2014 – a great year for Paws for Progress!

The first prison based dog training programme in the UK, Paws for Progress was introduced to HM YOI Polmont in August 2011, and continues to operate successfully as we approach our third anniversary. We have been working hard to ensure the project is sustainable in the long term and are very pleased to announce that Paws for Progress was registered as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in February 2014 (see ‘About us: Paws for Progress CIC’).  We are very grateful to our project partnersfunders and supporters who continue to provide excellent support throughout the course delivery and project development (see ‘Our partners, funders and supporters’ for more information) which enables us to continue to improve the outcomes of the young people and dogs who are involved.

Latest reviews of our progress

Kai and handler - learning together

We have now completed eleven cycles of the course at HM YOI Polmont, and the response is hugely positive. Overall, there have now been 66 young men who have taken part in Paws for Progress; over 80% of these continued to support us post-graduation as peer mentors and volunteer assistants, demonstrating their high commitment. Rebecca Leonardi (who instigated the project) is researching the efficacy of Paws for Progress in delivering the intended outcomes (as the focus of her PhD) and it will therefore be subject to a comprehensive review, due to be completed by the end of the year.

More good news!

In the meantime, we are delighted to report some of the headline results and initial findings e.g. in the last year (as of May 2014):

- 30 young men completed the 8-week dog training course

- Almost 300 SQA qualifications gained in core skills such as reading, writing, calculation and measuring

 – 100% of participants felt the course had helped them, and that it had a positive effect on their understanding of dogs too  

 – 21 dogs gained APDT Good Companion Awards

 – 55 dogs successfully re-homed

Picture10

Fife College

Feedback from the young men involved in the pilot project has been extremely positive, with participants feeling more confident about their communication skills, problem solving abilities, patience and management of emotions as they progress through the course. The young men feel a real sense of accomplishment, gained from the achievement of targets and goals, and from seeing the improvements in the dogs they work with (see examples below).Over 75% of our graduates have also continued to engage with us following their release, allowing us to continue to provide support and facilitate volunteering opportunities.

Student feedback

Student feedbackLearning together

 

Happily rehomed

 The dogs participating in Paws for Progress have continued to respond very positively to the training they receive. Overall, 111 dogs have now been successfully rehomed, and 48 APDT Good Companion Awards gained. The students work very hard under the guidance of Dogs Trust staff, to ensure the dogs’ continuously progress.

Whilst the full evaluation of the dog outcomes is ongoing, the initial findings are very positive, demonstrating improvements to behaviour across training tasks. The dogs’ improved behaviour and sociability also increases their appeal to adopters, and the extra promotion the students’ work provides can help these great dogs find the loving homes they so deserve.

Happily rehomed

Events

Following on from the successful Paws for Progress Event at HM YOI Polmont last year, we will be taking part in a number of conferences and events during 2014 to showcase our work and share information with supporters and stakeholders. This includes attending the IAHIAO Symposium 2014, where we will engage in important discussions to share perspectives, practices and knowledge in Human Animal Interactions (HAI).

Paws for Progress CIC is based within the University of Stirling, who are supporting the development alongside the new and exciting Stirling Human Animal Interactions Research (SHAIR) Centre. We will host a HAI Workshop at the University of Stirling later this year, and will provide you with more details soon.

Paws for Progress continues to receive widespread interest and support and we are thrilled that this momentum continues to grow.

Agility

Thank you to everyone who is helping us achieve our ambition to deliver positive change in the lives of both people and animals.

We look forward to sharing more news with you soon.

 

 

Link

“How dogs are teaching young offenders new tricks”

In case anyone missed the recent coverage of Paws for Progress in The Guardian, the link above will take you to the article, published online on Tuesday 17 September 2013. Our thanks to The Guardian and

There are lots of exciting developments happening at present, and we look forward to sharing more news with you soon. Thank you to everyone for their support of this great project.

Welcoming Paws for Progress into 2013…

As we begin training another new group of enthusiastic students on the Paws for Progress course, we thought it was time we provide you with another update on the project’s developments and achievements so far.

