Certified service dog coach Angela Gardner, CTC, CSAT, SA Pro, offers service dog training and pet dog training for puppies and dogs, as well as helping owners address separation anxiety and other behavior problems. Angela offers both virtual training services and in-person training in Sausalito, California, and surrounding areas.
What made you decide you wanted to train service dogs?
When I realized how much a service dog could impact the quality of life for someone beyond the amazing ways pet dogs already do, I wanted to help train dogs to provide this level of help for their owners.
Tell us about your work training service dogs.
I have been working with owner-trained teams as part of my training business since graduating as an SDC. I’ve had several clients whose dogs I’ve been able to train to do tasks such as deep pressure therapy and alerts. I’ve also done public access training with all of them.
Tell us about your dog training business.
In addition to offering service dog training, I do socialization and early manners training with puppies, work with dogs with separation anxiety, and offer behavior modification for leash reactivity and fearful behavior. I use positive reinforcement-based training.
How has offering service dog training affected your business?
Offering service dog training has made me busier! I really enjoy it. It has also connected me more fully to my local community. I have great support from the community working with teams in public! I have store owners that welcome me and teams into their stores to work on public access training. I’ve had clients tell me that when they are out training with dogs, employees of businesses tell them how well behaved their dogs are. People seem very open to having service dogs in training in the community.
What motivated you to enroll in the SDC course?
I did some research on how to get certified to be able to train service dogs and it was the best option for a trainer who works for themselves and wants to work with owner-trainer teams. I had already completed the Cooperative Paws course on PTSD Service Dog Tasks and purchased Veronica’s book, Service Dog Coaching: A Guide for Pet Dog Trainers. The Service Dog Coach program seemed like the best option. The flexible online format was a perfect fit for my needs.
I also wanted to work with positive reinforcement training only. Veronica’s education and knowledge of the material was exceptional. The way that the material was organized and the specific projects we were assigned offered experience beyond just studying online. I especially enjoyed projects that got us out in the community.
What did you like the most about the SDC course?
My favorite part of the SDC course was also the hardest part: teaching my dog how to do a service dog retrieve! Going through that process and being successful helped validate that I can do service dog coaching.
Was there anything that surprised you about service dog work?
I was surprised and gratified to realize that my standards for puppy training and socialization were similar to the criteria to prepare service dogs in training. Much of the training I was already doing had similarities to the public access training we do for service dogs. I was even teaching targeting to puppies early on and that is a foundation skill for many service dog tasks.
What advice would you give to trainers thinking about getting involved in service dog training?
Go for it! It’s very rewarding! It’s a great process to watch unfold when even dogs who previously were distracted in public learn how to focus on their handlers. I have had several clients now tell me how well their dog did in public and how impressed they and others were that the dog was so well behaved. That’s brought me a lot of joy and pride because I was able to help coach the teams to success. Service dog training clients are committed to the process, and you get to help coach the teams and be a part of strengthening that bond.