Saturday Meeting 26 February 2022

It was such a wonderful time today when our Book Club members could meet again after such a long time!

Hannelie from Northern K9 Academy and her crew came to show us what it is they do, and how dogs can be trained to be obedient to their owner.

Many people have encounters with dogs that frighten them for life, and ruins their love for those animals. It was our aim to re-introduce Dog to Man.

Hannelie’s crew explained to us how to approach dogs, when NOT to approach them, and what to do if they ever find themselves in an unwanted situation with a dog. They then demonstrated some of their training with the dogs, which we really enjoyed. Some of the kids were terrified, but so badly wanted to just touch a dog. They were given the opportunity to overcome that fear.

My Dog LaughsWe then read the book My dog laughs by Rachel Isadora (ISBN: 9780399173851), which is a wonderful compilation of things dog owners do with their dogs – they are wonderful companions and we can share food, play together and even share a bed! The book introduces the work that goes into looking after a dog, but also the joys one receives in return that make it all worth it!

That leads me to point out a few things about reading to a dog.

Reading to a dog can help struggling readers in various ways.

Dogs love the attention. They love company. And they are very patient and loving.
Usually, when a child reads to a dog, they form a bond with that animal, which makes them want to revisit the experience. This is as good for the dog as it is for the child, since both receive unconditional acceptance!

Unconditional acceptance leads to de-stressing. What better circumstances are there than a calm, relaxed atmosphere! This is exactly what a child experiences when spending time with a dog. And in this way the child becomes relaxed.

We all know from experience that when we are relaxed, we enjoy the tasks we do much more. The same counts for reading. When the child is feeling relaxed, he will more likely attempt reading out loud. Reading out loud might be a daunting task, and it sometimes feels silly. But reading to Man’s Best Friend can help get familiar with the reading process as it builds confidence when the reading is done to a non-judgmental friend. Someone who is just here to listen, not to correct or criticize.

And, if you haven’t noticed yet, reading out loud is different than reading to yourself silently. As reading out loud is practiced when reading to a dog, the child’s reading speed improves, since it activates more areas in the brain (not only visual memory, but also the language part of the brain, the part we use for speaking). Neural pathways in the brain form much like furrows form when it rains. With every pass, the pathway gets deeper, and we get better at a task. So as the child visits and revisits time with the dog, (and/or with the same book!), it helps them become fluent in their reading.

MOST IMPORTANTLY reading out loud in such a way don’t only improve reading skills, but also communication skills, AND it develops a love for reading and books as it teaches children to read for fun, and that it is not a chore!

Have a look at how the International R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) Program works and what they’ve found.



Until Next Time!

Happy Reading!

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