Should You Read To Your Dog?


We all know the many benefits of reading. It’s soothing, stimulating, educational, and fun. Many soon-to-be parents start reading out loud to their children during pregnancy as a way to connect and engage with their child. Did you know that many of the same benefits can also apply to reading out loud to our fur babies?

Dogs are incredibly attuned to human voices and emotions. Sensing both fear and stress as well as calmness, dogs tend to absorb and even mirror the overall energy of a space. Reading out loud to your pup can be a great way to soothe and calm a stressed or anxious dog, especially during potentially triggering situations like a thunderstorm.

Reading out loud can also help cue eager pups to transition from playtime to downtime, creating a calming environment while still engaging with them and giving them the attention they may crave. Reading to your dog may take a bit of practice. But soon enough, your dog will know that seeing a book means one-on-one time with their favorite person.

Reading out loud is a great way to get some work done or enjoy “me” time with a needy pup. As long as you engage with them, your dog won’t mind your reading material of choice, be it a children’s storybook or even work emails you need to get through before playing with them. Sharing what you’re scrolling through on your phone with your dog can help them to understand why you’re looking at a phone or book instead of focusing on them directly.

Reading to dogs can be just as helpful for humans and especially kids. Practicing reading skills with the family pup can increase reading confidence and help develop strong public speaking skills. Kids might have more patience reading to a cute furry audience than they would reading alone and it’s a great way to bond with a pet.

Reading is also a wonderful way to help nervous pups become more comfortable around children, and in helping fearful kids learn how to interact with dogs. Even if there aren’t kids at home, a pup might benefit from being read to by a neighbor kid to keep them comfortable around children. Kids can also benefit from learning and reading alongside a buddy, and dogs can be especially helpful at keeping kids engaged during online schooling.

If your child needs help with reading skills and you don’t have any dogs in your life, consider contacting a friend or neighbor with a pup, or even going and reading to pups at a shelter who may need and appreciate the company.

Downtown Dogs works alongside many local Minnesota rescues and shelters, who always love extra help engaging with pups who may be fearful and traumatized. During November and December of this year, Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out are supporting Spot’s Last Stop, a canine rescue organization that saves dogs and places them in loving forever homes. Help us raise funds by donating $2, $5, $10 or more when you check out and Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out will match the first $500 in donations each month!

The advice provided is based on many years of experience as dog parents and operators of one of the largest and longest established dog daycare and boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. Always consult your veterinarian. When not sharing advice, our dog bloggers — Frannie, Lyle, and Helen — share a space with their people, Downtown Dogs owner Ralph Bernstein and his wife, Abbe.