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To help break the tragic cradle to prison pipeline by harnessing the power of dogs to help at-risk youth develop the positive behaviors and skills they need to be productive, contributing members of the community
A Fair Shake for Youth uses dogs to help at-risk youth develop the positive skills and behaviors they need to become contributing members of the community. In weekly sessions, participants practice commands, teach tricks using positive reinforcement, learn about dog behavior, and feed them treats. Paticipants engage with speakers who demonstrate the skills of their working dog and talk about the bond that has developed between them. One week the youth might visit an agility center, havng fun running a dog through the course and appreciating the subtle communication required to be successful.
Through their work with the dogs, youth have the opportunity to experience unconditional love, to nurture and be nurtured, and to feel good about themselves. In the process, they develop empathy, trust, a sense of responsibility and self-esteem.
Prison dog programs have proven successful in helping inmates build ''prosocial'' skills critical for successful reentry into the community. Targeting dog programs to at-risk teens offers juvenile-justice involved youth the possibility of never going to prison, and ofers younger children the possibility of never getting in trouble.