P.R.E.P. stands for Patience, Responsibility, Empathy and Partnership; the behaviors and skills developed through participation in this program. Each team of two students is assigned to a dog in need of basic obedience training. During the month of training, they are taught how to shape the dog's behavior by means of a non-violent, positive reinforcement approach to training.
This program was re-started in August 2009. It was thoughtfully redeveloped over an 18 months period. We have received grants from the Rees Jones Foundation, the Stemmons Foundation and the Moody Foundation, as well as many individual donations.
The primary goal of this program is to provide the selected young men the opportunity to experience the responsibility of teaching and leadership. The key to meeting this objective is to draw a clear parallel between the skills they are learning in training the dogs to issues in their own lives. The idea of responsibility, of leadership without prejudice for what you may have done before is critical in the success of the program. The young men will sign a document that will be a part of their file. They execute a "contract" between themselves and the dog with them, committing to the dog to provide leadership and education without anger and frustration, to be patient and understanding, to be strong in providing guidance and to understand the responsibility they are undertaking. The dog "signs" the contract by being there ready to work. Through the success in training the dogs and the progress they observe every day, these young men will come to clearly realize that if they commit to something and stick to it, they can and do make a big difference, not only in the lives of the dogs, but in the lives of the dogs' adoptive families.
An additional benefit of this program is that it can help point and prepare the young men who are interested in a career with animals by giving them marketable skills that can give them a competitive advantage when they get to the job market.
We are using the services of Canine Dimensions to run our P.R.E.P. program. They not only possess the expertise to administer the program from a protocol based dog training approach, but they also bring some unique skill sets. Canine Dimensions Director of Training Juan Faura has been training dogs for more than 15 years, at first as a special interest working with family and friends' dogs and ultimately grew this into a primary business and career. We use Oak Hill Animal Rescue as a source of dogs to for the young men to work with.
There are 10 sets of 4-week training classes a year. Each training unit will consist of one and a half hour session a day (Monday through Friday) for 3 weeks. There are 4 dogs, with two young men per dog. The fourth week will be used for results monitoring, preparation and selection for the next unit. The following is the curriculum by week:
Food guarding test, one of the temperament testing techniques learned by the young men.
All participants will receive a certificate from Canine Dimensions listing what they have learned in dog training and all participating dogs will receive a K-9 Diploma which will be placed on their kennel and become a part of their record for adoption.
Example of adoption follow-up letters and photos
Adoption at graduation. Well trained. Oak Hill's Service dog Chili.