Less than two weeks until ‘The Value of Human Animal Interactions’!

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We are thrilled to announce that Blair Dummond Safari Park will be our headline sponsor at our upcoming event, ‘The Value of Human Animal Interactions‘.

This will be a truly amazing event, in which we will consider the value of positive interactions between people and animals, exploring the mutually beneficial effects of these connections. With less than two weeks to go, there are still some spaces remaining, so don’t miss out – book your ticket now!


We have been updating our ‘Value of Human Animal Interactions’ event page and releasing further details of the exciting schedule planned for this two day event.This includes speaker profiles and details of the fantastic workshops we have lined up, as well as details of the social events in the evening.

We will continue to release further details here as we approach the event. You can also keep up to date on the latest news about the event via the Value of Human Animal Interactions event page on Facebook, or via Paws for Progress on Facebook or Twitter.

Blair Drummond Safari Park

We are very grateful for the support of our main sponsor, Blair Drummond Safari Park, who do excellent work to promote animal welfare and educate and inspire young people. Blair Drummond Safari Park will also be represented in our interactive workshops, showcasing their valuable contribution to animal welfare and education.

We are thrilled to have such support for this event, with so many wonderful organisations represented across the two days, sharing best practise and expertise in Human Animal Interactions and showcasing the innovative and inspiring work happening here in the UK. This event also provides an exclusive opportunity to gain an in depth understanding of Paws for Progress development and the results of the evaluation of the first prison based dog training programme in the UK.

Very soon, we will be welcoming our delegates to the stunning venue at the Stirling Court Hotel and sharing this brilliant experience with you all. Please contact us for any further information about the event; we look forward to seeing you there soon!


Unleashing Potential

Summer Update 2015

Paws circle logo We’re delighted to have the opportunity to update you on recent developments at Paws for Progress. It has been a busy and productive year so far, and we have lots to share about the Human Animal Interaction and training programmes that we provide for people and animals who need our support.

Unleash potential Our prison based rescue dog training programme has gone from strength to strength, and thanks to the Big Lottery Young Start Fund and Comic Relief we were able to increase our staff team this year. We’re also delivering new projects for young people in the community and expanding our services to new contexts. In July we hosted the first of a series of Paws for Progress events, a dog training seminar and we look forward to hosting our first two day event The Value of Human Animal Interactions on the 18th and 19th of September 2015.

Paws for Progress – Unleashing Potential: Developments

Paws at Polmont Ghillie

We continue to be extremely grateful to the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) for the excellent support provided to our rescue dog training programme at HM YOI Polmont. In addition to providing a full-time member of prison staff for the cou rse the SPS have also fully refurbished our training area. We welcomed our students back to our new purpose built facilities in April, and the 2nd cycle of 2015 is now underway.


Outcomes for both the people and dogs involved in our project continue to be very positive, and our excellent partnerships with Fife College and the University of Stirling continue to prove invaluable.

PFP van 1

Thank you also to The Clothworkers’ Foundation and Foundation Scotland for their generous funding of our new vehicle, enabling us to transport rescue dogs to and from the project at Polmont.

We are ever grateful to our generous funders such as The Robertson Trust who provide us with the resources to maintain and enhance our existing projects and to develop new initiatives.

New initiatives in Scottish prisons

We are keen to continue our excellent partnership with the Scottish Prison Service and extend our services to priority groups in custody throughout Scotland. Our user led and outcome focussed approach to the development of human animal interaction programmes mean that there is great interest in the ways in which our services can address the issues faced by ex-offenders, whilst also providing mutual benefits to the community.We are therefore in the exploratory stage of multiple new developments and look forward to updating our supporters with more details later this year.

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Following the success of our prison based rescue dog training programme we are now developing and delivering services in the community. There is great potential for our services in a preventative setting, working with school and community groups, providing valuable opportunities for engagement with services through positive Human Animal Interactions.

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Since May 2015 we have been working in partnership with Barnardo’s Scotland in Edinburgh to provide an innovative Human Animal Interaction programme for young people aged 12-17 with additional support needs. We work closely with the Barnardo’s Scotland team to enhance the excellent support they provide, focusing on helping the young people to improve their confidence, skills and abilities whilst engaging positively with learning.The results and response to the course have been extremely positive.

I feel AMAZING each day when I leave

Student, Paws at Barnardo’s, 2015

In our community projects, we involve our team of trained staff dogs who enjoy interacting with young people. The students learn about dog behaviour, care and positive reinforcement training, and participate in fun interactive activities with the dogs, including agility.

