A Day in the Life of a NEADS Inmate Handler and his Dog

Note: The inmate handler mentions some training terms that are used specifically by handlers. Puppy Raisers should only use the commands listed on the weekend sheet.

The day starts at 7:35am. The count is clear and inmates are allowed to take the dogs outside to eliminate. After the dogs eliminate, I bring him back in to do a little training.

Because the dog is hungry and full of energy, I take this time to go through some of the shaped behaviors such as fetch, nudge, get it, and shake, just to name a few.

About 8:00am I lock Henry in his kennel while I go to breakfast. Around 8:20 when I return, I get Henry dressed and take him for a short walk. Around 8:30/8:35, I come back to the unit, let the program liaison say hello to the pup, and get whatever I need out of her office, such as medication, poop bags, peanut butter, cheese, etc.

Henry has acne so today I’m in the office to apply some medication to his chin. Normally the training room is open at 9am. However, today it’s being occupied by another program, so I train Henry in the hallway for about 45 minutes, going over obedience commands such as sit, down, turn, through, and stand.

Around 9:30/9:45 I give Henry free time outside. We play retrieve with a tennis ball.

Around 10:20 we head inside. Once we’re in the cell, I give Henry the “okay” command, which lets him know he can kind of do what he wants for a while.

1pm, after count and lunch, I take Henry for another short walk. This is a great time to walk the dogs because there is a lot of traffic, inmates are going to programs, gym, and yard at this time. It’s important for the dog to ignore large crowds and pay attention to the client. Around 1:30 I do more training with Henry (theoretically, you are always training the dog).

When you drop something, instead of picking it up yourself, you would tell the dog to fetch, hold, and give. This way, it’s not staged, and you’re using the command as would the client.

At about 2:15, I bring Henry back to my cell and let him play with his bones and toys. 3:15, I let a back up trainer take Henry to go over some commands for about 20 minutes. Between 4pm and 6:30pm, Ilet Henry rest – he can lie on the floor in his kennel or play with his toys.

At 6:30, the training room is open, so I bring Henry to do his last round of training for the night. This time, we’re doing shaped behaviors, such as fridge, nudge, paws, and door. We train for close to an hour and our day is done.

I take Henry for another walk. It’s good to walk the dog in the dark because you don’t want the dog to be afraid of shadows or people at night. So we walk the dogs at night to build confidence and to make sure they don’t have any fears.

10:30pm is the last time I bring Henry outside to eliminate. Around 10:35pm, I lock Henry in his kennel for the night. Aside from me leaving the unit (breakfast, lunch, dinner), this is the only time Henry is locked in his kennel.