The most profound and observable benefit of reading to dogs programs is the change in the student's attitude toward reading. These literacy programs provide students with something more than simply practicing language.
Francine Alexander, the chief academic officer at Scholastic, the children's book publisher, explained in a recent article for ABC News that, "Kids have to practice, practice, practice to be good readers, and yet, when you're practicing, if you make a mistake, it can feel risky and uncomfortable. But if you're practicing with a dog, you don't mind making the mistake."
Research done by Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine showed that students who participated in a Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) program improved their reading significantly, while research by the University of California Davis showed improvement in reading skills to be as high as 12 percent. Additionally, educators who have tried the READ program report that along with building reading confidence, students overall behavior and attitude towards school and learning improved.
Garland Walton of Domus, a non-profit organization that helps literacy specialist in Connecticut school said, "Many kids who might otherwise be resistant to literacy instruction ask to read with the dogs and see it as a treat."
READ programs, whether found in classrooms or libraries, have gained popularity across the US and Canada. From the site used in the Tuft University research in the Grafton (Massachusetts) Library to the Paws to Read program in Orange County Florida, to the Maidstone Library in Kent County, England and the Vancouver and Ottawa schools in Canada, READ programs have created readers with the aid of canines.