Lisa owns Head of the Class Dog Training, located in Winchester, Virginia. They offer an impressive range of training services, including private training and group classes for puppies, CGC prep, therapy dog work, tricks, and Phys Ed for Fido, which focuses on building strength, balance, and flexibility for both performance-dogs and family-dogs. In all of the training that Head of the Class offers, Lisa emphasizes teaching humans how to communicate with their dogs in a way that is fun for both species.
In addition to her Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coaching™ certificate, Lisa holds numerous credentials and certifications in dog training. She is a certified Karen Pryor Academy graduate and a member of the Pet Professional Guild. We are grateful that Lisa took some time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions.
What made you decide you wanted to train service dogs?
I do a lot of therapy dog training and evaluating (as well as therapy work with my own dogs), so I get a lot of calls from people interested in therapy dogs, emotional support animals, and service dogs. Since the public behavior expectations of a therapy dog and service dog have similarities, it seemed to be a good fit for me. There is a need for people who would benefit from a service dog to get support training.
What motivated you to enroll in the SDC course?
I kept getting requests for service dog training, but I did not feel I knew enough about the topic. When trying to find places to refer the callers, I found very little in the way of positive reinforcement options. Veronica is a skilled, positive-reinforcement trainer, so her program was exactly what I needed to become comfortable helping owners train their service dogs in a way that is enjoyable, fair, and free of intimidation.
What did you like the most about the SDC course?
The feedback given after the lessons was specific, detailed, and helpful. Veronica is a warm and generous person and a fantastic trainer.
What has surprised you about working with service dogs?
For such a serious topic and important set of skills and expectations, service dogs are a lot of fun. I admire the owner-trainers so much because they have to be extremely dedicated to their training schedules. I admire the dogs because they have high expectations placed on them.
What advice would you give to trainers thinking about getting involved in service dog training?
You will be a problem solver, a chef, and a master chemist — mixing and matching ingredients to get the best recipe — because each owner and dog situation is slightly different. The training plans are dictated by a blend of the client’s needs and the safety and wellbeing of the dog.