Caring for a dog, as well as being cared for by a dog, can teach us a lot about patience and perspective taking. In particular, the empathy dimension in the Dognition Toolkit strives to show owners how their dogs read their emotions. This feedback can tell us a lot about how to communicate with our dogs. Through professional dog trainer Patricia Tirrell, we recently got a unique look into just how much the Toolkit could improve the relationship between dog and owner.
Patricia Tirrell has partnered with Forsyth County Correctional Center’s canine training program, A New Leash On Life, to bring the Dognition Toolkits to their facility. A New Leash On Life is a prison program where inmates have the opportunity to learn how to become dog trainers. Not only do the dogs who enter this program leave with amazing skills that make them more likely to be adopted, but the inmates training them learn compassion and have a fun way to support themselves.
We were pleased to find out that the Dognition Toolkits were a fantastic addition to Patricia’s training program with the inmates. Before the inmate-trainers started their Dognition experience, they told Patricia they knew all about their dogs and Dognition wouldn’t be able to tell them anything that they didn’t already know. It didn’t take long for the inmate-trainers to figure out that not only was the Dognition Assessment Toolkit fun; it also gave them new and interesting information about their dogs. Sometimes they were even surprised about the things they learned!
So far each inmate has been pleased with the program because they have been able to get a better/deeper understanding of the dog they are training. Some of the inmate-trainers admitted that they had believed that their dogs were not very intelligent before working through the Toolkit. They later found out that their dogs just happened to learn in different ways and needed different feedback from their trainer. One of the inmate-trainers also gave us some great feedback about their experience using the Toolkit to train their dog:
It was really wonderful to hear how the inmates gained so much from working with the dogs and used Dognition to even further the training process. Beyond just helping train the dogs, the inmates were able to create a strong bond with their dogs and to better understand their needs during a ten week period. These qualities are something Patricia and the other professional trainers work to see and luckily Dognition had the opportunity to be a part of it.