Austin Dog Alliance Bow Wow Reading Dogs are certified therapy dogs who work with handlers who have attended a seminar to learn how to help at-risk readers learn to read. Many of our Bow Wow Reading dog volunteers are retired teachers or principals.
Austin Dog Alliance Bow Wow Reading Dog teams volunteer in the following types of partner facilities:
- Local elementary schools – At an elementary school, the program is designed to help below grade level readers improve their skills. The program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a dog. Our volunteers and their dogs are part of the student’s reading intervention plan. The volunteer and dog meet with the child every week, for an entire school year. The students selected for the program are typically at risk readers who would benefit from not only the one-on-one reading assistance, but also from the consistent and positive attention from an adult that is not a parent or teacher.
- Self-contained classrooms – In a self-contained classroom setting, the dogs not only assist with the reading program, but they also might help with social skills or motor control skills. The program can be customized to meet the goals of the students. Austin Dog Alliance can provide therapy dog teams where the handler is either a social works, special education teacher or other relevant professional who is working with a dog that has passed our Advanced Therapy Skills class.
- Libraries and after-school programs – Bow Wow Readings Dogs enjoy listening to children read at library program on the weekends and after-school programs during the week.
- College libraries – Young children are not the only students that enjoy the therapy dogs. During finals week, our Bow Wow Reading dogs are a very popular stress relievers on campuses all around town.
Bow Wow Reading Dogs are making a difference in the lives of many children in the Greater Austin Area. To see a list of the schools and libraries that are already established a partner sites, please visit our Sites We Visit page. To initiate a program at your school or library please contact our pet therapy coordinator.
Bow Wow Reading Dog Team Qualifications
Bow Wow Reading dogs are Austin Dog Alliance certified therapy animals who volunteer with their owners/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.
Bow Wow Reading Dogs are:
- At least 1 year old and have lived in the owner’s home for at least 6 months
- Calm, quiet, attentive, and comfortable in low-key settings
- Able to deal with close and unexpected encounters with large groups of rambunctious children
- Tolerant of tugging, pulling and exuberant handling
- Neutral to the presence of toys, crayons, paper, books and lunch in the trash can
- Cool around other animals;
- Have solid obedience skills and the willingness to learn new skills.
Handlers of Bow Wow Reading Dogs:
- Must enjoy children
- Love to read!
- Have a willingness to get to know the children, understand their challenges and remember small things about them
- Have compassion for and sensitivity to the hesitant and reticent child; patience with over-active children
- Possess patience with repetitive reading of the same book
- Have the ability to discern age with reading abilities and related activities
- Are flexible and have the ability to “go with the flow”
- Are a retired teacher or principal or have attended a seminar on how to help at-risk readers