Paws With a Cause leads training for dogs at airport

The Wayland-based Paws With a Cause organization led the training exercise Tuesday for five puppies at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The five canines and their trainers walked through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, rode an elevated tram and boarded an airplane, all part of an effort to help the dogs get accustomed to one of the many settings they may experience later in life.

Paws With A Cause, a non-profit located at 4646 Division Ave. in Leighton Township, oversees custom training of puppies that become assistance dogs for people with disabilities. The group connects puppies with volunteers who raise and socialize the dogs for the first year of their lives.

Liz Hood, who coordinates the foster puppy program for Paws, explained, “Eventually, when they’re placed with our clients, they may well need to fly with them. So, if they have this exposure now while they’re young, then it means it’s not going to be a big deal for them when they’re with their clients when they’re older.”

The trainers also take the puppies to grocery stores, libraries, restaurants and doctor’s appointments, Hood said. But the airport provides a unique experience because of its distinct sights and sounds.

Four Labrador and golden retrievers and a papillon moved through the airport, shuffled down a jetway and got onto a plane, where they rested at the feet of their trainers, who were seated and provided the pups with treats to stay still.

“One of the main reasons for doing this type of training is so that our puppies become calm and confident in all types of different social situations,” Hood said.

Paws partnered with Delta Air Lines to provide a setting to help train puppies destined to become assistance dogs.

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