Year of the NEADS Dog Month 9 – The One Year Evaluation

October 10, 2018

Welcome to month 9 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 on our one year old puppies. At one year of age, each dog in training returns to NEADS for one to two weeks for an evaluation. During this time, a NEADS trainer spends time with the dog on campus and in different public settings. This allows the trainer to get a closer look at the dog’s obedience, task work, and personality outside of the prison facility.

During the evaluation, the trainer assesses how the dog responds to everything they are exposed to: men, women, kids, small animals, wheelchairs, surfaces, heights, traffic, and whatever else they run into while out and about. Seeing how the dog behaves in certain public settings like malls, restaurants, and public transportation helps give the trainer a full picture of the dog, which is valuable in deciding what type of career it would be best suited for.

After the evaluation period, the puppy returns to prison to continue its training. Once the evaluation is over the trainer can determine where the dog excels and where are the areas of improvement. Based on these strengths and weaknesses, the trainer shares training tips with the inmate handler and the Weekend Puppy Raiser that can be used to help the dog get ready for a client. If a specific career is selected for the dog at this time, the trainer gives instructions to the inmate handler on how to specialize the dog’s training for his or her future job.

See the whole Year of the NEADS Dog series here.