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Kogod Center for Business Communication
Audience Dog Program




Practice speech with a live audience


Kogod’s audience dog program pairs locally-sourced dogs with business students for 30-minute rehearsal sessions. Presenting to a non-judgmental canine reduces students’ anxiety and elevates mood, helping improve their quality of speaking.


Roughly 70% of college students have a fear of public speaking, according to communication expert James McCroskey. To help alleviate student fears, the Kogod Center for Business Communications (KCBC) provides business students the chance to practice speeches and presentations by addressing a friendly “audience dog.” Both the dogs and their student handlers are vetted and trained to ensure both human and canine safety.



Meet the KCBC Audience Dogs in person!
Belle, a Pug / Pomeranian mix, is a great listener. Meet our Audience dogs on our Instagram account.


Reaction to the program has been hugely popular. As an antidote to student stress, AU student Jessica Lewinson, quoted in an August 2016 New York Times article, reflects that the program “... makes you smile, and kind of gives you a chance to step back from your presentation, to step out of that track you get stuck in.”


Using dogs to reduce anxiety and build confidence has been growing in popularity in courtrooms, hospitals, schools and libraries. And converts are not all simply dog lovers. A team of researchers at a Budapest University found that dogs’ heightened understanding of human speech has resulted in MRI scans showing that “...both what we say and how we say it matters to dogs.”


From therapeutic to educational settings, well-trained, intuitive canines have a role to play in promoting wellness and skill-building. As KCBC Director Caron Martinez says, “We know that practice is key in developing verbal fluency and ease. And if we can motivate students to practice by having dogs as an audience, we can also help our students become confident and talented business communicators.”





If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our Audience Dogs, please email us at cbc@american.edu.