Diamonds in the Ruff is a proud partner of the Airway Heights Corrections Center prison dog training program
Offender handlers help shelter dogs become more adoptable under the guidance of Diamonds in the Ruff trainers Kim Imel, LVT, CPDT-KA and Carol Byrnes, CPDT-KA, using force-free positive methods.
TV/News coverage about the program:
OUR HOPE IS THAT EVERY GRADUATE WILL HAVE A HOME WAITING
AND THAT NO DOG WILL EVER SEE THE INSIDE OF A SHELTER AGAIN.
About the program:
The dogs live in the cells with their carefully screened handlers who work and play with them throughout the day, every day. The dogs are under the direct care of their handlers 24/7. Trainers Carol and Kim meet with the offenders and dogs weekly to review the work they have been doing and work on the next week's assignments. At the end of their training, the dogs will graduate and being adopted by waiting families.
As much as the dogs grow and improve, the staff, trainers and handlers report the positive changes they see in all of the offenders as a direct result of having the dogs in the prison.
Why positive training methods? Why a book called "Don't Shoot the Dog?" as required reading?
In the words of one of our offender trainers after reading "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor and experiencing the power and change in perspective: "If my parents had read this book, taught me this way, I probably wouldn't be in prison today."
Force and intimidation has no place in dog training. And it sure has no place in a prison program. The shift in thinking from "Catch 'em in the act" to "Catch 'em doing something good" has a ripple effect inside prison walls. We hope those who experience the power of positive training will take this new way of seeing the world with them when they re-join society someday. DSTD should be required reading for everyone. Others commented that after so much taking from people which led them to prison, this was an opportunity to give back.
"When this dog leaves. a little piece of me will go with him."
Training the Human End of the Leash
Another book that is part of our regular curriculum is called "The Human Half of Dog Training" by Rise Van Fleet. Every handler completes a chapter-by-chapter study course on this book. Why? Because learning to work together individually and as a team is essential for the program and when they leave the prison and start new lives outside the prison.
" ...success in working with dogs ultimately depends on the cooperation, understanding, and follow-through of the people who bring their dogs for help. Failure to work with people often leads to failure with the dogs. In The Human Half of Dog Training, author Risë VanFleet draws upon her years of experience working with people as a child and family psychologist to teach dog trainers how to take a collaborative approach with clients to insure the best possible outcomes for their dogs.
The book covers specific skills needed to work effectively with humans. Included are ample examples of the skills in action in dog training and consulting situations. This practical book offers many tools that have been shown to create collaborative client relationships that yield positive results.
Chapters: 1. The Human Client; 2. Some Thoughts on Human Resistance; 3. A Look at Cognitive Distortions; 4. Initial Engagement and Relationship Building; 5. Understanding Clients: Empathic Listening; 6. Client Follow-Through; 7. Adapting Training Skills You Already Have to Human Clients; 8. Skills for Working with Children; 9. Handling Common Problems with Human Clients; 10. Final Thoughts