Reviews

We have now completed six cycles of the course at HM YOI Polmont, and the response so far has been hugely positive. Rebecca Leonardi (who instigated the project) is researching the efficacy of Paws for Progress in delivering the intended outcomes (as the focus of her PhD) and it will therefore be subject to a comprehensive review. In the meantime, we are pleased to say that the Visiting Committee and HM Inspectorate of Prisons have been very impressed by our work, as seen in their recent reports (see quote below):

HMCIP Report

The results of our first year review (described in a previous post) were so impressive that both the Scottish Prison Service and Dogs Trust have continued to increase the resources dedicated to support Paws for Progress. We were provided with dedicated work area for the project  at HM YOI Polmont, now known as ‘The Dog Training Workshop. We were thrilled to welcome a dedicated SPS Officer to the team, who now works with us on a full time basis. Combined with the excellent assistance from the Training team at Dogs Trust West Calder throughout our practical training sessions, and the Learning SuppHappy dogs!ort provided by Carnegie College, this increased staff support has meant we were able to increase the number of training sessions per week, and increase the opportunities available to participants.

Educational achievements

Our students complete an SQA in Personal Development, in which they design a personal project based on their work in the course, and review their progress in relation to individual targets. Paws for Progress developed a partnership with Carnegie College in early 2012, and began contextualising SQA qualifications in Communications, IT and Numeracy within the coursework. These core skills are very important for future employment (as highlighted in the Curriculum for Excellence), and made relevant and enjoyable to the students by being integrated into our work with the dogs.Working with the dogs Since then, our students have gained a very impressive number of qualifications; from units in reading, writing, speaking and listening, to units in calculation, graphical information and measuring. Our students now make digital displays to promote the dogs to potential adopters, whilst also gaining an IT qualification as a result of their hard work. Students who continue as peer mentors and assistants can achieve higher levels of qualification. In total, there are now 10 educational qualifications which our students can gain through the dog training course. The students also work towards Course Certification and each successful rehoming of a dog is a recognised achievement for the trainer.

Example slide from digital display for the dogs

Quito - example slide

The excellent digital displays produced by our students to promote the dogs can be seen at the Dogs Trust West Calder Rehoming Centre – we hope you will visit soon! In addition to more practical training time, our students now have more opportunity to develop the dogs’ promotional material, further improving their chances of finding new homes.

Thanks from new owners

Training Sessions

Each student is paired with a dog, and their work is focussed towards helping the dog be rehomed. We use Agility trainingkind, fair and effective dog training methods; positive reinforcement techniques are employed to teach the dogs new skills, and our students design individual training plans using reward based methods to achieve their training goals. And thanks to the kind donations received through Tynewater DoAgility Trainingg Training’s fundraising event, we were able to purchase additional equipment, including the agility equipment shown, meaning the dogs benefit from even more positive stimulation and activity during their visits. Our Agility Trainingthanks also go to Broadleys Veterinary Hospital for their kind donations of equipment for our Training Room.

The dogs show great enthusiasm for their training and make excellent progress, and the affection between dogs and handlers is moving to observe. Handlers work towards APDT Good Companion Awards with their dogs, to help provide practical skills that will benefit both the dog and new owners when they are successfully rehomed.

During the theory training sessions (without the rescue dogs present), participants learn the theory behind dog training and animal care, complete coursework and are visited by guest speakers, to discuss their work with animals and encourage our students to put their skills to use in employment in the future.

We are so grateful to the increasing number of organisations that support us, providing external speakers for course sessions and work experience opportunities for Paws for Progress graduates. These organisations include Dogs Trust, Blair Drummond Safari Park, Edinburgh Zoo, Broadleys Veterinary Hospital, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the Guide Dog Association, the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA), Willows Animal Sanctuary, Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service, Safe Paws and Tynewater Dog Training.

Happy students!Our students thoughts...

