Therapy dogs are being employed to help reluctant readers gain confidence. Read on to find out how it works.

Therapy dogs for reluctant readers, also knows as read dogs, are the subject of Sally Key’s fascinating guest post. Read on to learn about the many benefits therapy dogs can offer our children who struggle to read fluently.

Pawfect Listeners

Learning to read is an essential skill, but unfortunately while developing the fundamental building blocks, the task offers numerous setbacks, which can dishearten many children. Fantastic innovations are now in place, offering alternative strategies in assisting children with this process. There is increased recognition of the benefits of therapy dogs for children with special needs or learning difficulties.

The dogs are able to assist in meeting the needs of these children in an unconditional and natural way that promotes the positives of reading. Therapy dogs have been used for some time and there is a growing appreciate of initiatives such as Read to Rover. This program encourages children to attend libraries to experience a one-to-one reading session with a dog. Parents are reporting that their previously reluctant-to-read children can’t wait to attend the library for these sessions. There are plans moving forward that this program will extend to assist children in a classroom setting.

Read Dogs

Sometimes referred to as read dogs, these calm and patient animals are non-judgemental listeners. There give no corrections or interruptions, allowing the child to read at their own pace. In a classroom or small group setting, the dog will naturally become the focus of attention, allowing the reader space and time away from criticism or any negativity sometimes found in this setting. Cultivating confidence in the reader is paramount and there is documented evidence that there are many other positive effects on children.

Scary School

School life presents a myriad of experiences and opportunities for children. These in themselves can be daunting. Spending time with a dog is well known to help reduce anxiety and improve confidence. Reduced reading anxiety is one of a number of positive outcomes documented by allowing the dog to help children read. The benefits even extend to better social interactions outside of the classroom, following on from a reading therapy session. Increased exposure to positive experiences are proven to help develop confidence, which is especially crucial with young children. Becoming more confident with reading is an essential stepping stone that in turn allows children to progress faster academically and personally. This enables children to hopefully become more excited in entering school and learning. Biologically, interactions with dogs have been shown to reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.


Allowing a child to spend time reading with a dog present has so many benefits for all concerned. For children who are more advanced, the non-judgemental dog allows them to play with their reading. Children who are struggling can potentially find new hope. The wide and far reaching positives brought on by increased confidence in reading and education are factors that all parents and teachers aspire to.

Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She moved from a corporate job to freelancing and loves the work-life balance it offers. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling.

Therapy dogs are being employed to help reluctant readers gain confidence. Read on to find out how it works.

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