Have you ever read to your dog? That seems like a ridiculous thought but the idea seems to be trending.
Thanks to the Times, word of a program that ties abused dogs with reading is generating buzz. The program abides by the philosophy that dogs who are abused need to be sensitized to human voices. Thus, having people read anything to them in a soothing tone benefits the dog.
This idea hasn’t been studied but there is a general consensus that it does work. And who wouldn’t want to read to a dog?
The benefits of reading are hard to measure since the dogs also get a full range of training and behavioral therapy. But it makes a difference, Ms. Wells said.
“You know within each session the progress that they’re making,” she said. “In the beginning of the session, the dog might be in the back of their kennel cowering, and then they move forward, lie down, relax; their tail might wag.”
That sounds very special. Reading to your dog sounds great!
But are there any other benefits outside of personal literary growth? I wondered so I dug into the subject and have a few things to share.
• According to the ASPCA, reading to your dog is important. They liken it to reading to children and, while this isn’t the same thing, dogs that are easily intimidated or shy with humans would benefit because it takes the focus off speaking to the dog. Thus, the dog can just get comfortable with people talking without the focus of conversation being on them.
• The article mentions how kids have long been reading to dogs and how helpful that can be—but there’s more. An organization called R.E.A.D. has been connecting kids with therapy dogs for years under the guise that the children are teaching the dogs how to read. Is that not adorable? This reading environment takes out judgement as the dogs just sit and stare as a little voice comes at them.
• A program like the above isn’t just for kids either: Sonoma County Library offers a program for dog reading to help reluctant readers gain confidence. This is a fantastic means to encourage literacy.
• While there isn’t a lot on this, reading to dogs might be helpful with persons who have conditions like autism. Take this six year old California boy: the process helped him socialize better with animals. Moreover, he had trouble speaking and interacting with dogs on a learning basis—by reading—helped solve his problems.
• Curious how this all works? Watch the below PBS video on what it’s like to read to dogs.