We hope you agree that the project is progressing well for everybody as we begin 2013! So a big thank you from all of us at Paws for Progress for the fantastic support shown to us, and we look forward to sharing more news with you all soon.

pawsforprogress:

Our thanks to Tracey for all the help she has given us at Paws for Progress, and for sharing her experiences in this lovely article.

Originally posted on The Joy of Thought:

group brushed.2In 2004, I started the journey to become a TTouch practitioner. At that time, I didn’t imagine that I was setting off on a path that would lead me to prison. And yet several times now, I’ve stood outside Polmont Young Offenders Institute with bags of groundwork equipment and a life-size toy black labrador waiting to be picked up and taken into the prison.

This started in 2011 when I was contacted by Rebecca Leonardi who runs the Paws for Progress project. Paws for Progress is a collaboration between the Scottish Prison Service, Dogs Trust and the University of Stirling and is the UK’s first dog training program based within a prison. The Paws for Progress courses run in eight week cycles and in each one, a small number of prisoners take part in three training sessions a week – two of these with rescue dogs from the Dogs Trust…

View original 1,483 more words

Hot off the press: Our students opinions on dog training methods…

Paws for Progress: Dog Training Methods

Which dog training methods should you use with your dog? This has been a hot topic in the UK in recent weeks, as the celebrity trainer Cesar Millan began publicising his upcoming UK tour. Many professional dog trainers and behaviourists have voiced their concerns about the confrontational methods which are shown in his TV show (brought together here), and an interview with Cesar on the Alan Titchmarsh show led to coverage in a number of UK newspapers (e.g. here, here and here), in blog posts (e.g. by Jez Rose) and on forum sites (e.g. here). It’s a controversial topic – although UK animal welfare, behaviour, training, canine and veterinary organisations are united in their objections to the use of such aversive training techniques (see statement here), Cesar is popular celebrity figure who has many fans in the UK, and so the debates can often become heated (interesting points on this issue are highlighted by Karen Wild). And to make it more complicated, there are many points made by Cesar which few would argue with – such as the need to provide dogs with adequate exercise, appropriate boundaries, and the recognition that many behaviour problems exhibited by dogs are caused or exacerbated by people. However, it is the methods used by Cesar to address behavioural problems, (which typically involve triggering the unwanted behaviour and then punishing the dog) which have led to increasing concerns regarding both the dogs’ welfare and the safety of dog owners who imitate what they see on the show.

At Paws for Progress, we like to address current dog related issues in the news as part of the training for our students. For example, when Jordan Shelley appeared on ‘The One Show’, we followed the topic and our students watched the clips, and wrote essays giving their opinions on the methods which were used. We also look at the UK laws pertaining to dogs and dog ownership, and discuss the positive and negative aspects of our current legislation. So as the topic of dog training methods has arisen in recent news, we showed our students the resulting newspaper articles, and a number of clips of famous dog trainers taken from television shows. The main purpose of this exercise is to encourage our students to use their observation skills to assess the dogs’ behaviour (e.g. noting stress signals) and to then consider the positive and negative consequences of different training techniques.We then asked our students to write their opinions about the different training methods they had seen.

We thought you might be interested to see what they thought, and so here are some of the responses we received… The first was written by one of our students, who chose to write an essay on this topic, which is copied directly below:

Why you should use positive reinforcement/ reward techniques to train dogs instead of punishment.

I believe positive reinforcement using reward based training is not only a great way to train dogs, but is in fact the best way. I first discovered this during my time in Polmont Young Offenders Institution, when I started a dog training programme called Paws for Progress. Before starting the Paws for Progress course I did not know anything about dog training and had never tried anything like this before. On the first day of the course Rebecca, the course leader, explained to me everything that I would need to do and told me that we would be using positive reinforcement to train the dogs and that we were never to use punishment on them.

Positive reinforcement is when you reward your dog for doing something right, instead of punishing them for doing something wrong. To do this we use clicker training, this is where I would ask the dog to do something, for example I would ask the dog to “sit”, then as soon as the dog’s bum touched the floor I would click my clicker and give the dog a treat. That way the dog learns a lot quicker that it is doing something right, as the action is clearly marked as correct and the dog recognises they are being rewarded for it.

