Some will heel and some will heal in a Pups in Prison program that has begun in Tamworth.
The longtime dream of a local animal shelter founder, the project pairing inmates with dogs has started with littermates Digby and Annie at Tamworth Correctional Centre.
Four inmates will train the nine-month-old mastiff cross pups until they're ready to be adopted, and it's hoped the experience will give the offenders new direction.
"I had seen documentaries and had done research on it in prisons in America and how successful it was," Heaven Can Wait's Kate Davies said.
"The reoffending rate of inmates who took part in the program in America was a very, very low percentage.
"I thought, 'What a fabulous idea' - for both the inmates and the dogs."
Inmates have built kennels for the nine-month-old mastiff crosses, who will stay at the centre, and will be responsible for the feeding, grooming, cleaning and socialisation involved.
Yestraining For Dogs' Phill Evans will donate his time fortnightly to train the inmates to train the dogs, and family-owned Australian company SavourLife will provide the food.
Mrs Davies said she was "very impressed" with the inmates' handling of the pups so far.
"[The dogs'] safety is our main priority ... having spoken to the inmates and then seeing the reaction of all of them to the dogs, I had no concerns at all," she said.
"Just the genuine reaction to the dogs; they were genuinely happy and excited to see them, very gentle with them."
Tamworth Correctional Centre governor Bill Fittler said the program "provides the inmates the opportunity to develop animal handing abilities and pro-social skills".
"Nurturing animals has a very calming effect on humans and that will have a positive impact on the inmates and their behaviour.
"The program is of benefit to both the shelter and the inmates."