Sunday, March 14, 2010

A prison puppy update.

Here are some photos of the puppies on the Humane Society of Knox County's prison program K-9 Corrections. This is Patty at 9 weeks. (she is a gorgeous silver color which doesn't show well in this photo)
And this is Jack, her brother. They are shepherd/husky mixes. I don't think they will get very big. Maybe 45 lbs max if I had to guess at this point.

They are doing wonderfully so far. I am very impressed with the handlers and things seem to be going smoothly one week in. For those interested, the books we are currently using on the program are as follows:
Dr. Dunbars Good Little Dog Book by Dr. Ian Dunbar
How to teach a new dog old tricks also by Dr. Ian Dunbar
(Thank you James & Kenneth publishing for the donations of the titles above for the program)
Dog Friendly Dog Training by Andrea Arden
and 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy
I plan to add "Don't shoot the dog" by Karen Pryor and "The thinking dog - crossover to clicker training" by Gail Fisher as soon as I buy some extra copies. (P.S. Donations to the program are always appreciated. Most of the current educational materials of books and videos are my own that I lend out at this time.) It is very helpful that this time I have handlers who are excellent readers and enjoy reading. In the past I have had to work around reading issues with handlers.
Videos we are currently using are The power of training dogs with markers by Leerburg
and The Language of Dogs by Sarah Kalnajs
The tv shows I encourage the watching of are It's me or the dog by Victoria Stilwell, and Underdogs to Wonderdogs with Andrea Arden and Superfetch with Zak George.
For training techniques we use positive reinforcement methods of both lure reward training and marker (clickers/verbal) training.
This is our first time with young puppies. Normally we have either adults or adolescent dogs on the program. Needless to say there is already a LOT of interest in adoptions for these two sweeties.
I know not everyone likes the program. There is a not so small group of people out there that think prison should just be punishment for the inmates and having dogs or puppies there is the opposite of that. I can understand that thinking. But here is my rebuttal: This is a minimum security facility. It is the place the prisoners/inmates go just before they get released from serving their time. Shouldn't we give them skills that can help them make better decisions in their lives and teach them that they can change behavior without using physical force?? Working with dogs also teaches patience, another very useful skill in the real world. Not to mention this is about making the dogs we send to the program more adoptable. It is our goal to give the the dogs great skills for long term success with a family. And for those places doing this in maximum security facilities, consider the benefits for the dogs if not the people there. Off my soapbox now.
The puppies are doing very well learning their basics. We have also started them off ringing a bell to go outside for potty time. They have picked up the ringing the bell part, it may take a little more time before it becomes solidly linked to asking permission for a potty break in their minds. Can you imagine adopting a puppy that already knows how to ask to go outside to pee? That alone would be priceless for some people.
I'll try to remember to get more photos and videos as we go along.

FMI on those books and videos listed above:
Marker training DVD by Leerburg:
The TV shows I listed are on


JulieandCaleb said...

I think what you're doing is wonderful! Absolutely wonderful!

Jen said...

This is awesome!

Thanks for posting more info, I'm eager to learn from this and possibly work towards implementing it locally here. We have a great (crowded) shelter and a local prison who I believe could benefit from this program.

Those pups are ADORABLE, too!