Most dogs will learn at least a few basic commands throughout their lives, but this dog has taken it to the next level by learning to read flashcards with commands written on them.Fernie, a 2-year-old Labrador Retriever, has been specially trained as a “school dog,” which is a dog that spends its time at schools to help children perform a variety of tasks. Fernie’s owner Nick Gardner, who is also the headmaster at a U.K. primary school, has been working with U.K. non-profit organization Dogs Helping Kids to train the dog since he was just a puppy, and one of the things Fernie has learned is how to read several written commands.Gardner told “SWNS TV” that he first started training Fernie by teaching him verbal commands while showing him flashcards with the commands written on them. Once the dog had mastered the tricks, he gradually phased out the verbal command, and Fernie learned to perform the trick just by looking at the cards.
Right now Fernie can read four different commands: “sit,” “down,” “roll over,” and “spin,” but Gardner is continuing to work with him in hopes that he can learn a few more.And as impressive as Fernie’s ability is, what’s even more wonderful is that the dog is using his skills to help children who are struggling to learn to read.”He’s taught to listen to children read,” Gardner explained. “So he comes and puts his chin on their lap, and he’ll look at the book, and the child can read to him. The dog makes no judgement of their reading, so it’s very motivational for children.”
Gardner also added that teaching the dog to read flashcards is helping motivate children to want to read on their own, because they want to be like Fernie.”Flashcards is a part of what he does as well,” Gardner said. “If the dog can read the flashcards and do what it says, then it sends a message to children to say that if a dog can do it then it’s good motivation for them to learn to read as well.”
Watch the video to see Fernie’s incredible tricks for yourself.