Clicker training is very easy to learn, you just need to get your timing right. As soon as your dog does what you’ve asked them, that’s when you click your clicker, otherwise if you leave too long – between the time your dog does what you’ve asked it and the time you click your clicker – you could just end up confusing your dog. But it is good that with clicker training, you won’t do damage to your dog if you get it wrong – they just won’t learn as quickly.

When I was growing up I’d never had any pet dogs, until I was seventeen and I moved in with my friend and his family. They owned three dogs but not one of them had ever received any training and my friend’s family did not know anything about training dogs, yet they seemed to expect the dogs to understand everything they were saying to them. They used to shout at the dogs and sometimes hit them for not doing as they were asking and I always remember thinking the dogs looked scared and confused. Yet all that shouting at them never helped at all as the dogs never learned anything from it, which to me proved using punishment on your dog to train them does not work and should never be done.

Positive reinforcement however does work which is why I believe you should use this to train dogs instead of using punishment. Using reward based training is extremely effective, it is easier, quicker and much more enjoyable both for you and your dog. It is also a great way for you to build up a good bond with your dog, whereas if you were to use punishment on your dog you are more likely to break that bond.

So if you are looking to start training dogs please use positive reinforcement instead of punishment as it is the best way, the right way and for me the only way to train a dog.

While on the subject of positive reinforcement, just recently Cesar Millan, or the “Dog Whisperer” as he is known, began publicising his UK tour.

Cesar Millan is probably the most famous dog trainer/ psychologist in the world due to his US TV show ‘The Dog Whisperer’. However this does not make him the best, in fact I would say he is far from it due to his barbaric training methods. Cesar uses things such as prong collars, electric shock collars, nooses and leads to restrict the dog’s air supply and I’ve even seen him do what I can only describe as physically assaulting dogs to get them to do what he wants.

Now, to me that is not dog training, but simply an act of animal cruelty and I would strongly discourage anyone, especially new dog owners, from watching his shows for advice or tips on how to train their dogs.

I’m not the only one who disagrees with these training techniques as most, if not all of the UK animal welfare, behaviour, training, canine and veterinary organisations would also advise you not to copy Cesar’s methods, as from a welfare perspective it is totally unacceptable and using methods such as his can in fact worsen the behavioural problems you aim to address (see statement here).

This brings me to my next point. What do dogs learn from these methods? Well, firstly, using punishment on a dog such as kicking the dog’s underbelly or pinning the dog to the floor, two acts that I’ve seen Cesar use on a number of occasions, will teach your dog that you are a source of pain and will put a fear of you into your dog and may well cause an aggressive reaction which could lead to you being seriously injured and then the dog being euthanized (put to sleep), all because you tried to train your dog to do something right, but unfortunately in the wrong way. Also it is, again in my opinion, impossible to build up a good, strong bond with your dog by using these methods. And in relation to training, yes, some of Cesar’s methods may work, but why use these when you can achieve the same and more by using reward based training, which is used very effectively by dog trainers all over the UK and is a much safer, humane, enjoyable, rewarding and effective way to train a dog.

Like many others, I’d like to see Cesar Milan ditch his current techniques and to start using positive reinforcement as his shows are watched by millions of people around the world and then people could see what I like to call ‘the right way to train a dog’ instead of his current medieval tactics and I’m sure in doing so a lot of his critics would turn in his favour.

Lastly, I would just like to reiterate why I believe inexperienced dog owners should not try out the techniques seen to be used by Cesar Milan on his TV shows.

Cesar Milan is a self-taught dog trainer and has never been trained by a professional himself, in fact Cesar has even said himself “I tell people to consult a professional”, well, at least that’s something we agree on. Cesar’s training methods come with huge and sometimes dangerous risks. For example if you’re using punishment and aggression towards a dog, you are highly likely to promote the same reaction back which is the last thing you want to do. I’m not saying everything Cesar Milan does is wrong but there are some of his training methods that I strongly disagree with and for that reason I would advise anyone who is looking to learn how to train a dog to be on the safe side and steer clear of doing what he does and instead use positive reinforcement/ reward based training.

