Happy 2 Year Anniversary!

Welcome to the first Paws for Progress CIC blogpost of 2016


We’re delighted that at Paws for Progress we have now reached our two year anniversary as a registered Community Interest Company! What a lot we have achieved in a short space of time. We hope that you enjoy reading about what we have been up to over the last year as we reflect on our successes, and we are also eager to share details about our new initiatives which are under development as the organisation evolves.
As always we remain hugely grateful to all of our generous funders and all the fantastic organisations who support us, and enable us to continue providing unique services to benefit children, young people and animals in need of support.

Over the last year, the organisation has continued to develop and grow in several innovative new directions. Our flagship service at HM YOI Polmont, where young offenders and rescue dogs work together towards better futures, continues to thrive and evolve, and we have some exciting news regarding the evaluation, demonstrating the positive impact that this service has.

Meanwhile, our community based services, which we started delivering in 2015, have been gaining momentum and receiving much interest. We are now working with a range of partners in the community, helping to change the lives of children and young people by engaging them in Human Animal Interaction services with our talented team of dogs. We take great pleasure in sharing our success stories so far in this spring newsletter.

Thank you all for your continued support and interest, our partners, supporters and volunteers play a hugely important role within the organisation and you really do make all the difference to the young people and animals we work with.


Paws at Polmont

We’d like to reflect on the excellent year we had in 2015. We had a great start to the year, with the renovation of our training area at HM YOI Polmont, the donation of new equipment for the rescue dogs and the purchase of a new vehicle for transporting the rescue dogs. Early in 2015 we also welcomed an additional member of full-time staff to the team in the new role of Training Instructor, who plays a key role supporting the dogs and students on the course.

We have also been developing fantastic relationships with a range of local dog rescue organisations, many of which are volunteer led, to help improve the behaviour and welfare of dogs in Scotland. Find out more about the dogs currently taking part in the training programme on our Facebook page.

Research evaluation

We are delighted that the evaluation of our flagship rescue dog training programme at HM YOI Polmont has now been completed! We will be disseminating the thesis more widely this year through a range of avenues including journal articles and engagement with the media.

We will be announcing which journals will be featuring articles from the evaluation on our website over the coming months, and will be able to share the full details following release of the publications. The key findings demonstrate evidence that the programme is very successful in meeting its aims, which are to:

a) improve behaviour (in the institutional environment and in the long term)

b) increase educational engagement (attitudes to learning, progress and achievements)

c) Develop employability skills (social competencies; emotional management; ability to work independently and as part of a team; responsibility and decision making; problem solving; working towards targets and goals)

d) Enhance well-being (motivation, self-efficacy and positive pro-social focus)

The comprehensive analyses of dog behaviour and welfare pre and post programme participation showed improvements in both, with effects enduring back in the shelter kennel environment. Almost all participating dogs were successfully rehomed.

You can contact us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk to be added to our mailing list for updates regarding the publication of research focusing on our services.



Community services

“I honestly believe that if I had been involved in Paws for Progress before coming to prison, I would not be here now.” Student, Paws at Polmont

“This is better than anything I have done… This group has helped me get over my fear of dogs and helped me to develop my skills in sharing and turn taking. The adults in the group have made me feel safe and listened to.” Student, Paws at Barnardo’s 2015.

Following on from the success of our prison based rescue dog training programme we are now providing services for children and young people (aged 8-17)  in the community, working with multiple partners including Barnardo’s Scotland and Mariner Support Service. There is great potential for our services in a preventative setting, working with school and community groups, to provide valuable opportunities for Animal Assisted Education and positive Human Animal Interactions.

The response to the services have been extremely positive, with both the young people and their support workers seeing positive change in our students’ social skills, well-being, attitude to education and belief in their own abilities.

Key to the success of our community services is our user led approach; each programme is carefully tailored to meet the unique needs of the young people taking part. We are dedicated to listening and responding to feedback from the young people and children we work with, meaning our services are constantly developing to ensure they are as effective as possible.

Our services involve a team of trained staff dogs, who all enjoy interacting with children and young people. In a mix of practical and theory work, the students learn about a range of dog focussed topics and participate in fun interactive activities with the dogs. These projects typically involve sessions one afternoon a week over 6 weeks for a group of 6-8 young people. Additionally, we provide opportunities for our students to continue engaging in our services. Find out more about our community services here.


Further updates

New developments

In addition to our services in the community we are in the early stages of developing a range of new prison based services to provide support and training for both female offenders and long term prisoners. We have been piloting services at HMP and YOI Cornton Vale since February, to which the response has been very positive. We have also begun delivering a series of seminar evenings at HMP Open Estate – Castle Huntly for prisoners, staff and members of the public, which we launched with a very successful Dog First Aid evening at the end of 2015.

There is huge potential for developing services which will benefit not only the service users but also dogs and members of the community. We look forward to seeing what we can achieve through expanding our partnership working with the Scottish Prison Service.

Events at Paws

In 2015 we launched our first ticketed events. In September we set the standard high at our first conference, “The Value of Human Animal Interactions“, which took place over 2 days at the University of Stirling and was kindly sponsored by Blair Drummond Safari Park.

Sign up to receive details on our events in 2016  at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk

Getting involved and  Fundraising

Our volunteers and supporters are a key part of the community we have built at Paws for Progress. If you would like to get involved in our community fundraising team or contribute in other ways then please see our supporters page here. We look forward to hearing from you!

Our fundraising for 2016 has got off to an excellent start with several excellent initiatives. This includes a hugely successful Live Music Night which was hosted by the University Of Stirling Live Music Society in March and raised £532, and a fantastic seminar evening “In Pain, Not Disobedient Nor Nasty” with guest speaker Professor Daniel Mills, which was hosted by Tynewater Dog Training and raised £1,200!

A huge thank you to all who have been involved in the wonderful fundraising events so far this year. To see what exciting fundraising events are coming up, check our events page here.

We look forward to updating you on our exciting service developments, events and other news soon. We can already tell that 2016 is going to be a great year for the organisation, and we are so grateful to all of our partners, funders and supporters who make it possible for us to continue improving the lives of more young people and animals. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up to date with our news until next time!


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

event 4

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!

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!

teach quote

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.

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


“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.