He has grown in confidence, developed peer relationships and more trust in adults as well as developing skills required for group work

Support worker, Paws at Barnardos, 2015.

Following the success of our pilot project with Barnardo’s Scotland we look forward to continuing to provide services for young people in the community, with several new developments due to begin this Autumn – more details coming soon.

Development Summary

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As you can see, Paws for Progress is taking a preventative approach with young people in the community in addition to a rehabilitative approach within custodial settings, and retains a strong focus on enabling the successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the community. Our initiatives are designed to be mutually beneficial, providing direct benefits to participating dogs and providing valuable education to increase understanding and improve the care provided to dogs, thereby having a significant impact on the welfare of many more dogs in the UK. Our programmes also provide considerable benefits to society, by engaging our participants in charitable activities which encourage pro-social identities, unleashing the potential of young people and ex-offenders to contribute positively to their communities.

Events & Fundraising


Thank you to all of our speakers and guests who attended our July seminar last month, it was an excellent evening and going forward, we will be holding several seminars a year on a variety of topics, with a focus on Human Animal Interactions (HAI). Keep an eye on our seminar page here as well as our Facebook page for details about upcoming seminars.  

The Value of Human Animal Interactions

We are thrilled to be hosting a two day event focusing on “The Value of Human Animal Interactions” on the 18th and 19th of September. This is a brilliant opportunity for practitioners and those interested in Human Animal Interactions (HAI) to connect with experts in the field, share knowledge and advance their professional development by taking part in interactive workshops and attending talks from a range of excellent speakers. See our events page for more details, including early bird rates (available until 14th August so book soon!).

Paws Merchandise


We recently launched our new merchandise range with the sale of Paws for Progress bandanas for dogs, which have been going down well with our canine friends. If you would like to purchase a bandana then please email us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk

Amazon Wish List

We are particularly grateful to the wonderful supporters who have donated hundreds of pounds worth of items from our Amazon Wish List. We were blown away by the amazing response following our appeals for treats, toys, harnesses and educational books for our courses.Thank you for your generous donations; we hope our supporters will continue to help us by visiting our Amazon Wish List and providing valuable resources for our students.

Caledonian Challenge

Our thanks to our supporters who raised £300 earlier this year volunteering as marshals at the Caledonian Challenge. This is an annual event held in June to raises money for Foundation Scotland, providing smaller businesses with funding and support.

If you would like to help Paws for Progress fundraise then please do get in touch with your ideas and get involved – see ‘Contact us‘ for details.

Education & Research

Stirling Human Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre

We are proud to be working closely with the University of Stirling as they move forward with several exciting developments in Human Animal Interactions. From September onwards the University is launching a new taught Postgraduate course, the MSc in “Human Animal Interaction”. Details for this unique course are available on the University website. The new MSc will coincide with the development of the Stirling Human-Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre, to be launched later this year. We are thrilled to be continuing our excellent partnership with the University and supporting these exciting new endeavours.

Research and Evaluation

Rebecca Leonardi, our Founding Director, has been collecting and analysing data from the Paws at Polmont course over a three year period. She is now at the final stages of writing up her PhD thesis which is titled “Paws for Progress: The development and evaluation of a prison based dog training programme”. We are looking forward to sharing the results with our partners, funders and supporters over the next few months at stakeholder meetings and our events. This research has particular value as it provides the first evidence of the effectiveness of HAI Interventions in custodial settings in the UK. With the support of the University of Stirling we will continue to monitor all of our services to ensure they are effective and meet the needs of our participants, remaining outcome focussed in our service development.

Further updates

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We were honoured to welcome the Earl of Wessex to our dog training course during his recent visit to HM YOI Polmont. It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to share their experiences working with the rescue dogs, and we feel privileged to have had such a distinguished visitor take an interest in the work that we do. During the visit to our facilities he met the young men who are taking part in the current programme and observed a training display with the dogs. The visit was a great success and we are very grateful to the Earl for his interest and time.

Thank you to our partners, supporters and funders

As ever we are very thankful for the many individuals and organisations that support our work, including the range of guest speakers who visit Paws at Polmont and the many organisations that provide work experience and volunteering. We would also like to thank all of those organisations who have provided funding to us; without you we could not carry out the crucial work that we do (see here for a list of our funders, partners and supporting organisations).

