Guide Dogs NSW/ACT reading to dogs program build confidence in children

For many young children, learning to read can be a struggle and especially reading out loud – but a dog never will judge.

Moorebank Sports Club today hosted Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s Reading to Dogs program.

A group of young children sat down with guide dogs Milo and Finn and each read them stories. 

Wattle Grove girl Makayla Towerton, 9, said it was the first time she had ever met a guide dog so she was a little nervous.

She said however that she very much enjoyed reading to Milo and Finn.

Makayla’s cousin Katelyn Kilby, 5, from Narellan Vale said that she loved dogs and was amazed at what guide dogs do for their owners.

Henry Kirby, 3, with sister Katelyn, 5, from Narellan Vale with Guide Dogs Milo (left) and Finn (right).

Henry Kirby, 3, with sister Katelyn, 5, from Narellan Vale with Guide Dogs Milo (left) and Finn (right).

According to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, research has shown that reading to dogs can provide children with many benefits, such as emotional and social skills.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s pets as therapy coordinator, Sam O’Keeffe said the program had been popular overseas.

“When reading to a dog, some children feel that it becomes less difficult for them to be able to read aloud at school and it also encourages them to start reading more often at home, especially to their pets,” she said.

“The emotional benefits also play a big role in the reading to dogs program. Most children really enjoy reading to a dog as they know the dogs won’t judge if a word is mispronounced.”

Katelyn Kirby, 5, from Narellan Vale with Guide Dog Finn.

Katelyn Kirby, 5, from Narellan Vale with Guide Dog Finn.

Aside from providing dogs for people who are blind or have limited site, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been running it’s Pets As Therapy (PAT) companion dog program for the past 30 years.

PAT dogs are calm in nature and are carefully selected to be companions for people who may be disadvantaged due to age, illness disability or isolation at no cost to that person.

“PAT dogs can play a particularly important role in the emotional and physical development of children, by providing a source of love and companionship,” Ms O’Keeffe said.