Therapy Dogs & Kids
By Matthew Johnson of Waggz & Whiskerz
Recent studies have found that dogs can be helpful in assisting children in learning how to read. The reason behind this is simple, dogs are good listeners, who don't react negatively if kids stumble over words or have difficulty reading. The presence of a calm dog can help a child who is having difficulty or who is frightened of reading out loud and help them gain confidence.
Children may be encouraged or inspired to read to the dog because the dog lends an ear with absolutely no judgment, and kids feel like they are bonding with the animal instead of simply learning something that they may have had difficulty with.
As a therapy dog owner and the Owner of Waggz & Whiskerz I plan to venture further on this concept, “Reading with Benji” will be a new program that will start with pairing kids with Benji to help assist the children with learning how to read.
Therapy dogs have also been paired with children with disabilities and the elderly or ill, serving a variety of useful purposes. Dogs have been shown to have a calming effect, help people to live longer, and provide people with a sense of security and companionship.
Unlike Seeing Eye dogs and other service orientated dogs, there are no specific breeds that are accepted or barred from being a therapy dog. Any dog that has the right temperament and character to pass the tests can become a therapy dog, working in different environments.
Therapy dogs for kids are trained in obedience and tested for people skills. They have to demonstrate a calm demeanor and complete trust in people. Their owners are also trained and must show that they have good control over the dog. Once a dog is trained, he or she can become a part of a program like Benji as reading partners, and/or serve many other important functions within the community.
Training a therapy dog can also be one of the greatest bonds a dog can form with their owner. Therapy dogs and their owners have to completely trust each other as they go into new and different environments.
The pet and human do helpful and healing work together, strengthening the bond between them even more then the standard bond between a dog and their owner.
Benji will benchmark a new definition of the word “Therapy dog” because he is multi talented, with the right blend of training and obedience he along with Waggz & Whiskerz will strive to make a real difference for those who need it most.