This report is not directly against Cesar Milan but at the methods he sometimes uses as I feel they are completely unnecessary and on some occasions down right cruel. So if you want to be a good dog trainer please take my advice, as it is the right way, the best way and the only way forwards for you and your dog.

After watching clips of the ‘Dog Whisperer’ show, the rest of the group of students answered 3 questions; these are copied below, with the responses of each student.

1. What do you think of the methods that were used?

  • Useless, kicking the dog was not right, electronic collars should not be used.
  • I don’t think the methods he used were good because he often hurts the dog.
  • These methods are barbaric and in no way helpful and in my opinion people who use them should be treated the same way to see if they like it.
  • I think they were uncalled for. He was kicking the dogs even when they were behaving and in doing this he was getting the reaction that he was probably looking for in the first place.
  • The methods used were outdated and brutal and this is no way to treat an animal, and he has got himself fame and fortune for teaching people wrong methods of training.
  • I think of him as a cruel dog trainer and I would never let him take my dog or any of my family or friends dogs. And I would never call this man a dog trainer.
  • Not necessary in ANY way.

2. Can you see any problems that might arise if people try these methods?

  • They might get bitten, they might not train the dogs right, although some people might not like it some people might try to copy them, meaning even more dogs get treated in a bad way.
  • I think if people use these methods then the dogs will bite them.
  • A lot of pent up anxiety, frustration and aggression that will have to be released some time
  • Yes. People might end up getting bit due to shady treatment and in the long run it is dogs who will suffer and get a bad name, all because of bad treatment.
  • If people try these training methods they could lose the bond and trust you have with a dog not to mention the fact the dog might bite your hand off and the dog might become fearful of everyone.
  • Yes. Dogs can be worse and end up biting their owners or other dogs.
  • Dogs are more fearful and therefore might attack.

3.  What did you notice about the dogs’ behaviour? What do you think the dog learnt from the training session?

  • Anxious, stressful, fear, upset, did not want to be there, agitated, the dog learned nothing and became more scared, more fear.
  • I think the dogs got aggressive when he was kicking them. The dogs were also anxious and scared. I don’t think the dog learned anything.
  • That it will be battered if it does not do as it is told, even if it doesn’t understand what it is being asked to do. And so gives the dog more fear and causes more aggressive behaviour.
  • The dogs were often calm at first, then got kicked and got aggressive. What would you do if it happened to you? The dogs learnt nothing good!
  • A lot of the dogs it shows you in the show are standing, doing nothing wrong then suddenly gets a snidely kick to the stomach/ groin area. IT’S BANG OUT OF ORDER!
  • The dog didn’t learn anything apart from being abused in a cruel way.
  • To be scared of the trainer – nothing more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our student’s opinions on this topic. We feel it is a very positive outcome for the young men taking part in this project that they are able to see the potential problems with techniques which cause fear and distress, and are able to empathise with the dogs’ situation. It is very reassuring to think that the dogs’ they own in the future will be treated compassionately and fairly, and that they will promote the use of kind training methods to others too.

We also hope you enjoy gaining an insight into the teaching content on the Paws for Progress course, and look forward to sharing more news with you soon.

Do you think this is worth celebrating?

Our First Year Review and Exciting News!

Wow – can you believe it has now been over one year since we introduced the ‘Paws for Progress’ course at HM YOI Polmont, in August 2011? It seems to have flown by, and yet when we look at what we have achieved in our first year, it has been a very productive period!

We have been so busy with the end of year reports and the exciting new changes to the dog training course, but we will be now be able to share all our news with you again… so watch out for more blog updates coming soon!

