Pooches have been used for therapeutic reasons before, whether it was lying down with sick children or comforting elderly adults living in nursing homes. But did you know that reading therapy dogs can help children improve their literacy skills?
According to LancasterOnline, the Milanof-Schock Library in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, has launched its own children’s reading program complete with therapy pooches, such as border collie Widget. Third-grader Abigal Horst has been reading to Widget for the last few months and has since become quite the bookworm.
The library’s Reading with Dogs program involves one-on-one time between pooches and kids, who take a book of their choice into a quiet area and read to their furry pals. Jan Betty, Milanof-Schock’s children and youth coordinator, explained that approximately 16 children come in weekly to participate.
“We get a lot of positive feedback from reading specialists and the parents,” Betty told LancasterOnline. “The concept behind it is that it takes the pressure off of the child. They’re not going to bark if you get a word wrong.”
Kids can struggle with their confidence when it comes to learning how to read, and having a friend to help them goes a long way. Psychology professor Debra Verdenburg-Rudy, Ph.D., stated that having a dog present lowers the children’s heart rates and blood pressure, improving their focus and determination to read.
New Dog Friendly Activities to Try
If you’ve made it this far in the article, it is clear that you are not in dire need of a reading therapy dog. However, if reading about reading therapy dogs made you yearn for a fun new activity for you and your pooch to try out, you might consider one of the following, as suggested by Active magazine:
- Kayaking: If you live near some accessible lakes and ponds, take your pooch out for a trip on the water (assuming they can swim). They can enjoy the new scenery and watch fish and other creatures swim under the kayak. Not to mention, you’ll get a nice arm and back workout from paddling around the water.
- Yoga: Deep breaths and long stretches aren’t strictly reserved for people, as dogs can get involved in yoga, too. Called Doga, it uses many of the same movements from traditional yoga, but tweaks them to include your four-legged pal. It can help you both feel very relaxed and even bring you closer together.
- Hiking: Long jaunts through hilly trails can be a great bonding experience for you and Fido. You’ll get to walk through the scenic mountains as your furry friend picks up new smells along the way.
Sign up for PetPlus today to start saving money on pet care accessories.