Our thanks to all our supporters for helping us achieve our aims; enhancing the wellbeing of people and animals, and promoting and supporting positive human animal interactions.

With best wishes from all the team at Paws for Progress – we look forward to updating you further soon.

Event schedule now available for “The Value of Human Animal Interactions”

Paws for Progress is proud to present the preliminary programme for our exciting upcoming event “The Value of Human Animal Interactions” which will be held on Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th of September at the Stirling Court Hotel. This is a brilliant opportunity for practitioners and those interested in Human Animal Interactions (HAI) to connect with experts in the field, share knowledge and advance their Continuing Professional Development by taking part in interactive workshops and attending talks from a range of excellent speakers. We will be focusing on the value of HAI within a variety of settings including healthcare, education and rehabilitation.

Follow the following link to see our full preliminary programme

For more details on the event see our event page

Please get in touch with us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk with any enquiries.


We have guest speakers attending from organisations based throughout the UK, you can find out more about the organisations they are involved in by clicking on the links below.

Rebecca Leonardi, Paws for Progress

Elizabeth Ormerod, SCAS and IAHAIO

Belinda Johnston, Our Special Friends

Joanne Williams, The University of Edinburgh

Lesley Winton, Fostering Compassion

Selina Gibsone, Dogs for the Disabled

Tracie FaaThompson,Turn about Pegasus

Kerri Bee, SPPOT

Ruby Shorrock, The Trusty Paws Clinic

Marion Janner, Star Wards

Jeni Lennox, Dementia Dog

Katie Bristow, People & Animals


We look forward to welcoming you to our event this September

“The Value of Human Animal Interactions” Event

Sept event

The Value of Human Animal Interactions

Paws for Progress are delighted to invite you to join us at our exciting two day event coming up in September, where we and our guests will explore the incredible relationship that people have with animals and the mutual value of positive Human Animal Interactions to both parties involved.

On Friday 18th and Saturday 19th of September, Paws for Progress are hosting an event focusing on “The Value of Human Animal Interactions” at the Stirling Court Hotel.  This exciting two day event gives us the chance to bring together multiple organisations and individuals with similar interests from around the country. It will be a brilliant opportunity to share details on the development and evaluation of our positive Human Animal Interaction programmes at Paws for Progress, and to hear about the development of other organisations and projects within the Human Animal Interaction and Animal Assisted Intervention fields.

Unleash potential

The event will provide valuable networking opportunities, engaging workshops and talks from an excellent range of guest speakers who will discuss the value of Human Animal Interactions within a variety of settings including healthcare, education and the community.Featuring talks from Rebecca Leonardi (Paws for Progress / University of Stirling), Elizabeth Ormerod (SCAS), Jo Williams (University of Edinburgh), Belinda Johnston (Our Special Friends) and Lesley Winton (Fostering Compassion).

Interactive workshops will be facilitated by representatives from a range of organisations including Turn about Pegasus, Dogs for the Disabled, Dementia Dog, Star Wards, SPPOT, People and Animals and many more.  We are truly delighted to have so many fantastic organisations involved!

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For more information about the event then please click here and to book tickets click here. Early Bird tickets are currently available, so please don’t hesitate; book now while this fantastic offer lasts!

There will also be the opportunity for organisations attending the event to set up stalls, free of charge, at the event. If you are interested in doing so then please email us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk for more information.

We look forward to welcoming you soon for an excellent two days of learning and sharing experiences.

With best wishes,

The Paws for Progress Team.

Human-Animal Interaction

The University of Stirling is offering a new Masters programme in Human-Animal Interaction (HAI), commencing September 2015. The University’s taught MSc/postgraduate diploma courses provide excellent training for a research career or for professional development.University of Stirling

This course introduces a broad range of topics and considers human-animal interactions across contexts, from pet owning to animal assisted interventions, zoos, farms and conservation. It will cover interdisciplinary approaches and a diverse range of methods used to research our relationships with other species.

For more information please see http://www.stir.ac.uk/postgraduate/programme-information/prospectus/psychology/humananimalinteraction/

Psychology at Stirling was ranked 3rd in Scotland (and 18th in the UK) in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and was one of only four UK institutions ranked as outstanding for research impact. The division has a vibrant research culture and offers exciting opportunities for taught postgraduate students to integrate with the research community.

Ellie H5Paws for Progress was developed in partnership with the University of Stirling, and we continue to be grateful for their excellent support. We are really excited to be involved in the development of the Stirling Human-Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre and will continue to work in partnership to evaluate our initiatives.

