Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Children read their favourite books to comfort shy shelter dogs


At a dogs shelter in Missouri, America, is a scene that will warm the cockles of the iciest heart.

Children are perching themselves outside kennels and reading their favourite books to shy or fearful canines in hope of comforting them. 

"We wanted to help our shy and fearful dog[s] without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that could have on them," Jo Klepacki, program director at Humane Society of Missouri, tells The Dodo.

The volunteers, aged 6-14, are asked to take a 10-hour course that helps them learn to read a dog's body language and look for signs of stress or nervousness. They are then encouraged to approach those dogs and soothe them through their reading.

Timid and apprehensive dogs were found to come out of their shells, while more energetic dogs were relaxed by the children's voices. 

"Hearing a child reading can really calm those animals," Klepacki said. "It is incredible, the response we've seen in these dogs."

"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"

Reading to shelter dogs

A young boy reads to one of the shelter dogs

The success of the first session at Christmas has led to a monthly recurring program which can now be booked online. The January event was filled within days. 

"It's encouraging children to develop empathy with animals," adds Klepacki. "It's a peaceful, quiet exercise."

"They're seeing fearfulness in these animals, and seeing the positive affect they can have. It encourages them to look at things from an animals perspective. That helps them better connect with animals and peoplein their lives."

Watch footage from one of the reading sessions below. It'll soothe any stress right out of you.



Get excited: the world’s first bunny spa is coming to London

panda cuddler.jpg

Applications open for role as professional panda hugger


Are you one of the 80% of people who hears an inner reading voice?


Victim of 'ringxiety'? You might be too needy

Libreria SCA 8287 - credit Iwan Baan.jpg

Look inside London’s new technology-free literary haven

Credit Suszi Lurie McFadden.jpg

Widow, Lucy Kalanithi, on how to grieve and breathe after death


The real meanings behind our surreal but common dreams


Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, dies aged 89

TZ41_618_2500 px.jpg

Inside the maternity bags of expectant mothers around the world



The winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize has been revealed

This author broke records to scoop the hottest literary prize of the year

by Francesca Brown
26 Oct 2016

Disney’s latest film project is big news for bookworms everywhere

What the Dickens?

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Oct 2016

Roald Dahl and Bake Off collide to make 5 amazing recipes

Forget Bake Off – it’s time for Quentin Blake-Off

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Oct 2016

Meet Jessika M., the queen of serial killer collectors

What makes a woman collect gruesome true crime memorabilia, from knives to letters and locks of hair?

by Moya Crockett
25 Oct 2016

Harry Potter fans, there's a real-life Hogwarts - and you can attend

Excuse us, we’re just heading to Diagon Alley for school supplies…

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Oct 2016

Harry Potter fans, there's a Roald Dahl collaboration in the works

Are you ready for a magical Willy Wonka prequel?

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Oct 2016

Sarah Jessica Parker is launching a new line of fiction books

She’s channelling her inner Carrie Bradshaw…

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Oct 2016

New Ladybird books for grown-ups are all our work woes

Old pics, new problems

by Anna Pollitt
18 Oct 2016

These are the UK’s favourite pearls of Winnie-the-Pooh wisdom

He’s far more than a bear of very little brain, you know.

by Moya Crockett
14 Oct 2016

Bridget Jones's author on life, love and the importance of friendship

“No one can have it all”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
12 Oct 2016