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Dogs may help children read

While many people know how much dogs can benefit emotional and physical health, a new study suggests that they may improve education, too, by helping children improve reading skills.

In a study of 18 second graders, researchers from the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine found that students who read to dogs showed improved reading abilities and an increased enjoyment of reading than students who read to humans.

Last summer, researchers divided the group of children into two, with half reading aloud to dogs and half reading aloud to humans for 30 minutes each week. After five weeks, the dog group showed an increase in the words the children could read per minute, while the human group showed a decrease. In addition, the children of the dog group reported an improved attitude toward reading while the control group saw a slight decrease in enjoyment.

Although the study was too small to be statistically significant, Lisa Freeman, Tufts professor in the department of clinical sciences, told the news source that reading to dogs "really builds their confidence."

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are millions of homeless pets in animal rescue shelters across the United States that could use a loving home.  
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