Student scientists at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan Campus, Canada, recently published the results of a study of the effects a dog has on the motivation of children.
Writes the Mail Online, the study led by Camille Rousseau “focused on whether a child would be motivated to continue reading longer and persevere through moderately challenging passages when they are accompanied by a dog.”
The notion is that the presence of a dog may make a child not only more focused but also more receptive to new learning.
The emotion study
Ms Rousseau's team took 17 children in grades one to three (six to eight years old) and studied their behaviour during reading time. For each child the researchers tested their concentration with and without a dog present.
Rousseau learned that each child was more focused on their reading when a dog was present. The child was also less likely to put their book down prematurely. Additionally, writes the Mail, the children reported feeling “more interested and competent.”
The attention study
The study is buoyed by previous investigations of the effects of canine “support”. In 2017 The Conversation wrote of a growing number of pedagogues who believe in puppy power as an effective encouragement to learning.
“The presence of dogs has a calming effect on many people – hence their use in Pets as Therapy schemes,” writes the publication.
“A dog creates an environment that immediately feels more relaxed and welcoming. Reading can be a solitary activity, but can also be a pleasurable, shared social event.
“Children who are struggling to read benefit from the simple pleasure of reading to a loyal, loving listener.”
The recent study by the UBC confirms the theory that dogs create a sense of calm. In that moment, when all is still, children's reading improves, and that leads to better learning.