Increasing Young Reader Confidence…With the Help of a Dog!

This week, we welcome Deborah Neame as our guest blogger. Deborah, along with her dog, Pip, are a Dogs Helping Kids Certified Visiting School Dog Team. Here at Conker House Publishing Consultancy we welcome any method that encourages interaction with books and this is a particularly heartwarming and effective approach. Over to Deborah:

Have you ever thought about reading to your pet? To be more precise – your dog? I take my dog into school to help children who perhaps need an extra boost into the magic and wonder of reading.

My dog, Pip, is part of an amazing organisation called Dogs Helping Kids (DHK). Their primary aim is to educate, help and support children and teenagers of all ages, backgrounds, gender and abilities. This is achieved by training carefully selected dogs to an incredibly high standard to work in the school, college and library environment as both educational and therapeutic aids.

The impact of DHK’s School Dogs on children and teenagers in the educational environment is truly amazing and often life changing. Academic research has shown that dogs working and helping in the school environment can achieve the following:-

1) Improve academic achievement
2) Increase literacy skills
3) Calm behaviour down
4) Increase social skills and self-esteem
5) Increase confidence
6) Teach responsibility and respect to all life
7) Help prevent truancy
8) Motivate children who are often not that attentive

The dogs selected will be incredibly calm and are happy to have an individual child read to them. Dogs give unconditional acceptance, as they are non-judgmental, which is especially crucial to struggling, emerging readers. The listening canines provide confidence to children as they don’t make fun of them when they read, and above all, they make amazing listeners, providing the children with a sense of comfort and love. In America, the ‘Read’ Dogs as they are known, have proved through research that children who interact with these dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and write, and an increase in intra- and inter-personal skills among the children they mix with.


Pip definitely has more friends, and probably a better social life, than her owners! Often being invited to go for walks without her owners, she is known by her younger fans as ‘Pippy Dog’. She has been going into a local primary school for the last 4 years and has worked on a one-to-one basis with a wide variety of pupils, who experience difficulties with reading, confidence, behaviour, as well as a fear of dogs. She has been invited to many school events – pantos, church services, celebration services etc – and sometimes even her owner is included on these invitations. Pip is now also working with another local primary school with a few children who have quite demanding educational needs.

If you would like to learn more about Dogs Helping Kids, do visit their website to read more:

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