A canine-assisted reading program, a form of animal-assisted intervention (AAI), is a goal-oriented program that incorporates trained animals – particularly canines – in formal human services. In recent decades, the positive effects of human–animal interaction in supporting the social, psychological, and physiological needs of humans have been expeditiously evaluated and compiled. In the field of education, there is also an emerging body of research of the effectiveness of canine-assisted reading programs. It is suggested that reading to a calm, non-judgmental, well-trained canine companion makes the process and practice of reading both meaningful and enjoyable for children. Drawing on humanistic theories of motivation and current studies exploring AAI, this article suggests that a canine-assisted reading program could be extended to benefit the population of children with special educational needs (SEN). The use of trained canines as an addition to dialogic reading, which is an established, evidence-based reading program, is also introduced in this article. Copyright © 2016 Educational Review.
CitationFung, S.-C. (2017). Canine-assisted reading programs for children with special educational needs: Rationale and recommendations for the use of dogs in assisting learning. Educational Review, 69(4), 435-450.
- Animal-assisted education
- Children with special educational needs
- Canine-assisted reading program
- Canine-assisted dialogic reading
- Reading motivation
- Remedial reading