Ginger Hetrick, CCDT, SDC owns Pawsitively Obedient Dog Training. She offers a variety of training services including puppy training, basic and advanced obedience, behavior consultations and service dog training in clients’ homes in Columbia, Lexington, and surrounding areas of South Carolina. In addition to her certificate in Service Dog Coaching, she is a CATCH Certified Dog Trainer and is a member of the Pet Professional Guild. Ginger is also a mentor trainer with CATCH, and she enjoys assisting aspiring trainers in their education.
What made you decide you wanted to train service dogs?
I decided I wanted to train service dogs for the same reason I became a professional dog trainer: I wanted to make a positive difference. Service dog training takes my skills and education to a higher level, which allows me to better assist my community as a whole, from shelters and rescues to business owners, pet owners and of course those with disabilities who need the assistance of a trained service dog.
Tell us about your work training service dogs?
I expanded Pawsitively Obedient to include a program focused on service dogs, Assistive Paws. My service dog work is exciting and ever-changing. No two clients are the same. The dogs are always a breath of fresh air and yet challenging in the same moment. I have the best, most rewarding job in the world!
Tell us about your dog training business.
Pawsitively Obedient Dog Training offers manners training, basic and advanced, as well as behavior management and modification in clients’ homes. We prepare teams for the AKC Canine Good Citizen test, and evaluate CGC candidates as well. We offer discounted rates to rescue groups in our area who need help with training of the dogs in their care.
Has offering service dog training had an impact on your business?
Yes, offering this service has made a huge impact on my business! I have several service dog clients and other professional trainers in my area who refer service dog-related inquiries to me. I am receiving more calls and being noticed more.
Also, having the education to train service dogs gives me more credibility with pet owners. They tell me that they saw on my website that I also train service dogs, so they feel confident in my knowledge to answer their questions and train their family pets.
What motivated you to enroll in the SDC course?
I did my research and found nothing but rave reviews of Veronica and the curriculum in the SDC course. I was ready to learn. I wanted to have answers when someone asked about service dog training.
What did you like the most about the SDC course?
It’s hard to pinpoint what I liked most about the SDC course. Going in, the subject I thought I had the most to learn about was laws pertaining to service dogs. I was especially eager to tackle task training, and I found the challenges of that section especially humbling! Learning how to communicate with and coach people with disabilities was a huge eye-opener. Through it all, I was grateful for Veronica and her willingness to assist. She was always there to answer my questions.
I went into the course with the firm belief that no animal should be subjected to pain or fear in the name of training. I appreciate the SDC program’s emphasis on using pain-free and fear-free methods and tools. It’s even in the code of ethics!
What advice would you give to trainers thinking about getting involved in service dog training?
I would recommend that trainers interested in getting into service dog training seek an education above a solid foundation in professional dog training. As I learned throughout the program, there is much more to service dog training than knowing how to train dogs.