Children read books to calm shy and fearful shelter dogs

Photo credit: Humane Society of Missouri
  • Children are given the chance to help in calming shy and fearful shelter dogs
  • The children get the opportunity in the Shelter Buddies Reading Program
  • The idea is now making a huge difference for animals at the Humane Society of Missouri

What can children do to calm shy shelter dogs? A new program gives every child the opportunity to practice reading and the chance to help in calming shy and fearful dogs at the same time.

In an article written by Stephen Messenger of The Dodo it was disclosed that the new idea is dubbed as the Shelter Buddies Reading Program.

“We wanted to help our shy and fearful dogs without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that reading could have on them,” program director Jo Klepacki shared. “We launched the program last Christmas, but now we offer it once a month,” she added.

The project is hitting two birds in one stone; training children in reading, and giving them the chance to calm fearful dogs.

Children, who are aged six to 15, can sign up for the program online. After which, they will be trained how to read a dog’s body language in order to tell if they are stressed out or anxious. The young volunteers are then encouraged to sit in front of a shy dog’s kennel with a book; and read to them.

“Ideally that shy and fearful dog will approach and show interest. If so, the kids reenforce that behavior by tossing them a treat. What this is also doing is to bring the animals to the front in case potential adopters come through. They are more likely to get adopted if they are approaching and interacting,” Klepacki noted.

The project is reportedly making a huge difference for animals at the Humane Society of Missouri.

“Hearing a child reading can really calm those animals. It is incredible, the response we’ve seen in these dogs,” shared Klepacki.

Once a child has completed the 10-hour training program, he/she can immediately come back with their parents any time to sit and read to the dogs.

You may watch the video of the activity here: