy Animals, the Utah-based non-profit that created the program. That’s up from less than 100 registered teams in early 2004.

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I think this is a great idea. And why only use it in school? If your child needs practice reading, maybe having your child read to the dog would work out great!