The impressive development of the Paws for Progress project is due to the fabulous support we have received; from our project partners, the Scottish Prison Service, Dogs Trust and the University of Stirling, and from so many other great organisations too. Our thanks go to our funders, The R S Macdonald Trust, Dogs Trust,The Robertson Trust, the Robert Barr Trust, The Cross Trust, John Watson’s Trust and the Nancie Massey Charitable Trust, all of whom made it possible for us to put our plans into action and improve the outcomes of the young people and dogs who are involved. We hope you enjoy hearing about the positive impact it is having.

Our key aims for the young men taking part are to improve behaviour and employability skills, and enhance educational engagement. We also expect to assist in their personal development, thereby having a positive impact on their overall progress.  Similarly, our aims for the dogs we work with are to improve their behaviour and wellbeing, and increase their chances of being successfully rehomed. For more details on the project format, please look at the ‘About’ section of this page.

Our First Year Review

Within our first year (August 2011 – August 2012), we completed four cycles of the course at HM YOI Polmont. The project will be the subject of a comprehensive 3 year review. In the meantime, we are pleased to share our initial observations, which are very positive.

There is great enthusiasm to take part, and the motivation and commitment demonstrated by our students has been very impressive. There were 24 young men who took part in Paws for Progress in the first year (6 new students per course); 14 of these continued to support us post-graduation as peer mentors and volunteer assistants, demonstrating the high commitment to the project (i.e. everyone who could continue did so). Measures of employability skills have shown substantial improvements, and of our 9 graduates who returned to the community, 6 are in employment and another is engaged in voluntary work experience.

Due to the high level of engagement demonstrated by our students, we introduced educational qualifications in the second course (November 2011), which were developed to meet the requirements of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).  We began with an SQA Award in Personal Development, which all of our students have since successfully completed. In early 2012, Paws for Progress developed a partnership with Carnegie College, and began to contextualise SQA Awards in Communications within the coursework. Since then, our students have worked very hard to achieve new qualifications; from units in reading, writing, speaking and listening, to Core Skills units in Communication. And by August 2012 there were an impressive 88 SQA Educational Qualifications achieved in total, gained by the 18 students who took part since we introduced the SQA Awards.

The post-course interviews indicate improvements in social competencies, including communication skills, problem solving abilities, patience and management of emotions. In addition, the young men indicated that they had felt a real sense of accomplishment, gained from the achievement of targets and goals, and from seeing the improvements in the dogs they worked with, giving them improved confidence in their abilities.

And the dogs?

The young men who have taken part have formed very affectionate bonds with the dogs, and are very committed to helping the dogs in their care. The dogs in turn appear very enthusiastic about attending the training sessions, and after a morning of undivided attention and training with their handlers they return to the rehoming centre appearing relaxed and content. All 17 of the dogs who worked towards the APDT Good Companion Awards achieved them successfully. Dogs Trust staff report that the dogs’ behaviour in the rehoming centre is noticeably improved, and when meeting people, their increased sociability increases their appeal to adopters. There were 47 dogs who took part in the first year, and 41 of these were rehomed by August 2012, including some long term Dogs Trust residents – a great result. Their handlers were absolutely thrilled to know their dogs were going to loving homes, and really appreciate all the lovely letters and pictures which have been sent in by their new families.

What they say…

“It’s very rewarding, definitely. I watched her (his dog) getting a lot more trust in us, because I was always good to her. I rewarded her when she done good stuff and then she learnt! And then she kept learning more about stuff, like manners and walking on the lead, she learnt quick. And now she’s been rehomed. And it felt good, I actually felt proud of myself, and proud of her in all.”

 “I thought it was excellent – for me and for the dog – we both changed a lot. It’s useful in so many ways. And it’s made me grow up a wee bit, and actually look to the future and think about what I could do.”

“It helps you, because training dogs helps you learn about people too. If a person gets something wrong, you shouldn’t lash out either. You learn how to manage your emotions – in a positive way.”

“I can’t believe how much I learnt and achieved from Paws for Progress in such a short time. I think I learnt more here than I did in nine years at school!”

