Furry Companions help Children gain Confidence


The Reading Dogs programme is an innovative way to develop assurance and combat fear among young ones.

The Animal Agency is offering a revolutionary scheme that aids children with reading confidence through the support of highly, trained furry friends in their houses. Launched in 2017, founder Karalynn Thomson combined her devotion to animals and knowledge of their hidden talents in an educational programme that involves canines assisting children with reading aloud.

The service is now available to parents and children in the privacy of their own homes and The Animal Agency further caters to the needs and convenience of families as part of the expansion and popular growth of the learning tool.

With research showing that some children learn better at home, the team visits homes and delivers 30-60 minute private or small group sessions. In line with the government’s vision of the ‘Year of Reading’, The Animal Agency brought the innovative concept of reading dogs to the forefront of child development techniques.

Thomson introduced the service for parents and children in the comfort of their own homes and continues to service Dubai’s schools and nurseries with specific sessions and weekend sessions at private venues around town. Parents can sign up for the mailing list or follow on social media to find out about upcoming schedules.

She says: “Research has shown that reading with dogs programmes can improve a child’s fluency by up to 30 per cent. It also builds their confidence to read aloud and offers a whole host of other social and emotional benefits. It is really quite amazing to see the impact a Reading Dog can have on a child’s confidence.”

The educational concept includes a team of 19 trained dogs that have read with over 2,500 children in English and Arabic. The Animal Agency have conducted almost 200 sessions in the city and attended 28 schools and nurseries to encourage the unique offering.

Dogs of different breeds and sizes are carefully selected to go to schools to be ‘read to’ by children in small, supervised groups. The sessions are aimed at fostering a positive association with books in young people and raising the confidence of children, who might otherwise be nervous when reading out loud.

All dogs are rigorously evaluated by Reading Dog UAE’s dog trainer and assessor, Denise Vertigen. Denise studied Canine Psychology and Behaviour at Esher College in the UK and has more than 20 years’ experience working with animals. She is officially recommended by UAE-based vets, as well as the dog rescue shelter, K9 Friends.

Children can expect to read out loud to Lost the German Shepherd, Chip the Frenchie, Bertie the Labrador or even Karalynn’s own pet, Remy the Wheaten Terrier, amongst others.

Source: Khaleej Times