Raising a pet alongside a child can give the animal a lifetime of fun and entertainment, and it can have a positive effect on kids as well. Many are aware of the ways in which a pooch can improve a child’s physical and emotional health, but it turns out that canines can also help them in school, The Boston Globe reports.
According to a new study by researchers at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, reading aloud to a dog may have positive effects on a child’s ability to read, and may make them enjoy the pastime more.
In a small study of 18 second-graders, researchers analyzed the results of a reading program set up for the kids and their dogs. Over a five week period last summer, the children were told to read aloud for 30 minutes each week – half of the group was told to read to a dog, and half of the group read to a human.
Because the sample was so small, researchers point out that this test is not statistically significant, but noted that the children who read to dogs had an increased rate of words they could read per minute. The children who read to humans had a decreased word-per-minute rate.
“The benefit of the dog is they’re not judgmental, and they’re great listeners,” Lisa Freeman, a professor in the department of clinical sciences at Tufts told the news source. “It really builds their confidence.”
Freeman added that the idea for the study came from observations that having dogs present at reading sessions seemed to increase children’s interest in it. The researchers measured an improvement in children’s attitudes about reading in the dog group, and a decrease in interest in the human group. In fact, a third of the children dropped out of the human group, while everyone stayed in the dog group.
Many dogs may also enjoy reading time with a child, seeing it as a time to rest, relax and bond with family. It is best to partake in this activity when the dog is already resting, like at night, but if your pooch can’t calm down, it may help to give it pet meds such as Composure Liquid or HomeoPet Anxiety, both of which reduce anxiety and soothe pets when they are stressed. Plugging in Comfort Zone for Dogs may also help, diffusing a calming pheromone.