PAWS For Reading

pawsDogs are amazing creatures who can make a difference in our lives in so many ways!

Recently I came across an article about dogs helping children to read. I am sharing the article in its entirety as it appeared on

The PAWS for Reading Program places dogs in a classroom or library setting in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. The dogs act as an incentive for the children to read. A dog is viewed as a non-threatening entity to promote reading, writing, and increased interaction and social skills in children.

The dogs that participate in the program have been trained through the TOUCH Program (Therapy of Unique Canine Helpers) and selected by the Support Dogs staff based on the qualities that make them suitable for the program. These dogs are especially calm and unobtrusive and settle in as part of the class. The children view the dogs as lovable and non-judgmental, which are the keys to success in this program. Children have said that the dogs give them confidence because the dog does not make fun of them if they read slowly or mess up pronouncing a word. The dogs are great listeners and give the child a sense of comfort while reading. Children have been known to practice with their personal pets at home in preparation for the Paws for Reading dogs.

Support Dogs, Inc. has developed an incentive program for the classroom in which children that read a specific number of books receive a special book of their choosing and a certificate signed by the canine classmate. If the child reads a high number of books, a special book is donated to the school library in the student’s honor. The incentive program can stand alone or be used in conjunction with a current incentive program already being offered by the school.

The PAWS for Reading Program serves children in first to tenth grades in St. Louis area schools and/or who attend the St. Louis Public Library program. Results have shown an increase in reading levels and word recognition, a higher desire to read and write, and an increase in intra and interpersonal skills among the children.


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