Service dog coach Julie Speyer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, owns Canine Foundations, a dog training and behavior consulting company in Ontario, Canada. In addition to service dog training, she and her team of trainers offer puppy training, behavior consultations, sport dog training and many other services.
Tell us about your dog training business.
My passion for canine behaviour and training began while I was an animal cruelty investigator and animal control officer for the Ontario SPCA. After eight years of serving as an officer and studying canine behaviour part time, I had gained the knowledge and skills to become a canine behaviour consultant. I opened Canine Foundations in 2007. Canine Foundations provides personalized, one-on-one training and behaviour consulting in the privacy of our clients’ homes. We have consultants who specialize in a range of disciplines, including fear, anxiety disorders, aggression and territorial behaviour, as well as scent detection and competitive dog sports. Recently, a staff member and I completed the Service Dog Coaching program, and we added service dog training to our list of offerings.
As partners with the Municipal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association and Georgian College, Canine Foundations also provides continuing education and employee training programs for professionals within the dog training, animal care, animal shelter and law enforcement fields.
What made you decide you wanted to train service dogs?
I have been a canine behaviour consultant for over 13 years, and a dog trainer for over 20; I love to learn new skills, and I regularly take a variety of continuing education courses to grow my knowledge base. My husband served for years with the Canadian Armed Forces, and was diagnosed with an occupational stress injury from his time in combat. I was acutely aware of the ever-mounting scientific evidence to support the great value of a service dog for injured veterans. I wanted to learn how to train a service dog for him.
Tell us about your work training service dogs.
To date I have trained 9 service dogs, including my husband’s, for Canadian Armed Forces Veterans suffering from occupational stress injuries. These dogs perform a range of duties, including deep-pressure therapy, interrupting nightmares and keeping the veteran on a schedule. I deeply enjoy watching the bond grow between the handler and dog while my human clients regain their independence and dignity.
How has offering service dog training affected your business, and how do you like it?
When you specialize in severe disorders such as aggression, or live under the pressure of competitive sports, service dog training really helps break up the emotional load and brighten your day. It had been a long time since I worked with temperamentally sound dogs. I almost forgot how fun training can be when you work with a dog who has the necessary disposition for service dog work. At this point we have volunteered much of our time as our way of giving back to those who have already given so much.
What advice would you give to trainers thinking about getting involved in service dog training?
Do it! No matter what road you decide to follow within the canine world, there will always be demand for this service, and it is hard to beat the emotional reward of empowering another person to live life to the fullest.