Have you ever thought about doing volunteer work with your dog? It can be a rewarding experience for both you and your pet. There are many types of volunteer opportunities in which pets can participate, but helping children with their literacy skills is one that can be lots of fun.

If volunteering your pet for reading sessions sounds like something that might interest you, check out the information we have gathered for you.

Will My Pet Make a Good Volunteer?

Being fluffy and cute isn’t always enough! While program requirements may vary slightly, most will have the same basic requirements.

  • Pets should not be fed a raw protein diet due to health concerns.
  • Pets should be fully potty-trained.
  • Pets should mind on a leash and have good basic obedience skills.
  • There should be no history of aggression towards people or other animals under any circumstance.

The most successful pets are confident in new situations and enjoy being handled and touched. They are going to be spending a lot of time with new people and should not be at all nervous.

What is Involved?

Every program is a little different, but most aim to improve the reading and communication skills of children by allowing them to read aloud to dogs. Doing so boosts confidence and makes for a heart-warming experience.

As the handler you should be comfortable handling your pet and able to read his or her subtle cues of stress or anxiety. You should also be willing to engage with your assigned child.

How Do I Get Started?

Begin by exploring opportunities in the area and education yourself as much as possible. The following resources contain a lot of great information about what it takes to get involved in volunteering with your pet. By making connections and participating in some of these activities, you can get your foot (and paw) in the door to being a pet reading volunteer.

  • Therapaws R.E.A.D. Program – This Ann Arbor area organization coordinated reading volunteer opportunities.
  • Pet Partners – This national society is dedicated to enhancing the human-animal bond through volunteer opportunities.
  • Canine Good Citizen Program – The American Kennel Club provides a certification opportunity for pets to be rewarded for having good manners in a variety of situations. This type of program is a great foundation for therapy dogs of all kinds.

Does your dog have what it takes to be a volunteer reading dog? We hope so. Being a volunteer can be such a wonderful experience, and sharing that experience with your beloved pet can make it even more special. Our pets bring us so much joy, and it is even better when we can use them to touch the lives of others.