Chapel Hill students help train puppies to become assistance dogs

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Students at a Chapel Hill High School are working with paws4people to help socialize puppies that will be trained to become assistance dogs.

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Students at Phoenix Academy High School have been working with puppies as part of a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Paws4people works to enhance the lives of those living with serious illnesses or disabilities by utilizing highly trained assistance dogs. The organization specializes in training customized assistance dogs for children with disabilities as well as veterans and active-duty service members with chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and military sexual trauma.

Every Monday, students at Phoenix Academy assist in the puppy development process by exposing the puppies to different people and personalities along with different textures, sights, and sounds during their 10-12 week socialization stage.

When the puppies are about 16 weeks old, they move to the paws4prisons program, which is conducted at five prisons in West Virginia. While there, the puppies will undergo intensive training until they are about a year old.

The next phase of training takes place at the UNC-Wilmington paws4people Assistance Dog Training Program.

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