Has Reading Gone to the Dogs?

Updated: Oct 3, 2018


In a manner of woofing, yes!

Courtesy pictures of: Gus and Handler Jodi Young

Children who haven't developed their reading skills by the end of first grade will most likely become poor readers and struggle through their formative years.




Innovative concepts have brought therapy dogs and children together, giving a new perspective on helping to improve reading skills.


This popular reading curriculum is a program made up of registered therapy dogs and their shadowed handlers. The therapy dog's main objective is so children can let go of their reading inhibitions by providing a fun, relaxed, non-judgmental, experience.

To date, very little research has been conducted on this concept. As reading therapy dogs gain higher recognition, further digging has begun in this field.


In 1999, Intermountain Therapy Animals launched the first therapy dog reading program called, R.E.A.D. Since then, similar programs have spread world-wide.


After 2 years of personal training and at the age of 9 years old, my Jamie received her therapy certification in September, 2013.


Jamie found her niche with Paws 2 Read (P2R), a local reading program based in Phoenix, AZ.

Blueberry Bear reading with her friend Alicia

The P2R reading program is gaining popularity in libraries and schools valley-wide, but the paw tracks don't stop there. Dedicated P2R therapy teams support communities by attending events such as:

Special Olympics

  • Special Olympics

  • Seeds for Autism

  • Literacy events

  • Arizona State University (ASU)

  • Tucson’s Festival of Books

  • Salt River Fields, NAGI Foundation


Although, dogs are most common in all types of therapy work, animal rights take on a whole new meaning as dogs roll over for their other furry, feathered, hoofed and fin friends.


Registered therapy cats, mini horses, pigs, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and even dolphins are included (but not limited to).

Patsy Swine, Blueberry Bear, and Story Monster

It’s All About the Dogs (Therapy Pets)

Therapy pets are motivators, encouraging and praising through the voice of their handlers.





The program's main focus is to engage therapy dogs as non-judgemental reading companions, releasing anxiety the moment there's eye contact between reader and therapy pet.

The objective is for children to read aloud to therapy animals while developing their reading skills without the pressure of a classroom environment.

Children are given a chance to:

  • pick out a book they enjoy

  • read at their own pace without criticism

  • have the opportunity to socialize with anmials one-on-one

One-on-One with Blueberry Bear

The goal is to:

  • allow a sense of accomplishment

  • foster a love of books and reading

  • provide a memorable reading experience

The main benefits of reading aloud to therapy pets are:

1. Reading Development in:

a. fluency

b. vocabulary

c. word comprehension

2. Learning:

a. patience by taking turns in reading to the therapy animals

b. about the human-animal connection

c. empathy towards animals

d. to be good listeners

3. reduces stress and anxiety

4. boosts confidence

5. enhances communication and social skills

6. improves spelling, writing, and visualization skills


With wagging tails, feathered-bopping heads and maybe a snort or two, pet therapy animals welcome you to - Come, Sit, and Read to them.


Below are just some of the many awesome Paws2Read volunteers.

Paws2Read Therapy Dog Heroes and Handlers.

PETS are PAWSATIVELY AMAZING!



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©2019 Blueberry Bear Tales. Proudly created by Wyatt Simpson and Eileen Pieczonka