“The course is great, it’s the best, as good as it gets. The only thing is, we really need our own area to make it right, and well, we need more time with the dogs, so we can help them more.”

Students, Paws for Progress 2012.

So what is the news?

The results described in our review are so impressive that both the Scottish Prison Service and Dogs Trust are increasing the resources dedicated to support Paws for Progress. In addition to our customised van, we are now building a dedicated work area for the project, with all the equipment needed for kennelling and training, even including a veterinary area for health checks (our thanks to Broadleys Veterinary Hospital for donating equipment). With the increased staff support provided, we will now be able to increase the number of training sessions per week, and increase the opportunities available to participants.

Our partnership with Carnegie College has led to further development of the educational aspect of the course, and the level of student engagement has greatly exceeded our expectations. We are therefore increasing the qualifications available, to include more Core Skills such as ‘Numeracy’, ‘IT‘ and ‘Working with Others’ – important for future employment, and as ever, made relevant by being contextualised in the work we do with the dogs. As a realistic work environment, we hope to introduce vocational qualifications in Animal Care, as well as increasing the employment experience available through offering a full time course.

Our students will have more opportunity to develop the dogs’ portfolios and promotional material, improving their chances of finding new homes. The changes to the format will mean more participants can take part than previously anticipated (very positive given the high demand for course places). And similarly, the dogs will be able to attend more often, giving more opportunity for one-to-one attention, positive training and socialisation…Great news for everybody!

Special thanks to our students and the staff at both HM YOI Polmont and Dogs Trust West Calder Rehoming Centre who are directly involved with the project and provide such excellent help and support.

Can you BELIEVE this???

We have now started the fourth Paws for Progress course, at HM YOI Polmont, working with dogs from the local Dogs Trust West Calder Rehoming Centre. Most of our students who completed the previous course with us have continued onto this course, acting as peer mentors to new students, and volunteering as class assistants to ensure our sessions run smoothly. This system works very effectively, both by providing the advancing students with additional skills, and by providing additional teaching support for our new recruits.

So what’s the problem??

These continuing students approached me at the start of this course, to discuss four of the dogs we have been working with. These dogs – Harvey, Will, Jake and Quito – have all been involved with us throughout the last course, and despite the very best efforts of the great team of staff at Dogs Trust AND our students, they are STILL WAITING to find homes.

The students who have worked with these dogs cannot understand why no one has offered them a loving home. And frankly, neither can I. Perhaps it’s because they don’t look ‘cuddly’ – yet we assure you that they are all very affectionate, even if they are bit big to fit on your knee! Consider this…

  • All of these dogs are young and healthy, with lovely temperaments.
  • All of these dogs have received substantial training and socialisation, and have all the life skills needed to be well mannered and a pleasure to be with.
  • In addition to the stunning posters and descriptions of the dogs on display at the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre, there are detailed records of these dogs progress written by their handlers, so visitors can find out everything they need to know about them.
  • All of these dogs have passed their APDT Good Companion Awards.

So, as these dogs begin yet another course with us, the handlers who have been trying so hard to help find these dogs homes asked if we could try something new to help people see what amazing dogs they are. The descriptions below were written by their handlers at Paws for Progress….

Read these, and then tell us if you can believe these dogs have all been waiting so long to find a loving home??

Harvey’s handler says

Harvey is without a doubt the best dog I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He loves learning new tricks and our training sessions are always fun. Harvey is always full of surprises and never fails to make me smile.

Harvey is a 3 year old male Staffy-cross, he has a sandy / tan colour coat with a white belly, face and paws, and is without a doubt the best looking dog in Dogs Trust.  Harvey has been on the Paws for Progress course and receiving one-to-one training for 6 months now and is coming on great. He has learnt so much and completed all the training plans I have prepared for him to perfection, proving what a clever dog he is and I am very proud of him.

