Free dog training from Pit Sisters

Pit Sisters offers free dog training. They hold mobile training sessions in Jacksonville, Florida, where people can work with dog trainers.
By Denise LeBeau

Padfoot the black pit bull terrier from Pit SistersPit Sisters began four years ago as an organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs in the animal shelter system of Jacksonville, Florida. When Jennifer Deane, founder and president, realized that the organization was getting bombarded with emails from families frustrated about simple training issues, she took it to heart.

“So we asked our local shelters and other local animal welfare groups how often they see training issues as the reasons for dogs being surrendered. We found they were having the same issues,” says Jennifer. Having identified training as an important staple to keep families together and reduce the number of dogs entering the shelter, Pit Sisters devised a program to address the need. A great partnership with Best Friends Animal Society helped get the new program off the ground.

Grant jump-starts mobile training for dogs

Pit Sisters is part of Best Friends’ No More Homeless Pets Network,  a group of rescue organizations and municipal shelters working across the country to end the killing of animals in our nation’s shelters. A Best Friends staff person assigned to the case helped facilitate a grant of $8,000 to get the Pit Sisters mobile training up and running.

Here’s how it works: Mobile training sessions are set up in multiple Jacksonville locations where people can just show up with their dogs and work with trainers using positive reinforcement. Each participant receives a training book that includes tips on resolving the most frequent dog behavior issues, such as barking, potty training, resource guarding, walking properly on leash and jumping.

“We have a great animal community here with lots of great programs, but we were missing a program offering free training,” says Jennifer. “Our main goal is to help homeless dogs. We do rescue dogs, but we wanted to be more proactive in helping dogs stay in their homes, which is exactly what the Pit Sisters mobile training does.”

Simple, sustainable solutions for dogs

Kaitlyn snuggling with Padfoot the pit bull terrierPadfoot, a beautiful ebony pit bull terrier, was rather shy and not very social around other dogs or people. He just didn’t trust anyone. His family heard about the program and made a beeline to one of the Pit Sisters mobile training sessions. The family had tried unsuccessfully to build his confidence on their own, but they didn’t have the tools or know-how. Pit Sisters mobile training personnel worked with him and his family, and gave them tips on how to help Padfoot become more comfortable with new people and new settings. “The biggest tip was not to push Padfoot, and to stop on a positive note so that both Padfoot and his family didn’t become frustrated,” says Jennifer.

Padfoot’s mom, Kaitlyn Hamby, is pleased with the results. “Pit Sisters mobile training was a godsend for my pup, Padfoot,” says Kaitlyn. “He desperately needed training, but as a full-time college student, I couldn't afford to pay a trainer.”

The grant will help more than 200 dogs like Padfoot get the training they need to become wonderful canine companions. “We would not have been able to launch the program without the funding we received, and we greatly appreciate Best Friends for their belief in this much-needed program,” says Jennifer.

Pit Sisters already has one very happy customer. “Using the training that Pit Sisters provided has brought Padfoot back to life,” says Kaitlyn. “He is happy as can be now and is ready to socialize with other dogs, thanks to Pit Sisters. The mobile training program is absolutely amazing.”

Get involved to help more pets

Keep the successes coming by giving to help the animals.

Learn more about the No More Homeless Pets Network.

Photos by Jennifer Deane