Golden retriever Abby listens while Annie Letheman (right) reads to her sister Ruby and researcher Camille Rousseau (middle) observes.

Kids read better with dogs: UBCO study

A UBC Okanagan study shows students spend more time reading when a dog is present

Abby patiently listens while Annie Letheman reads aloud to her sister Ruby.

Abby is a Golden Retriever who is, oddly enough, helping the children learn to read.

According to Camille Rousseau, a doctoral student in UBC Okanagan’s School of Education, said her research has found that students spend significantly more time reading and showed more persistence when a dog—regardless of breed or age—is in the room as opposed to when they read without them.

Rousseau’s findings came from a study of the behaviour of 17 children from Grades 1 to 3 who read with and without a dog present.

READ MORE: UBC Okanagan BARK program helps local kids with social skills

The study was conducted with Christine Tardif-Williams, a professor at Brock University’s department of child and youth studies.

“Our study focused on whether a child would be motivated to continue reading longer and persevere through moderately challenging passages when they are accompanied by a dog,” said Rousseau.

The students in the study were chosen on their ability to read independently. Before the study, each child was tested to determine their reading range and to ensure they would be assigned appropriate story excerpts.

According to Rousseau, during the study’s sessions participants would read aloud to either an observer, the dog handler and their pet or without the dog.

Rousseau found the children read for longer and were more determined when a dog was with them.

“In addition, the children reported feeling more interested and more competent,” she said.

With the recent rise in popularity of therapy dog reading programs in schools, libraries and community organizations, Rousseau stated their research could help to develop ‘gold-standard’ canine-assisted intervention strategies for struggling young readers.

She hopes the study increases organizations’ understanding of how children’s reading could be enhanced by furry friends.

Rousseau is continuing her research on how canine-assisted therapy can influence students in other educational contexts through UBC’s therapy dog program—Building Academic Retention through K9’s (BARK).

READ MORE: Student stress relief: wagging tails and smiling faces


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

COVID-19: Vernon Towne Cinema back in action!

Movie lovers rejoice, the historic theatre has reopened with safety protocols in place

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Fundraiser kicks off for Lake Country families displaced by house fire

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise $5K for those who lost everything in early morning blaze

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read