Year of the NEADS Dog Month 7 – Advances in Training in Prison

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Welcome to month 7 of our Year of the NEADS Dog series, in which we highlight the transition our Service Dogs in Training make during their first year with us. This month, we check in to see how our puppy is progressing in prison.

As our puppy has grown physically, so has he also developed cognitively.  His attention span has lengthened and his awareness of the world has become clearer.  At this stage, our puppy is beginning to learn the basics of service dog task training.

The inmate handler will introduce the dumbbell, a plastic training tool that is easy for the dog to pick up and hold onto.  The puppy will learn to hold the dumbbell in his mouth, move around without dropping it, and deliver it to a person’s hand.  We have also introduced the puppy to the idea of pushing target areas with his nose and paws.  These behaviors will gradually be shaped into more accurate targeting commands where the puppy can be sent from a distance to turn on a light switch or push an automatic door button.

Obedience commands are being proofed in new areas around new distractions, getting the puppy ready to work in multiple different environments.  The puppy is expected to give the handler eye contact around other dogs, small animals and new people.  Sometimes it can be challenging, but consistent positive training helps our puppy to understand what is expected of him.