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Canine Prison Training Works!
Who's In Control?
Problem Behavior is Never Cute
Bonding with my four beautiful, loving canines was a wonderful and interesting adventure for the first 3 years. Although some of their "childhood" antics were endearing, I soon realized that other rather annoying habits became impossible to break. They had expectations, and when I didn't meet them, they nudged my hands and legs at times incessantly, often when I was trying to relax. Furthermore, after a visit to my home by some dear friends, it became obvious that these behaviors were not necessarily endearing to others, no matter how much I loved my dogs.
Having them inside during mealtime (not my preference) revealed that they had also become quite prolific beggars. Secretly sharing toast and other scraps from the table with them when I was not in the room, serves to make matters worse. Any effort to change this behavior on my side was futile. It was more obvious that they in fact had trained us quite well to jump to acommodate them.
When I was busy gardening or doing other chores, they surrounded and interrupted my activities considerably. As you can see from the pictures, it made time outdoors not so enjoyable, even though we had adapted to it. To me it felt more like a roundup, as they continuously circled around us vying for attention, and trying to make us part of their "pack".
I couldn't do this alone. I knew that I would most be the most likely candidate for reinforcement as the consistent disciplinarian, A solution was formulating in my mind as I came to the conclusion that the best option might be take them to work with me to a recently developed canine training program. I looked forward eagerly to successful results similar to those I observed daily.
The correctional system in which I served as chaplain began a canine training program that allowed inmates to work and be trained for future employment upon release. As I spent time in this unit, I was quickly impressed not only by the ability of dog behavior to be changed, but by the quality of care exhibited by the offenders towards the animals which were sometimes rescued from shelters, and "rehabilitated" to be more adoptable.
As the animals responded to the tender, nurturing care of the women, I realized that this was a positive program for offenders. As their need to care for others was being rekindled in them by care of the animals, they seemed less lonely, troubled and isolated. The dogs, in response to the care, wanted to please their trainers and began conforming progressively in their behavior.
After being invited to a "go home" class where the first pets were selected for adoption and their training demonstrated by the handlers, I was quite impressed to see great results even after 30 days. I recognized the opportunity to make some changes at home, and requested to enroll the two most problematic of my pets.
My dogs, because of my employment, had to be taken to other facilities so the inmates didn't know that they belonged to me and so that I didn't interfere with their training or correction. Now that is wisdom on someone's part, not because of any negative reason other than their love for me would have been obvious if I walked through the prison yard at the same time they were training.
At the end of the training, I attended a demonstration class where I was shown what my dog learned. I was able to practice the commands so I was comfortable in reinforcing their behavior. Dogs are so smart, they try to convince you when you get them home that they learned nothing new, just so they can train you! The inmates who trained them kept a journal, which served as a guideline to what the dog had learned to do, for reinforcement in the future.
When I read the journal at home, I was touched by the genuine comments and the love that the offender expressed for my dear pets. This served as a demonstration of how this program worked to make the offenders aware of how they affected others.Remarkably, when two of them returned, the others adapted to their good behavior and the commands. No further problems ensued from the animals, although my husband had great resistance to the follow-thru. Some things never change.
For these reasons, I highly recommend considering one of the most under-publicized valuable programs, Correctional K9 Training. Two of my animals were initially trained for 6 weeks (rather than the usual 4 for training) in the Colorado Correction Industries dog training program. They also have boarding-in programs as a follow-up to initial training, and because of effectiveness, have a 3 month waiting list. My female shepherd came back as a confident, obedient blessing in contrast to the cowering non-alpha female in our 4 dog pack. My Hank, a lab mix, came back with an assortment of delightful tricks, which endear him to everyone he meets.
Giving both dogs this opportunity also provided a possibly bored inmate an opportunity to care for something beyond themselves, which, as I mentioned becomes a transformational process for many. Upon my animals' return both in training and boarding, I received a daily journal from the inmate which not only noted insights on the temperament and progress of each dog, but conveyed gratitude for providing an otherwise unavailable opportunity for their personal growth.
DVD's of your dog's training are also available, and give your family an opportunity to see the OTHER side of prison life, rather than reality tv. What a concept! I cried when I watched how the dogs bonded with their handlers and vice versa. I know from first hand experience that the inmates sometimes cry when the dogs go home. Now that is a simple gift of love.
During the boarding stay which occurred about a month ago, my dogs were walked at least a mile twice a day, trained by a personal attendant, fed whatever you prefer if they are boarded in, washed, brushed and paws clipped. If you decide not to use their food (which is included in the fee). The cost was one-third less two weeks boarding at a kennel, which generally provide no exercise and exposure (contamination) of your dog with dogs of unknown origin or veterinary care.
The Dog Training Program offers a refresher course and help when you need it....For Free! I'll bet you won't get that guarantee from a kennel or training program without paying for it!
Colorado Correctional Industries Dog Training Program
- CCi Web Site
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