So much Pawsitive news to share!

Here at Paws for Progress, we have a LOT of exciting news to share… Read on to find out more about latest developments at Paws for Progress, the benefits of Human Animal Interactions, and ways in which you can get involved!

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Interested in joining the Paws team?

DSCN3164There is currently a unique opportunity to join our staff team through the rewarding role of Community Officer, generously funded for the coming 3 years by BBC Children In Need.

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Over the next three years, this funding will allow Paws for Progress to employ a full-time Community Officer to deliver Unleashing Potential, a project matching trained dogs with young people who often find social situations challenging. Building on the success of a
pilot programme launched last year, the group will engage under 18s with additional support needs (including those with ADHD, dyspraxia and autism), in positive activities with dogs to enhance social contact, improve communication skills and increase engagement with education.

DSCN2990At the project, participants learn about dog behaviour, care and positive reinforcement training. Each session includes a mix of theory and practice, and in addition to working individually with their dogs, youngsters will have a chance to work in groups with their peers, all of which creates multiple opportunities for learning. The service is also youth-led, which means that that the project is constantly learning from its participants and responding to their individual needs. Young people benefit from an improved attitude toward education and a real boost to their confidence.  DSCN3162

Speaking of the new funding Rebecca Leonardi, the Development Manager at Paws for Progress, said: “Many of the young people who come to our project have additional behavioural, emotional or social needs and this can affect how they interact in different environments. In some cases, even engaging in education can be challenging. At Paws for Progress we feel passionate about the benefits of human – animal interaction. You can clearly see the change in our young people when they come into contact with the dogs – they become more relaxed, happier and therefore receptive to new experiences. With this funding from BBC Children in Need we can work to reach even more young people, making a positive difference to their lives.”

DSCN3040Our community services for children and young people have been hugely successful and we are delighted to be able to delegate a full-time member of staff to continue this excellent work.

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The application deadline is this Friday (26th August), find out more and apply online here.

 

 

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Our good friends at Dogs for Good are also recruiting in Scotland!

Follow the links to find our more about the roles of Assistance Dog Instructor or Project Manager.

 

 

Find out more about Human Animal Interactions at our conference

Following our very successful debut conference in 2015, we have listened to feedback and worked to further build upon your areas of interest to provide another inspiring and enjoyable conference this Autumn.

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“Huge thanks for an exceptionally fascinating, enjoyable & often moving conference.”

“This was genuinely the best conference I have ever attended, so inspiring.”

We invite you to join us on the 14th and 15th October 2016 at the Stirling Court Hotel to explore how interacting with animals can be beneficial for enhancing learning and health, and to find out about the excellent and innovative services provided across the UK.

There will be plenty of opportunities to network, and also the prospect of sharing your own work through table displays and / or a poster display outlining your own research in this area.

VHAI event.JPGWe recommend that anyone who is interested, either on a professional or personal level, in learning about the health, social, educational or rehabilitative benefits growing from human animal interactions would benefit from attending.

We will also be exploring key considerations for designing and evaluating HAI services, and providing some fun and interactive demonstrations for some added inspiration!

Don’t miss out on our discounted early bird tickets, available until the 31st August at the online shop. More information available on our event page.

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Pioneering services for women in custody

This year we have been busy piloting and developing services for women in custody, an exciting new area of work for us which is going extremely well.DSCN3093

Following on from the success of Paws at HM YOI Polmont, there has been great interest in our services from women in custody. Our user led approach is ideal for targeting their unique and often complex needs.Since early 2016 we have been engaging with young women and adults across the establishment, including some of the most vulnerable women in the mental health unit.

We provide a structured course about dog training and care, facilitating enjoyable activities with dogs. The service aims to enhance mood of participants, enrich social skills and relationships with staff / peers, develop an understanding of dogs and animal care and help participants engage positively in education. Our students also develop skills relevant for employment and grow in confidence, impacting their well-being positively.13090353_10154032180071405_1116603273_n

We also provide drop in weekly sessions within the mental health unit, providing opportunities to interact positively with our team of trained dogs, in an animal assisted activity programme. These sessions have maximum flexibility and are responsive to the women’s interests and needs on each individual visit.

We initially piloted the service with young women at HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, providing a short programme that facilitated enjoyable activities with the Paws for Progress team of trained dogs.  The students taking part enjoyed the positive and supportive environment created through interacting with the dogs,  having the opportunity to learn about dog training and care whilst developing their own skills.

In response to the enthusiastic feedback we received from our students, we have now widened the course to make it available to women across the institution, and extended the opportunities available to women attending the structured course. Both the structured course and the drop in service have continued to enjoy great success with both the students and dogs responding very positively to the opportunities and very much enjoying working together.

Here is some of the wonderful feedback we have received so far:

“The animals keep me calm and focused.”
“Having the dogs here cheers everyone up!”
“I think it’s been really beneficial, it’s something really good and different for the block. It gives us something positive to do…”
“It’s good for your mental health too, being with the dogs.”
“It means such a lot to us, having an opportunity to be with the dogs.”
“It’s been fantastic, it’s been amazing.”
“It’s really helped my confidence, and helped me feel able to engage with other services too.”  Paws Participants, HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, 2016bonbon

“Paws for Progress provide HMP and YOI Cornton Vale with an excellent and flexible service. Interacting with the dogs and Paws for Progress staff became hugely important to the women. There were obvious and direct benefits to the women participating in the programmes. They increased their social interactions with each other and with staff. Their self-confidence increased as did their patience, and most importantly it gave them something to look forward to and treasure. Paws for Progress has been a great success within the prison and is a service that clearly has a very positive impact on all who use it.”
SPS Residential Unit Manager, HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, 2016.

Below is an example of the lovely written work that the students have chosen to complete outside of the practical sessions, a tribute to how dedicated and enthusiastic they are about the service.

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We look forward to providing more updates as these services for women develop further.

Play a valuable role in our successful fundraising campaign!

We need your help to support dogs taking part in our prison based rescue dog training programme. We’re currently working with many fantastic dog rescue organisations, supporting one another to help to prepare the dogs for being successfully rehomed.

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Lacey from Staffie Smiles Rescue, seeking a new home.

You can have a direct and valuable impact by donating to help towards the costs of providing our services, that we can then use to contribute towards the costs of kennelling fees for the fantastic rescues we are working with.

The easiest way of doing this is through Local Giving, where you can give a one off or monthly donation.  A £10 monthly donation significantly contributes towards the costs of one dog taking part for 2 days of the course.

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Charlie from The Underheugh Ark,  seeking a new home.

We would also love to see you in person at our fundraising events! We’re currently planning several seasonal quiz nights in both Stirling and Edinburgh, beginning with a Halloween themed quiz this October. More details coming soon.

Your next chance to join us will be on the 2nd September, where we will be pitching at Stirling Soup alongside 5 other innovative local organisations. You, the audience, will choose which organisation will be taking home the pot of donations! It would be great to see you there for this fun and friendly evening.

Thank you so much for your support, we are delighted that thanks to our dedicated supporters we have raised more than £3,500 through fundraising this year which has all gone towards providing our tailored Human Animal Interaction services, what a fantastic figure to have raised so far!

That’s all from us for now, we’ll be keeping you updated through social media over the coming months and look forward to sharing a winter warmer full of our latest good news (and more exciting new developments) later this year!

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!

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!

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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:

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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

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

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

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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  Paws for Progress 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 the Scottish Prison Service 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 our training team throughout our practical training sessions, and the Learning Support 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.

Quito - example slide

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 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.


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.