When we think of fun with dogs, it tends to be all of the outdoor activities you associate with summer: running around in the park, playing fetch, Frisbee, and perhaps jumping in every creek that you can find. No wonder kids love their canine companions so much!
For some children, though, it’s the indoor activities they do with their dog that provide them with hours of furry fun. Some parents are surprised to find out that dogs can also help kids to concentrate on learning.
A Brief History of Reading with Dogs
Patriotic pet parents will be happy to learn that the idea of reading with dogs started right here in the US!
Back in 1999, Intermountain Therapy Animals in Salt Lake City, Utah, launched Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), the first literacy program based on the motivating influence of a canine companion. The organization recognized the value of therapy animals in educational activities for children early on and has been spreading the concept ever since.
It worked… and how!
Fast forward some 25 years and similar programs are active across North America, Europe, and South Africa, with more than 3,000 training teams active. And that’s just those registered with the R.E.A.D. program!
The concept hasn’t been limited to those original programs either. Researchers have written several books on the subject of how kids are helped by having a learning companion who they realize has no expectations or judgment of their ability, whatever the task. Studies tend to show that children are more relaxed around dogs, especially when they read or create, which isn’t surprising when you consider the task to be fun at home, rather than a homework assignment.
As you’ll have seen if you have ever attended one of our kids’ festivals, trained therapy dogs and cats play a big part in how we help children learn and relate to animals.
Events Featuring Therapy Animals
Because we’re lucky enough to have such a close relationship with W.A.G.S 4 Kids, we strongly believe in their mission and understand the value of therapy animals. Heck, our head dog Fagin is one of them!
That’s why at many of our events you’ll see dogs that are a part of the Big Creek family participating in activities like reading with your children, helping them to learn pet safety, and just generally hanging out for a comforting cuddle!
As an opportunity to learn without pressure and cuddle with a furry friend, attending an event like our Kids Reading Festival on Wednesday August 12th – Big Creek Pet Hospital’s Reading Festival For Kids is one of the best ways to help your child relax and relate more closely to animals. And it sure beats them eating the doggy treats to do so!