How is this possible?
Medical research developed over time confirms the unique benefits of canine therapy for children with special needs, including behavioral, psycho-emotional and disorders such as microcephaly, Williams syndrome, Down syndrome, West syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, Angelman syndrome. . At the same time, in the last years, the therapy and the activities assisted by animals have become an educational instrument prevalent in more and more states, being incorporated into the school curriculum.
Reading programs in the presence of the service dog, for example, are frequently found in the school syllabus as an intervention tool in improving the academic condition of the child. The principle of this program is that, when reading to a dog, the child will experience a sense of self-confidence, knowing that he will not be negatively criticized by him (Lane & Zavada, 2014). This creates a connection of acceptance and non-criticism between the two, with a major impact on the motivation of the child and his attitude towards reading (Friesen, 2009). Researchers have observed that many children who do not feel comfortable in interacting with humans do not have this inhibition in the relationship with the dog (Siegel, 2004), which allows the child to develop reading skills without fear of being criticized.
Thanks to such programs, teachers reported an increase in the motivation and interest of children to read aloud in class, to go to the library and even fewer absences from school. Positive results were obtained for disciplines throughout the academic curriculum.
Increasing academic performance
The increase of the academic performance of the child introduced in such a school program occurs by: reducing the level of stress and anxiety, increasing the motivation, focus, perseverance, even in situations where the use of other types of therapy (such as the psychological one) have failed (Jalongo, 2005).
Dogs are a source of natural anxiety relief, which reduces the stress of the child, lowers blood pressure and anxiety. They can be trained to assist the child in different areas of activity, motivating him / her: a. Science (teaching knowledge about life cycles, reproduction function, etc.); b. mathematics, economic sciences (children can assimilate knowledge by calculating the costs of feeding the dog and other elements related to maintaining a safe environment for it); c. health (children can study a dog’s diet); d. social sciences (children can compare the role of pets in different cultural models).