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The physiological and educational effect of dogs on reading performance in children

L. Schretzmayer, K. Kotrschal, A. Beetz

Previous studies have indicated that the presence of a friendly dog can facilitate learning and reduce physiological effects of stress including heart rate, cortisol levels and blood pressure in people. Not only have such interactions been shown to reduce a number of physiological stress indicators, but the presence of a friendly animal has been observed to promote interpersonal interactions through verbal and non-verbal communication.

Children have been shown to be quicker, more focussed and exact when performing different tasks when a dog is present and previous studies have found a significant improvement in the reading rates of children following weekly animal-assisted reading interventions for six weeks compared to control groups.

This study aimed to investigate the spontaneous and immediate effects of the presence of a friendly dog on the reading performance of children with below-average ability.

Thirty-six children with below average reading skills, aged between nine and 10, took part in two reading tests. Short-term improvements and overall performance were assessed. Each child was tested in two sessions, a week apart, with a dog present for one session. Throughout each …

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