Therapy Dog Becomes Honorary School Teacher For Helping Students Read

Maggie the Shih Tzu sits on a bean bag chair while students read near her.

(Picture Credit: BBC News)

Maggie is just a little dog, but she makes a big difference to students at a UK school in the West Midlands. The 10-year-old Shih Tzu helps students learn and practice their reading skills, and she’s so good at her job that she’s become an honorary teacher with her own staff badge.

Maggie lies in a bean bag chair while her owner sits near a child who reads from a book about frogs.

(Picture Credit: BBC News)

The program is designed to help students practice their reading in a comfortable environment. Rather than talking to an adult authority figure, kids can have a more relaxed situation with the comforting presence of a dog to read to. Maggie sits by patiently and without judgement, and students have a calm, captive audience to hear them read. They also tend to look forward to reading more, as it means they’ll get to spend time with Maggie.

Maggie has been very successful with some students even doubling their reading age in a short time. Maggie doesn’t ask for much in return, but she absolutely loves getting paid in bacon as a reward for her hard work. Gracie is another therapy dog in training to take over when Maggie earns her well-deserved retirement. That’s right. Maggie even has a teaching assistant.

What do you think? Should dogs be used in the classroom to help students who are struggling? Would you feel more comfortable learning if you had a dog nearby? Let us know in the comments.

Related Articles: 

When Kids Read To Dogs, Both Species Benefit

Therapy Dogs Deployed To Combat Bullying In Kansas Middle School