Participate in our Research Project!

Thank you for your interest in our research study! We aim to examine how our adult-led and dog-led reading supports in the home may help your child’s literacy, and you will be provided with access to an online reading resource. It is important for you to know that this study is intended to help you and your child at home and should not be an extra burden for you!

To participate you must:

  • Be a resident of Alberta
  • Have a dog aged 2 or older
  • Have a tablet with internet connection/wifi
  • Have a child going into grade 3 this September (2021)

If you meet all of these criteria then you qualify. Please read on to find out more.

As you may know, there has been lots of research investigating ways to improve children’s literacy. Traditional methods include adult-led guided reading and, more recently, animal-led guided reading. Pretty much all of the data here has been collected in schools. The unprecedented disruption that covid-19 has introduced means that parents and children need as much support as possible during this time. This may be especially true for children who are just learning how to read. We want to know if having a dog at home, as many families do, can act as a support to children’s reading development. This study also intends to consider if reading supports might help to alleviate some of the stress that parents may feel as they help their children.

This study will take place over the summer for a 6-week period starting July 26th , 2021. If you volunteer you will be asked to answer some questions about yourself, your family, your child who is going into grade 3, and your dog. Following this you will receive an email providing details about the support you have been assigned. That is, you may be randomly assigned into either a parent-led support or a dog-led support. This is random so you will not be able to have a choice about what support you receive. However, at the end of the study you will be allowed access to the other support. As your family dog is a key part of this process it is important that you consider whether or not your dog is a good fit for the research. The dog-led support here will mainly involve your dog sitting/laying by your child while they read for approximately 20 minutes once a week. If you do not think that your dog will be a good fit for this then this study may not be for you.

Before the study begins, you will receive step-by-step instructions describing how to engage with the literacy supports. At this time, you will also be granted access to an online reading resource so that you may access reading-level appropriate materials for your child and to track their progress.

It is important to clarify at this point that this study DOES NOT involve your child’s school and therefore your child’s school will not be notified of any aspect of this study. School assessments of your child’s reading likely use different measures and specific protocols. This study can only estimate your child’s reading abilities from the information you provide us. Please note that the supports included in this study do not directly “teach” reading skills but are designed to encourage children to engage with reading in a private, supportive manner.

If you meet the criteria and would like to participate,

Click here to sign up!

For more information please contact:
Dr Corinne Syrnyk & Dr Alisa McArthur at