Paws for Progress

Paws for Progress CIC is a non-profitable organisation dedicated to enhancing the wellbeing of people and animals.

Initially a partnership between the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), the Dogs Trust and the University of Stirling, Paws for Progress started out as a project to gather evidence about the effectiveness of prison-based dog training programmes.

Since then, several educational and tailored animal assisted intervention techniques have been developed by Paws for Progress to help people build their confidence, engage with education, work on their employability and improve their wellbeing.

Today, Paws for Progress works with three key partners – the Scottish Prison Service; the University of Stirling; and Fife College.

Paws for Progress’ rescue dog training programme at HMP & YOI Polmont has been running successfully since 2011, and continues to expand to benefit the students and dogs participating. Young men are taught how to train and rehabilitate rescue dogs for re-homing, receiving comprehensive training from a Paws for Progress training instructor. The service is carefully designed so that it is both beneficial for the dogs who are involved by helping them to find new homes, while also helping inmates work on their employability, communication and confidence.

At HMP Castle Huntley, a collaborative project has been developed between Paws for Progress and the Dementia Dog Project where men in custody assist with the training of dementia assistance dogs that will go on to transform the lives of people with dementia in the community.

Students develop valuable transferable skills whilst increasing engagement in education and utilising volunteering and community placements. The project is a collaboration with Fife College, which means students can achieve contextualised SQA qualifications through working with the dogs.

Paws for Progress has also developed programmes for women in custody, which aim to to enhance mood of participants, enrich social skills and relations with staff and peers, develop an understanding of dogs and animal care, and help students engage in education.

Paws and Kids is a tailored programme of activities which uses dogs to help with the development of children who have experience a range of issues – from those who have been excluded from school to children with autism, ADHD, or those who are facing adverse childhood experiences.


For more information, see:

Paws for Progress
Psychology School of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling