Why Reading Benefits Dogs and Kids Too
As if you needed another reason to love dogs, it turns out that they can help your child become a better reader. Kids who struggle to read or genuinely dislike it are usually much more willing to participate in reading exercises if you throw a cuddly companion into the mix. The dogs benefit, too, as this kind of interaction can lower stress for them. There are many positive outcomes when kids read to dogs. Read on to find out why reading benefits dogs and kids too.
Dogs need lots of socialization to become good canine citizens. Exposing a dog to a wide variety of environments and people helps him become more confident and less fearful, which is especially true of shelter dogs. Animal shelters are scary places for some dogs, but those who cower in the back of their kennels struggle to find adopters. When kids read to dogs, the dog learns to associate the presence of people with safety, love, and affection, making them more comfortable around humans.
Improved Skill and Confidence
Practice makes perfect, but many children hate reading aloud and try to avoid it — especially if they read slowly, struggle to understand, or trip over words. Unlike a child’s classmates, however, a dog won’t judge the child’s mistakes or laugh at him. Instead, she’ll calmly listen to the child and enjoy their company. The social pressure of reading for a class is lifted. As such, practicing with a furry companion helps kids associate reading with fun rather than teasing. When reading becomes fun, kids do it more often, improving both their skill and confidence along the way.
Several studies show that being around a dog reduces your blood pressure, increases cardiovascular health, and no doubt makes you laugh more, reducing both the mental and physical effects of stress on the body. The reverse is also true. Shelter dogs who interact with humans after their arrival at the shelter have lower levels of stress hormones than those who do not, which means kids who read to dogs lower their own stress level and the dog’s too.
If you have a dog at home, your child can certainly read to her. If you don’t, look for a dog reading program in your community or consider starting one. In many areas, individual or corporate sponsorships pay for the dogs’ care so that they can go out into the world and help kids learn to read at libraries, schools, and community centers. Some dog shelters ask kids to come and read to their dogs as well. Participating in one of these programs is a great way to teach your children about charitable organizations while expanding their social circle.
Everybody wins when kids read to dogs. Taking your child to read to a dog or taking your dog out to hear a good story benefits everyone involved. And this is why reading benefits dogs and kids too. It’s a great way to get involved and to give back, so grab a book and find a dog to read to today. You’ll be glad you did.
“Intelligent Canine: Why Reading Benefits Dogs and Kids Too”
Guest Writer: Lizzie Weakley (see BIO below)
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