Kids Get Over Anxiety while Reading to Rover

Veterinary researchers say dogs can give children confidence and help them become better readers.

With schools returning to session, some pet parents might be surprised to learn tutors can come on four legs as well as two.

Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Boston say dogs can be the nonjudgmental, supportive presence some kids need as they learn to read. In a study, Dr. Lisa Freeman and fellow researchers found that being able to interact with a dog actually increased retention in a summer reading program. Though the study was short-lived and included only 18 elementary school students, the results also suggested the dogs had positively influenced reading scores.  

“Dogs are such good listeners,” said Dr. Freeman, a Tufts University veterinarian who spoke to ABC News about the study. “They really make reading a fun and pleasant experience for a child in what might otherwise be a challenging environment.”

More libraries and schools are turning to dogs to help children get over their anxiety about reading. As Arizona’s Pima County Public Library states on its website, “Animals are ideal reading companions because they create a relaxed, comfortable and safe environment.”

In one reading program at New York Public Library, children read to dogs who are trained to provide support with a gentle nudge or a paw placed on the page when children struggle.

At West Palm Beach Library in Florida, Youth Services Manager Jennifer Roddick said the library’s Dog Tales  program, in which youngsters read to dogs, has become quite a hit.

“It’s very unlike a classroom where a child can be reading aloud and another kid snickers when he mispronounces or is reading slow. They’re at a completely different level reading to the dog,” Ms. Roddick told the Palm Beach Post.

Even though they may not understand the stories they’re hearing, the dogs involved in read-aloud programs apparently benefit from the sessions, too.

“Hairy loves it,” said pet parent Jennifer Brown, a high school English teacher whose Pomeranian participates in the West Palm Beach Library program. “When we’re driving over there, Hairy is calm. But once he knows what’s going to happen, he goes nuts just barking and his tail wagging. I just know he’s looking forward to it.”

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Pet Health Insurance Headlines

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Attends Two of the Industry’s Largest Veterinary Conferences

From left to right: Jaclyn Carrington (Veterinary Services Manager), JoAnne Novak (VP of New Business Development / Employee Benefits), Cheryl Brown LVT (Veterinary Outreach Manager) and Lisa Hockensmith (Communications Manager).

My colleagues and I had a great time speaking with veterinarians at the NAVC Conference 2011 in Orlando, Fla., and at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas recently.

At both events, we met with a number of veterinary professionals at our booths and talked about how ASPCA Pet Health Insurance helps pet parents give their pets the best care possible.

If you are a veterinarian or work at a veterinary practice, call us anytime if you have questions about how our pet insurance can help your practice and your clients. Our Veterinary Services Help-Line is 1-877-738-2677.

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Hartville Group News & Info


As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

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While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.