|Can she change how you behave?
Dogs that can retrieve cash fromATMsand empty washing machines helpdisabled peoplelead more independent lives, but can they also help changedisruptiveteenagers' behaviour?
A unique TV experiment, "Dog House", follows fiveunrulyyoungsters as they're taught to becomedog trainers. The idea is simple. Kids really like dogs. But can the skills involved in training them - patience,consistency, rewarding good behaviour – give these teenagers thedisciplinethey need in their own lives?
The teens involved wereput forward bylocal schools in West Sussex, who had run out of ideas of howto deal withthem.
Liam was typical - 14 years old, sullen, aggressive,foul mouthedand about to bepermanently excludedfrom school. Allie, Rob and Ellie, had similar problems – they couldn't concentrate, they didn't likebeing told what to doand they had serious anger problems. Katrina was different. She was so shy that she had developedagoraphobia, she suffered from depression and hadtaken herself out ofmainstream education.
Gradually, working with the dogs began to have an impact on the kids. But, in orderto fully appreciatethe significance of what they were doing, they needed to meet the disabled people who benefited from having these dogs. The meetings had a profound impact on the teenagers. After meeting Eileen Hobson and her dog Sailor, Liam changed his ways and his unlikely friendship with severely disabled wheelchair user Eileenblossomed.
Two months into the course Liam beganto connect withthe dogs too - particularly a young yellow Labrador called Aero. The relationshipflourishedso much that the dog oftenknew instinctivelywhat the teenager wanted him to do before he'd even asked. "He just knows," says Liam.
Liam's school noticed a huge change in his whole outlook. His teacher Nick Brown said "More than anything I see a confident and happy young man. It's been superb."