As well as learning some super cool tricks such as ‘give-a-kiss’, ‘crawl’ and ‘rollovers’, Harvey has also passed his APDT Good Companion Award, which consists of lots of key skills, such as: sit, lie down, leave it, recalls, play manners and many more.  At the moment I am working on target training with Harvey, this is an advanced level of dog training and he has been doing amazingly well.

Harvey is a great dog to be around, and enjoys being around people too, as he loves getting lots of attention. He is also great with other dogs, especially the ladies, it must be his super muscly build, well he has got a body from Baywatch!  Harvey really enjoys going for nice long walks and playing ‘tug’ with his rope toy and football with his tennis ball – yes, mad I know,  but that’s Harvey for you.

As much as I would miss him I would really love to see Harvey get rehomed. He really deserves a loving, caring home and I hope to help him find one very soon.  Harvey is a very likable dog and you will fall in love with him very quickly. If you think you can give Harvey all the things he requires, please adopt him, you won’t regret it. And one last thing. Harvey’s most favourite thing in the world is…. PEANUT BUTTER! He absolutely loves it and it makes an excellent treat for him when he’s been a good boy.

For more information on Harvey please contact Dogs Trust West Calder Rehoming Centre (there are TWO full folders of information about Harvey at the centre for you to see!).

*****UPDATE: Harvey was rehomed on 28.06.12. He is doing great in his new home, and his handler is so pleased. ******

Will’s handler says

Will is a 3 year old lurcher with a tanned coloured coat and is a bit of a looker and he knows it! He will strike a pose when he is lying around and when he is chasing some attention.

Will is a very energetic dog who loves nothing more than long runs, fetch and tug of war. He enjoys running around more than anything and is very fast. He would definitely give Usain Bolt a run for his money.

Will is very well mannered and polite. He enjoys socializing and gets on well with everyone he meets. He loves being clapped and lots of attention but he doesn’t crave it, he won’t jump up or get in anyone’s face he’s just a big sook!

Will would prefer a home with a loving family with a big secure garden or somewhere close where he could be let off the lead to burn some energy and have long runs.

So hopefully Will is the dog for you. He is bored being locked up in his kennel and waiting around seeing other dogs come and go. He would make a brilliant pet for the family.

How can you resist this lovely dog?!  PLEASE contact the Dogs Trust West Calder Rehoming Centre and ask about Will.
 

****UPDATE: Will was rehomed on 07.06.12. He is loved very much by his new family, and his handler is very happy.****

Jake’s handler says

Jake is about 1 year old. He is a big dog for only being 1. Jake is a ridgeback cross and he is a golden tanned dog. Jake can be playful at times and is very strong. He is a friendly dog and is calm (unless there’s an especially good toy in sight). Jake is a very good natured dog and is very loveable. Maybe Jake looks like a bit of a fierce dog but he is the total opposite, he is a big softy and great to be around!

Jake is a great dog for listening to your basic commands. He really enjoys all the training and he has been working hard. He even passed his Good Companion award, with flying colours!

I hope Jake gets a nice owner and good home as he so deserves it with all the hard work he has put in.

Please contact the Dogs Trust West Calder Rehoming Centre to find out more about Jake.

 

Quito’s handler says

Quito is a two year old staffy cross and is black and tan in colour and is very playful and will go really well in a home with young people or older children (teenagers), who will play and love the dog. He gets on well with other dogs, although he sometimes gets a bit over excited to see dogs he doesn’t know.

Quito is a very clever dog who works hard for treats or toys and he has also passed his Good Companion Award. He LOVES being busy and learns very quickly, and he would go everywhere with you if he could.

Quito is very affectionate, and is also great at meeting new people. He is really popular with everyone on the course, we just can’t understand why he hasn’t found a home yet.

Please contact the Dogs Trust West Calder Rehoming Centre to find out more about this great dog.

Please help us draw attention to these lovely dogs; it would make their handlers so happy to know their hard work has paid off, and their dogs can move onto happy futures in loving homes.

For further information on any of the dogs who have taken part in Paws for Progress, please contact the Dogs Trust West Calder Centre, who will be happy to provide full details regarding the individual dogs involved.