Each course cycle runs for ten weeks, with up to 10 young men taking part in 7 training sessions each week, 3 of which the rescue dogs currently attend. As well as working with the dogs, the participants learn team working and social skills, and gain educational qualifications. The participants in the course are usually made up of 6 new students and 4 graduates who assist as peer mentors or volunteer assistants.
Dogs are brought into HM YOI Polmont from local dog rescue charities three times a week for two-three hour training sessions with Paws for Progress participants. Each student is paired with a dog, and their work is focused towards helping the dog be rehomed. Our students design training plans using reward based methods to achieve their training goals.
There is a great deal of affection between dogs and handlers on the courses. The young men who are taking part are very committed to helping the dogs. The dogs in turn show enthusiasm for attending the training sessions and after a morning of undivided attention and training with their handlers they return to the boarding kennels more relaxed and content.
Students work towards the APDT Good Companion Awards, and the successful rehoming of a dog is an achievement for the handler. The students work very hard under the guidance of our staff to ensure the dogs’ continuously progress. The dogs’ improved behaviour and sociability also increases their appeal to adopters, and the extra promotion the students’ work provides can help these great dogs find the loving homes they so deserve.
In addition to practical dog training sessions we also facilitate visits from professionals involved in animal care and training, and theory based educational sessions.
On completing the course, students can return as helpers to support new students. On their return to the community they have the opportunity to stay in touch with our team and engage in volunteering and work experience placements.