Reading to Dogs



When I first saw this event, my reaction was “you’ve got to be joking” I thought it was the epitome of an over precious pet owner taking the whole “furbaby” concept a step too far! However, when I clicked on the site I realised that it is an incredibly clever programme designed to help reluctant readers gain confidence in reading out loud.

This particular programme is is run by the Christchurch City Library service. It is

designed to provide a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere which encourages children to practice their reading skills and develop a love of reading.

All the dogs are rescue-dogs owned by  members of the Christchurch City Council Animal Control team. They

have all been trained and tested for health, safety and temperament.

This programme is held at various libraries throughout the city after school.  Caregivers book a 15 minute block for their child to come and read out loud to the dog. The dogs are quietly supervised at all times by the trainer. The theory behind the programme is that the dogs:

– Can increase a child’s relaxation while reading
– Listen attentively
– Do not laugh, judge or criticise
– Allow children to proceed at their own pace
– Can be less intimidating than a child’s peers

Reading aloud is a vital part of a child learning to read. However, children with difficulties become nervous and flustered when reading in front of their cohort. It has  been discovered that sitting and reading to a friendly dog, helps to dissipate a child’s fear of being judged or laughed at. Gradually, the child’s reading level and confidence improves and reading becomes a much more enjoyable experience.

Bravo to the Christchurch libraries for implementing this great programme. I have heard of it been used in schools who have remedial reading programmes too. I think it is amazing!

Just saying!

Yoroshiku Onegai shimasuimages (1)



14 responses to “Reading to Dogs

  1. Hello!A topic close to my heart 😊
    Last year, I had come and visit my students who require support in their learning. They read extracts from their journals to Nala and Mo. They learnt all about safety around dogs and generally had to make conversation with the handlers.
    So in our case it was motivation to write in order to read. However, the greatest benefit in the end was the talking. We forget that talking generates ideas, expands our horizons and gives us confidence. The handlers shared similar life experiences to the ones the heard about in the journals and there was lots to talk about dogs and pets.
    The pleasure that some of out higher needs students gained from meeting the dogs tugged at your heart strings.
    I am hoping our junior school will find an excuse to bring them back again. If not, I certainly will!!

    Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2016 06:23:22 +0000


    • Your comments and the video I found really helpful. I would love to see more skills being taught around dogs (especially where children are concerned) but I am particularly pro having dogs as ‘companions’ for elderly New Zealanders and their benefits to the elderly. This programme of readings to dogs is fabulous! Well done Christchurch City Council!!

      Liked by 1 person

        • We’ve done something similar with my husbands dad – he looks after our dog (Jack Russell/foxy cross) during the day as she hates being on her own. They adore each other and I’m sure she’s one of the reasons he gets out of bed each morning. They are so good for each other, and I think the relationship is incredibly beneficial for both him and the dog. Would like to see more elderly people have the same opportunity to look after an animal during the day but not have the responsibility of owning a pet if they don’t want to. Also my mum was in a rest home where they had canine visitors on occasion & the residents loved the dogs. I want to think about this some more. Take care & I hope things go well for your dad, Ruth 🙂


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