ABOUT THE PROJECT
In the UK, the majority of dogs who are surrendered are adolescents. This is because adolescence is when the lack of training, exercise, enrichment and consistency provided by their owner starts to emerge in the dog's behaviour. These dogs are usually easily frustrated and lack the basic life skills required to make family dogs. They have often missed out on vital development milestones, leading to their owners believing them to be diffiuclt dogs. Previously, these dogs may have been exposed to people who have tried to change their behaviour through confrontation and cohesion, which has led to a further escalation of their behaviour and eroded the dog's trust and bond with the owners.
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The project aims to teach the young people who currently reside at HMYOI Werrington the skills to rehabilitate the dogs who are at risk of being euthanised, or who are in very vulnerable positions due to a lack of basic training that is required, so that the dogs can function in a human world. The boys will be setting the dogs up for success by shaping their behaviour in a proactive and positive manner, training the dogs alternative behaviours and reinforcing the desired behaviours that the dogs perform. The dogs are on the programme for at least 12 weeks, or however long it takes for them to be ready to go on to reach their full potential. They will be guided by the young people for 6 hours of training and enrichment every day, going back to basics and learning things like frustration tolerance, impulse control, loose lead walking, settling on a bed, recall, manners around food and calm greetings.
When the dogs are ready for their new homes, the young people will help to write their homing criteria using all of the knowledge they have acquired about their partnered dogs. Through the bonds that they have developed, the dogs will now have the skills to become welcome members of a new family and the young people will be able to pass on the dog’s learnt behaviours, setting them up for success in their adoptive homes.
We also offer one dog place on the course to a private day training client, to help the young people gain experience in the business side to the profession.
As well as rehabilitating them for future success and happiness, we expect to see an increase in empathy levels and self esteem as the young people will see how their teaching via positive methods has lead to the dogs having a second chance at a happy future.