The concept behind the prison-based dog training programs is fairly simple, give both prisoners and dogs a chance at rehabilitation. These unique programs offer prisoners a chance to do something good with their lives behind bars. The programs have strict guidelines and require the prisoners to meet certain criteria before they can become part of the program.
For the most part, the prisoners can not have any violent behavior in the past couple of years and be willing to put the dog before themselves. They basically have to be model prisoners. As the program grows, the prisons have seen a marked increase in good behavior as prisoners work to earn the opportunity to participate in the program. Prisons use the program as a reward for prisoners that work at behaving while they are in prison.
These programs have grown in popularity as the successes of each rehabilitation grows. Some programs use dogs that are rescued from animal control services or from rescues. These programs offer hope for both the dogs and the prisoners. The prisoners attend classes and training sessions to learn how to train their dog. The dog lives with the prisoner in a private cell at all times. The only time the dog is separated from the prisoner is when the prisoner is at meals or at work.
Some of the dogs have been abused and it takes time for the prisoner to build trust with the dog. Once the dog has learned to trust again, the prisoner starts to work on basic obedience training with it. Basic obedience training includes basic commands such as sit, stay, and heel. The prisoners also teach the dogs to socialize with other dogs and prisoners. The prisoner is responsible for grooming the dog and keeping an eye out for health problems.
Some dogs are trained as service dogs to help disabled people to have a fuller life. These dogs are taught to retrieve fallen objects, turn on light switches and let their owner know someone is at the door. Some dogs are trained for law enforcement and search and rescue. Some dogs however can’t concentrate on the training involved in these activities and these dogs become family pets.
These programs help in a two-fold way. With each dog that is rescued from the pound or shelter it is placed in a loving home. The prisoner learns a useful trade and an object lesson in rehabilitation. As the prisoner rehabilitates the dog, he or she is also rehabilitated. They learn to love again and to care about something. While the prisoner is sad when the dog is moved to it’s new home, there is a pride in having done something good.
This is a good type of program and it is too bad that it is not available in more prisons. It teaches responsibility in prisoners and gives them a reason to be good while serving their time. It is a literal lifesaver for the dogs that are rescued from the pounds and shelters. These programs give both the dog and the prisoner a new lease on life.