[nagdu] Prison-raised guide dogs, here's the scoop

Danielle Ledet singingmywayin at gmail.com
Sun Aug 23 21:59:18 UTC 2015

Awesome. I found the vid about Leader's program, but couldn't find the
link to post it here. I did not find the program I was looking for
with Pilot featured though, and I know it was shown.

On 8/23/15, Sheila Leigland via nagdu <nagdu at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> great post. I appreciate the information.
> On 8/23/2015 10:39 AM, Raven Tolliver via nagdu wrote:
>> Several listers have emailed me with questions on the prison puppies
>> program, but I didn't want to talk out of my a$$, so I've gathered
>> some more information. Given, I am most familiar with the prison pups
>> at LDB, not at any other program, so here's the scoop.
>> It has been proven that prison pups are 15% more likely to graduate
>> than in-home raised pups. Just under 50% of home-raised pups make it
>> as guides, and 60-65% of prison pups make it as guides. Here are the
>> speculations on why this is so.
>> 1. Prison pups have more consistency and strict handling than
>> home-raised guide dogs. Prisoners spend 24-7 with their pups, and like
>> folks in the military, these prison raisers are trained to expect
>> precision, correct position, and consistent and appropriate behavior
>> at all times.
>> 2. Prison raisers never raise puppies solo. All prison puppies have
>> raiser groups, consisting of 4 prisoners who are responsible for the
>> care and training of that dog. They remain in these groups every day,
>> not just several times a month or week like other puppy-raisers. This
>> requires teamwork, but it also means that off the bat, the pup readily
>> obeys more than one person, and that the raisers are all equally
>> educated on handling and care techniques.
>> 3. The prison environment is more consistent than the home
>> environment. Prisoners lack the daily distractions and stresses of a
>> home environment, and thus do not have periods where their pup's
>> training may fall to the wayside or be thrown on the back burner. The
>> puppy is all they have to focus on, and so that pup has more training
>> sessions than home-raised dogs.
>> What trainers have found with prison-raised vs. home-raised dogs is
>> this: prison-raised dogs need more socialization, while home-raised
>> pups need more obedience work. What does that mean?
>> Prison-raised pups are obviously limited in their socialization
>> opportunities since they can only be exposed to so many environments
>> and situations in the prisons. Yes, some prisons have villages set up
>> where their are shopping mall-like set ups, vehicles on the premises,
>> etc., but there is no way to completely recreate what a dog can be
>> exposed to on the outside world, so this is the trainers' job.
>> LDB tried having temporary puppy-raisers take the dogs for just the
>> weekends, but this resulted in the pups having behavior issues. Yes,
>> just staying with raisers in a home environment for 2 or 3 days
>> created behavioral issues. So that aspect of the program was scrapped.
>> At some prisons, the guards partake in the dogs' socialization to the
>> outside world and take them to local puppy outings.
>> Also, prison-raised dogs go through periodic behavioral evaluations.
>> Each dog is assessed on their strengths and weaknesses, and
>> adjustments are made to their training program according to the
>> results of their assessment.
>> When the guide dog trainers get the dogs, they expose them to many
>> different sounds, textures, and environments. The trainers find that
>> the pups are very confident in people and what they expect from them,
>> and so they adapt to new environments and experiences very well.
>> Home-raised dogs need more work with obedience. Even though these
>> puppies receive special training to enter the guide dog program, most
>> of them live more like pets in their raisers' homes. Many raisers
>> don't practice obedience on a daily basis. Furthermore, the pups are
>> used to primarily listening to one person, and spending most if not
>> all of their time with that person in every situation. It seems that
>> they are not as strict with their puppies as the prison raisers are.
>> I have personal experience with the prison-raised pups. When they come
>> in for medical procedures or medical evaluations, they stay in the
>> kennels in puppyland. In my experience, these pups are easier to
>> handle, are more obedient, and are not as stressed by the kennel
>> environment. They are very quiet, do not experience separation
>> anxiety, and are excellent at loose-leash walking.
>> On the other hand, many of the home-raised dogs experience separation
>> anxiety, will drag you on leash if you let them, lunge after objects
>> or people on-leash, and bark persistently, some to the point of losing
>> their voices. Many of them jump up on the kennel doors and bark to get
>> attention from people, and do not listen very well. This isn't the
>> case for all of them, but many of them. I've had some very
>> well-composed home-raised dogs, but you definitely know the difference
>> when you have a prison-raised dog.
>> The prison dogs seem to know what is expected of them at all times, no
>> matter the environment or handler, whereas many of the home-raised
>> dogs are very testy and stressed when in new environments or when they
>> are handled by unfamiliar people.
>> Just my 2 cents. I know this brought up great controversy when
>> discussed before so if the moderators shut the topic down, I
>> understand. I just wanted to answer some people's questions.
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