Human-Animal Interaction is a vital field of research. Humans share this planet with other animals, and our interactions are at the core of our everyday lives. For many of us, animals are considered members of HAIour family, both living with us and sharing in our lives. We farm and eat animals, we keep them as working companions (e.g. guide dogs), as models for humans in laboratory research (e.g. disease and toxicology), use them in therapeutic contexts, and in education, entertainment and ecotourism. Depending upon our perceptions and attitudes towards animals, and in relation to the impact they have on us and the environment, we may actively attempt to understand them, conserve them, domesticate them or eradicate them. Despite the ubiquitous nature of human-animal interactions, and research that falls under this umbrella term, interdisciplinary links are rarely made, providing an incomplete understanding of the interactions, and the mechanisms underlying their costs and benefits.

As such SHAIR’s Mission is “to re-write our understanding of ways in which humans and animals interact, the mechanisms underlying the costs and benefits of interactions, and to develop methodology for evaluating interactions and promoting positive outcomes”.

Please share details of these exciting developments with others who are interested in Human-Animal Interactions and help build and strengthen this vitally important field of research.

Merry Christmas! What wonderful things await in 2015…

We’ve had a very exciting year here at Paws for Progress

Welcome to the ???????????????????????????????Paws for Progress Christmas blog post, where we will sum up another great year and give you a teaser of what we have planned for 2015! Thanks to the support of The Robertson Trust and the University of Stirling, we began the year by progressing from being a pilot project to gaining the status of Community Interest Company (CIC) in February which has opened the door to many more opportunities. We would like to thank our funders this year for their generous support; the Voluntary Action Fund, The Robertson Trust, the Big Lottery Scotland: Young Start Fund, The Cross Trust, The Nancie Massey Charitable Trust and The Tabhair Charitable Trust.

Summary of 2014

 In August, we celebrated the third anniversary since the Dog Training Course began operating at HM YOI Polmont. In this time, we have completed 12 cycles and 70 young men completed the course at HM YOI Polmont. 100% of the participants felt the course had been useful to them and responded positively about their experiences. The full evaluation will be completed early 2015, and we are looking forward to sharing the ensuing reports detailing the positive effects participating has for the young people and dogs involved.

Fundraising Successes

We have also had a very successful year of fundraising. In July, Tynewater Dog Training hosted an excellent seminar with Al Bunyan, with proceeds donated to Paws for Progress. Meanwhile this autumn Gary and Tracey, two of our wonderful Directors at Paws, ran more than 26 miles between them to raise money for Paws. Gary completed the great North run in September, while Tracey completed the Great Scottish Run Half Marawp28b51b52_06thon in October- a great effort from both.

Alongside some smaller fundraising initiatives and the Amazon Wish List this brings the total raised this year for Paws for Progress up to over £4,000 – amazing work and a huge thank you from all at Paws, your commitment and hard work is truly appreciated by everyone involved!

Christmas Fundraising

Christmas is approaching fast, and it would be fantastic if ???????????????????????????????you could help us raise money for Paws for Progress when you’re shopping online. If you sign up to support us on easyfundraising.org then you can shop with any of over 2,700 retailers and a percentage of what you spend is donated to Paws for Progress at no additional cost to you. Retailers include Amazon, John Lewis, eBay, Tesco and many more. In just a few short weeks our supporters have already raised over £60 which is a fantastic achievement in such a short period, so please do sign up and get involved and let’s see if we can hit our target of £100 by Christmas!

You can also mojo2help us raise money when you’re browsing the internet by supporting us on easysearch.org and use it instead of your usual search engine. There is now the opportunity for you to buy branded Paws for Progress merchandise, either for yourself or as a Christmas gift! For every item purchased from our web-shop we receive a  commission, so not only will you look great promoting Paws for Progress with your branded purchases but you’ll be giving money to a good cause too. Visit our webshop to browse a variety of products including mugs, hoodies, t-shirts and dog tags. Check out our mascot Mojo modelling his hoodie!

Many thanks for your support

Also a huge thank you to all the individuals who support us, your interest and kind support really makes all the difference! Our hardworking students would like to thank you, and from the letter below you can really see what a difference your support makes and how much it is appreciated:

“To all those who help Paws for Progress,

All of the students at Polmont HM YOI would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for your support over the last few years.

