Reading to Dogs: Exploring the impact on children’s emotional wellbeing and reading

2019 – 2022

Reading to dogs (RTD) is rising in popularity and implementation across UK schools, yet there is very little high-quality research exploring the effectiveness of RTD and the features of RTD programmes which may optimally promote positive outcomes for pupils.

Former primary school teacher and current PhD student Jill Steel has recently explored teachers’ perspectives of RTD, examining their perceptions of the benefits associated with RTD programmes, in addition to the challenges. Gaining teachers’ perspectives on interventions, which have the potential to affect them and their students, is so important and we would like to thank the 250+ teachers who took the time to participate in this research. We plan to share the results of this project as soon as we can.

Following on from this, Jill co-designed a RTD intervention with teachers, which was designed to support children’s reading (e.g., motivation, confidence, engagement) and emotional wellbeing. This approach to co-designing interventions ensures theoretical and empirical research insights can be combined teachers’ pedagogical knowledge, experience and expertise. The RTD intervention is currently being finalised and Jill plans to conduct a mixed methods feasibility study in 2021 to examine effectiveness, acceptability and training needs. Due to current restrictions, the four-week RTD intervention will be online and we are looking for schools to take part! If you are interested, or would like any further information, please get in touch:

This programme of research is being funded by the Principal’s Career Development Scholarship, University of Edinburgh. If you would like further information about this research, please contact Jill Steel: The research is being supervised by Dr Sarah McGeown (Education, University of Edinburgh) and Professor Jo Williams (Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh).