How did you get interested in training service dogs?
I started out as a special education teacher. I really enjoyed working with students with disabilities – being creative and finding pathways to help them succeed. About 15 years ago, after adopting my dogs Lucy and Pablo, who both had serious behavior problems, I became interested in dog training and decided to change careers. As a Service Dog Coach (SDC), I’m able to combine these skill sets and use my experience teaching people with disabilities and dog training. It’s really a perfect fit for me.
Tell us about your dog training business.
My dog training business has evolved over the years. I started out teaching basic manners and obedience. Then I earned the Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) title from IAABC and specialized in cases that required intense behavior modification plans. In time, I became interested in training therapy dogs and went on to become Head Trainer and Evaluator for K9 First Responders, a nonprofit that deploys therapy dog teams in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events. And, now I’m focusing on service dog coaching.
Tell us about your work training service dogs.
In addition to offering service dog coaching through my business, I’m the head trainer for Putnam Service Dogs — a nonprofit organization that trains rescue dogs to assist people with physical disabilities. Their motto is “We saved two lives.”
Has offering service dog training had an impact on your business?
Yes – after many years of working primarily with dogs who have serious behavior problems, I’ve shifted the focus of the business to service dog coaching. This has been an exciting transition. I’ve stopped accepting new severe behavior cases and I’m really enjoying working with service dog teams.
What did you like the most about the SDC course?
There were many things I liked about the SDC course, but there are three things that stand out.
- The instructor’s accessibility and knowledge of subject matter. Veronica always had time to thoroughly answer my questions.
- No freebies. If you passed this course – you earned it.
- Subject matter. It has the perfect combination of academic learning and hands-on projects.
After I completed the course I felt like I had everything I needed to become a successful service dog coach.