If we didn’t have your support then this course would be nowhere near as good as it is. Thanks to you we are able to buy in lots of training tools like clickers, leads, treat bags, treats, toys etc. which means the dogs that we work with would not have such a good experience without it. Thanks from all the boys.”

Paws for Progress students, 2014

If you would like to make a donation of any of the items mentioned in the message above then please visit our Amazon Wish List!

Plans for 2015

Our final course of the year has now drawn to a close, and we are now preparing our workshop at Polmont for refurbishment. This is a really exciting development which will provide us with new, purpose built facilities for our indoor training sessions, and we are really looking forward to using the facilities. This is part of a significant investment in the learning environment at HM YOI Polmont. The refurbishment is due to be completed by March, when the course will resume better than ever. We truly appreciate the excellent support which has been provided to the project by our partners the Scottish Prison Service. We are really excited to be involved in the creation of the learning environment at Polmont and contributing to the Young People’s Strategy: Successful Learners, Confident Individuals, Responsible Citizens, Effective Contributors.

In the New Year we will be fast approaching our one year anniversary as a Community Interest Company. Now that we have a secure core of dedicated directors and a growing team of staff we are looking to expand our services further, enabling us to help more people and animals. This will include raising funds by running events which you can get involved with, and we will also be hosting conferences, training days and workshops. More details on the topics which will be covered, dates and how to get involved will be included in our next newsletter and regular updates here on our blog o watch this space.

If you are interested in attending one of our events and would like to be on our mailing list to receive information please contact us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk with your details and we’ll get in touch with news about our upcoming events.

In 2014 we had the pleasure of visiting Meadowbank Library in Falkirk to give a talk on the work that Paws for Progress carries out, which was a great opportunity to connect with the local community. If you are interested in having us provide a talk about Paws for Progress then please get in touch. We are also thrilled to be working in partnership with the University of Stirling in developing the new Stirling Human-Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre.  This means that the new initiatives and services we provide will also be carefully evaluated to guide their development and ensure the needs of our clients are met. There will also be a new MSc course in Human-Animal Interactions at the University of Stirling from 2015. More details coming soon…

All in all there are plenty of promising opportunities waiting for us in 2015, and we can’t wait to carry on growing and continuing the success of 2014.

A Merry Christmas to you all from everyone at Paws for Progress, we look forward to updating you on our new ventures in 2015!


Exciting times…

We have been busy as ever over the summer months and have even more great news to share from Paws for Progress!

Firstly, we are very pleased to announce our successful grant awarded from the Big Lottery Scotland: Young Start Fund. This grant is vital to ensuring our project at HM YOI Polmont continues to operate successfully, by funding the post of our Course Instructor. When announcing the grants awarded, Chair of Big Lottery Fund Scotland, Maureen McGinn, said: “Young Start helps ensuyoungstartre that Scotland’s next generation has the best possible start in life”; we share this ambition and look forward to reporting more success in achieving this as the project continues.


Thanks to the Volunteering Support Grant provided by the Voluntary Action Fund, we have also now recruited for the post of Support Officer for the Paws for Progress team. Our Support Officer will provide additional support to young men volunteering in the community, ensuring their skills are VAF LOGO put to good use and assisting the students to use the skills, learning and qualifications they gain from volunteering post release to effectively demonstrate their “work readiness”.


Two of our Directors at Paws for Progress CIC are also helping raise funds for Paws For Progress by running in sponsored events. Please help support their great efforts by following the links below to their sponsorship pages:



Gary Waddell – Great North Run – 7th Sept


Tracey McLennan – Great Scottish Run Half Marathon – 5th Oct



We are very grateful to all our partners, funders and supporters for the help they provide, ensuring we can continue to deliver our services and improve the outcomes of the young people and dogs involved. Please see our ‘About’ section for further details.

We are also thrilled to be working alongside the University of Stirling to develop the new and exciting Stirling Human-Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre. Our partnership with SHAIR will ensure rigorous evaluations are built into all new developments, whilst also expanding our knowledge and understanding in the field of Human-Animal Interactions (HAI). In addition, a new postgraduate course will be developed in Psychology at the University of Stirling, complimenting the range of taught MSc / postgraduate diploma courses which provide training for a research career or for professional development. This exciting new development means that from 2015, the MSc in Human Animal Interactions will be available at the University of Stirling. Please contact the Psychology Office at the University of Stirling for more information.

Thank you for your interest and support; we look forward to sharing more news soon.

Paws for Progress CIC

Enhancing the well-being of people and animals

Promoting and supporting positive human-animal interactions