How it works
Most adults are apprehensive about speaking in public. It is very daunting. Young people are no different. Research shows that young people can become nervous and stressed when reading to others in a group. However, when a PAT Dog enters the group, they often become less stressed, less self-conscious and more confident as the dogs are non-judgemental. Before long the young people are starting to look forward to the reading experience as they are going to read to their new friend, the PAT Dog. PAT Dogs provide comfort, encourage positive social behaviours, enhance self-esteem, motivate speech and inspire young people to have fun. The teacher should remain in charge of the reading sessions at all times. The students will be selected by their teachers as those who would benefit most from this intervention; normally young people who lack confidence, or have difficulty with reading or attention deficit. The teacher chooses and provides appropriate books. It is suggested that the sessions for each young person should be no longer than 15 minutes.
How you can help with your registered PAT Dog
The PAT Dog is taken into a classroom and kept at all times on a lead and under the control of the PAT Volunteer, who initially introduce themselves and their PAT Dog – his name, breed, age and what they enjoy, and a little about them being a special visitor. The students are also told how much the dog enjoys hearing stories. Teachers are in charge and in attendance constantly. The PAT Volunteer holds their PAT Dog on a lead, but the student(s) should be allowed to sit (perhaps on cushions) close, so they can interact with the dog. The PAT Dog can then be used in many ways e.g. the teacher may say “Buster can’t hear you and would really like to hear this story, can you speak up so that Buster can hear?” Or, “Buster doesn’t know that word Peter, can you tell Buster what it means?” The PAT Dog can also be shown pictures and the student explains to the dog what the pictures are.
Helpful Hints and Tips for PAT Teams
If your PAT Dog falls asleep, tell the student he is just closing his eyes so he can concentrate on the story.
If your PAT Dog becomes active, tell them “Look, Buster is really enjoying you reading to him”.
At the end of the session they should have the opportunity to stroke the dog. This is a BIG Reward.