Remember when you were a child and your parents used to read to you before bed? There are few things as soothing as listening to someone read you a story, and that’s why the Shelter Buddies Reading Program is so effective.

Reading encourages engagement

The Shelter Buddies Program trains kids to read to dogs as a way of readying them for their permanent homes. The program is effective on two levels: it helps the more shy and fearful dogs to engage more, and it instills a greater sense of empathy in the kids. The Humane Society of Missouri is already seeing excellent results because of it.

"We wanted to help our shy and fearful dog without forcing physical interaction with them in order to see the positive effect that could have on them," says program director Jo Klepacki.

Volunteers between the age of 6 and 15 can sign up for the program online. They are then trained to read a dog’s body language to determine if they are stressed out or anxious.

Good for both parties

The youngsters are encouraged to sit in front of these dogs’ kennels to read to them. This simple gesture can go a long way – hearing a child reading can really calm these animals.

"Ideally, the shy and fearful dog will approach and show interest. If so, the kids reenforce that behavior by tossing them a treat," said Klepacki. "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, rather than hiding in the back or cowering,” says Klepacki.

But it’s not only the shy dogs who are benefitting from this program; the more high-energy dogs have also shown development.

And what about the kids? They are learning to develop empathy with animals, and seeing the positive affect they can have.

The reading program is only a few months old, but it's been successful in helping dogs find permanent homes. Truly a great cause all round!

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