Paws 4 Change

Teaming teenagers with a rescue dog in a project which changes human and canine lives

Teenage girl walking with staffy taking part in RSPCA Paws 4 Change programme ©RSPCA

Paws 4 Change is an innovative course which gives young people, who are experiencing challenges, the
opportunity to bond with and train a rescue dog which has had a difficult start in life. 

Our teams work closely with local youth centres, social services and council youth teams to offer week-long training sessions for young people, teaching skills like confidence, decision making and communication while fostering empathy and compassion for animals. At the same time it gives neglected and abused dogs, rescued by the RSPCA, one-to-one care and training which helps them to find new homes.


"It's a win-win situation - the dogs get out of kennels, the young people are here gaining confidence as they're working with these dogs." Dr Junes Williams, Paws 4 Change, RSPCA Milbrook Animal Centre

If you know a young person that could benefit from taking part in Paws 4 Change please contact us for more information on referrals. 


Responsibility for training and caring for a dog

Staff select dogs who need time outside of their kennel, have no basic training or are anxious or shutdown and need more one-on-one time to ensure they're ready for rehoming. They'll then be matched with a young person on the scheme who shares similar difficulties or qualities with the dog.

Under the guidance of a behaviour and welfare specialist, they'll be tasked with training and caring for their new canine companion. The healing result, as they bond with their rescue dog, is outstanding and heartwarming to see.

As well as the dogs benefiting from training, learning basic commands and remembering how to trust people, the youngsters who participate also benefit from learning life skills, practical animal-handling skills as well as people and communication skills and gaining confidence through the dogs.

"It's about wanting to help the young people that we work with and try to engage them in something really positive that we can see will make a difference in their lives and try to get them involved in something." Hannah Young, senior youth worker, Kent County Council