Puppies for Parole


By: Guest Author, Sandra Redford, AKC Approved CGC Evaluator and Unity Hospice Pet Therapy Volunteer

In the Puppies for Parole program, we will be sending seven dogs from the shelter into prison for a 13-week course designed to help the dogs pass the AKC’s CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test.

Puppies for Parole is a unique program made possible through the Department of Corrections’ partnerships with animal shelters and animal advocate groups. Selected offenders have the opportunity to become trainers to rescue dogs in the program. Offenders work with the dogs, teaching them basic obedience skills and properly socializing the animals. Once the dogs have successfully completed the program, their original shelter will help find them homes.

pups parolejDuring our first visit to the prison, we started by outlining our curriculum. We have 13 weeks to take these shelter dogs from untrained to trained and refined…and ultimately ready to pass the CGC test. Some of the dogs will go on to participate in performance events and therapy dog work.

Unity Hospice (serving St. Louis, MO, Southern Illinois, Chicago and Northwest Indiana) provides a pet therapy program for their hospice and palliative care patients.  Dogs such as those enrolled in Puppies for Parole, are trained to provide this unique alternative therapy. To learn more about Unity Hospice and the Pet Therapy Program that they offer, please visit their website at: www.unityhospice.com

I can’t wait to see the transformation. Here will be dogs and people written off by society, given a second chance.” – Prison Warden

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Housetraining a Rescue Dog

For dog owners who ask about housetraining a new puppy, crate training is frequently suggested as an important part of housetraining. The idea is that dogs won’t want to soil the crate that they view as a den; they’ll want to keep their sleeping area clean.

dog peesBut what do you do when you get a puppy who soils her crate? Or you rescue an adult dog who has frequent accidents in the house?

In these cases, you should go back to the beginning and start over with housetraining and crate training.  Follow these steps:

1. Assess your dog’s ability to “hold it.”

As a first step, do an assessment of how well your dog can control his bladder and bowels when he’s not in the crate.  If you are at home on the weekend, how long does the dog go between trips outside?  How about at night? Does the dog sleep in the crate or in your room? Is the dog in the crate all day when you are at work? Is the soiling occurring during the night or when you are at work during the day?

2. Control your dog’s diet.

Keeping your dog’s meal times consistent (as well as the type and amount of food) will help regulate the dog’s need for trips outside. Feed your dog at the same each day and refrain from a lot of extra treats and people food in between meals.

3. Scheduling, scheduling, scheduling

Several hours in a crate can exceed a puppy’s limit when it comes to bladder and bowel control. Beginning with taking your dog outside the first thing in the morning, schedule trips outside about every two hours including after every meal. Then, make a final trip outside at night before you go to bed. If you have a long workday, consider having someone come and take the dog outside for a mid-day break.

4. Exercise

Exercise helps with housetraining. A short walk after meals or more active exercise in the morning can increase the likelihood that your dog will take care of his business outside.

5. When accidents happen

Clean the crate and any bedding so it is free of any scent from urine or feces. If you think your dog is stressed out when you are gone, consider leaving him with a safe, interactive toy.

Depending on the size and age of your dog and the length of time you will be gone, you could consider taking a break from the crate and use an exercise pen or a room secured by baby gates while you are gone.

Whatever you do, don’t punish your dog for accidents. Continue to give lots of praise and treats for a “job well done” outside.

Do you have any other tips for housetraining a rescue dog?

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When Should You Start Training Your Puppy?

It used to be that trainers and veterinarians recommended that puppies begin training classes as soon as they were old enough to have all of their vaccines and boosters. What this meant was that some puppies didn’t get to class until they already had behavioral issues and were headed down the path to a problem that started in the Critical Period of Socialization or Fear period.

click in crateAs a result, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, animal behaviorists and many trainers now recommend that puppies (who do not have health problems) begin classes as early as 7-8 weeks.

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) states: “In general, puppies can start socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first deworming. They should be kept up to date on all vaccines throughout the class.”

The idea here is that inadequate socialization during the first two to three months of the puppy’s life can result in behavioral issues (including fears, phobias, avoidance, and aggression) that extend well into the dog’s life.  For the complete statement, see: http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonline/images/stories/Position_Statements/puppy%20socialization.pdf

While there may be some breeders and trainers who disagree, the current thinking in the medical and behavioral world is that the benefits of attending classes early outweigh any possible health risks.

In AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy classes for young puppies, instructors will tailor the instruction for the age of the puppy. Most of the class in the beginning will be geared at play and socialization. By the time the puppies graduate 6 weeks later, they are developmentally ready to begin learning additional new skills.

Adapted from:  AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy: A Positive Behavioral Approach to Training Your Puppy (Dogwise Publishers, 2013).

For more information, see http://www.akc.org/starpuppy

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Empty Nesters: Adding a Dog to Your Life

A very attractive 50-something year old woman took her seat beside me on the plane. Within a few minutes, she looked at the carry-on bag under my seat and said, “What’s in the bag?”  I thought it was an odd question, but I replied. “A sandwich and some books.” She began to laugh. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I thought you had a little dog in the bag. I love dogs.”

empty nest1This began an interesting conversation.  I learned that Susan was a physically active person. She took yoga, worked out at the gym, and worked in her yard. From what I could gather, she was financially comfortable. Susan’s adult children had moved out, gone to college and accepted jobs in another state.  “During the day, I stay busy,” she said, “but at night I really miss having the kids around. I feel lonely; it’s depressing.”

Susan is an empty nester. She stays in contact with her children, but she was having a hard time adjusting to being home alone.

