Tuesday, August 23, 2011


by Lynn Fruchey, DVM

School has started and your children’s stress levels are going up. Homework, presentations, tests, grades and peer pressure all sometimes combine to sabotage a learning environment. Did you know that your dog can help alleviate these problems? Many children see their pets as friends and confidants. Pets provide non-judgmental emotional support and can play a vital role in the development of a child’s learning and social skills.

There are library programs all over the country where groups of children are encouraged to read to dogs. The kids tend to relax and explain the stories to their furry audience. It has been found that these children’s verbal skills and reading comprehension are higher compared to control groups where the kids read out loud in a classroom of their peers. Why not start one at your school? The same technique can be applied at home for practicing presentations, reading assignments and having your children explain concepts that they have learned. Show and Tell is another outlet to celebrate the human/animal bond kids share with their pets.

Before your load up the family dog and take him to school, make sure that you’ve polished his obedience and social skills. At the minimum, your dog should be able to walk nicely on a loose leash, greet strangers politely, sit, stay and settle quietly for an extended period of time. There are several ways to accomplish these goals.

Obedience classes introduce basic commands to you and your dog in a group setting. This is the commonly seen “classroom model” of learning and perfecting skills with many distractions present. For the more advanced dogs, there are AKC Canine Good Citizen classes that focus on your dog’s social skills. Classes are the perfect starting point for a young dog or a trained dog who needs a little polishing.

Private lessons with a trainer affords one on one attention and focus on you and your dog. Results are seen fairly quickly with emphasis placed on learning 1 or 2 specific skills. This “tutor model” is an excellent choice for dogs who know the basics, but are easily distracted by other dogs. They are also good for you as a handler to fine tune your commands.

Training while boarding or day care with training is the “correspondence course model”. A trainer works intensively with your dog on 2 or 3 skills to jump start his training. You then take over at home practicing the commands the trainer has taught. This is a great alternative for a busy household or for a dog who needs to gain confidence around strangers and new places.

Children learn the easiest when they are relaxed and focused. Why not let their best furry friend help with this process?

Stay N Play Pet Ranch offers every level of training for dogs from Puppy Beginnings to Basic Obedience, Canine Good Citizen to Certified Therapy Dog Training. Contact us today at (512) 894-7387 for more information!

Tucker trained at Stay N Play and is now a certified therapy dog!
He will be working with kids helping their reading skills!