“I’d love to have a big old shaggy dog to keep me company,” Susan told me, “but if I wanted to travel to visit the kids, I don’t know what I’d do with the dog. And, I’m no spring chicken. I wonder what would happen to a dog if something happened to me.”

Susan brought up some very valid concerns. Here are some tips for Empty Nesters who are considering getting a dog:

1. Consider an adult dog                                                                                                              Depending on your age, you may not want a puppy. There are many wonderful adult and older dogs who need homes. If you’ve always wanted a purebred dog, a responsible breeder can help you, or you can go to http://www.akc.org find a purebred dog in the AKC Rescue Network. You can also find a dog at your local shelter.

2. Pet Friendly Housing                                                                                                                        If you live in an apartment or condo, check before you get a dog to make sure that dogs are allowed. If you’re considering moving to a senior community in the near future, check in advance as to whether or not they allow pets. If you have your own home, when choosing a dog, think about fencing and the exercise needs of the dog you choose.

3. Boarding or Pet Sitters                                                                                                                  One of Susan’s main concerns was that a dog would tie her down if she wanted to travel to visit her children.  Depending on your travel plans, if you chose a smaller dog, would it be easier to take along with you? If taking the dog is not possible, go and visit boarding kennels near you (before getting a dog) to put your mind at ease. Friends who have dogs can give you advice. Or, you can interview local pet sitters before adding a dog to your home.

4. Lifetime Care Plan for Your Dog                                                                                                It’s hard to think about death, but every dog owner should have a plan for what should happen with the dog if he or she dies before the dog. Would your adult children take your dog? How about a friend or neighbor? If the dog came from a responsible breeder, breeders will and often prefer that the dog returns to them in the event that something happens to you. Finally, your dog can be considered in your Estate Planning (e.g., specify who will get the dog and if that person will receive funds for veterinary care, etc.).  Having an advance plan in place will give you peace of mind knowing that the dog you love will be cared for.

Taking the time to do research before you add a dog to your life will help alleviate many of your concerns.

Citizen Canine readers, do you have any tips for empty nesters who are considering getting a dog?

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Supervising Puppy Play Sessions

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy is the American Kennel Club’s popular puppy training program. STAR is an acronym that stands for Socialization, Training, Activity and a Responsible owner, all the things every puppy needs to get started on the right paw in life.

bulldogs playSocialization means letting your puppy interact with other people and dogs. While there are many benefits from letting young puppies play together, it is important to supervise and manage the activities to keep all puppies safe.

10 Tips for Supervising Group Playtime for Puppies

  • Carefully watch your puppy and other dogs; this isn’t a time for you to zone out and read a book.
  • Keep an eye on your puppy’s canine body language. Fear in your pup’s eyes, trembling, and attempting to hide are signs that this is not the ideal activity for your dog.
  • Keep the sessions short.
  • Watch for and ask that canine bullies be removed from the play session.
  • Remove your puppy immediately if you see any dog with aggressive tendencies.
  • Find a group for smaller dogs if you have a small dog.
  • Don’t push your puppy if she is shy or doesn’t want to play.
  • Plan a calm down activity such as taking a short walk.
  • Practice calling your puppy out of the group and reward him for coming.
  • Any time you don’t feel comfortable with the way dogs are playing together, remove your puppy from the group.

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy classes provide a great setting for you to train and socialize your puppy. For more info, see: http://www.akc.org/starpuppy

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U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Detector Dogs Adopt CGC

By Carol Franklin, USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center

In early 2013, the U.S Department of Agriculture started training three dogs at the USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan, Georgia.

detector1For 10 weeks, the dogs trained with their human partners to learn to detect illegal agricultural products in airports, seaports and mail facilities. Since these dogs will work around the public, USDA has incorporated the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program into the curriculum to help ensure that all detector dogs have good manners.

After the dogs pass their detection training class, I evaluate them for the CGC award. I was so proud of our dogs that I had tears in my eyes at their graduation.

 Left to right: Yen Crawley (Training Specialist), Kathy Warfield (Training Technician), Carol Franklin (CGC Evaluator)


Left to right: Yen Crawley (Training Specialist), Kathy Warfield (Training Technician), Carol Franklin (CGC Evaluator)

These new Canine Good Citizens have important jobs and through training, they have formed strong bonds with their new lifetime partners. When they retire, they will live with their handlers and their families in a home where they are well-loved and happy.

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Valparaiso Kennel Club Supports United States War Dogs Association

By Julie Nover-Horn (Valparaiso Kennel Club Secretary and Show Chair)

As this year comes to a close, I wanted to tell everyone about a wonderful organization. Valparaiso Kennel Club, Inc. is a proud supporter of the United States War Dogs Association, Chapter 3, located in Kokomo, Indiana.

The United States War Dog Association honors our country’s way dogs past, present and future. John A. Meeks, the organization’s Executive Director, was on hand at the Valparaiso Kennel Club’s October dog shows. Our club provided free booth space at our shows and John was able to collect private and corporate donations, as well as generous acknowledgements from the Best and Reserve Best in Show winners!

VKC-John Meeks

VKC co-chair of Public Relations and Advertising, Paula J. Schmidt, presenting John Meeks with a donation from Valparaiso Kennel Club

war dogs

US War Dogs Association booth at the VKC shows

John Meeks provides necessary and urgently needed supplies and equipment to handlers and canine officers currently serving the United States in the Middle East.  To learn more about the War Dogs Association, and get involved with a great organization as this new year begins, please visit www.facebook.com/uswardogs3

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