Certified service dog coach Yuching Desch, CPDT-KA, CTDI, CNWI, offers coaching for owner trainers with PTSD or a mobility disability, to support them in their goals to train a service dog. Through her business, K9 Learning, she also offers in-person pet dog training and behavior consultations, among other training services in Marin County, California, and virtual training services to clients outside this area.
What made you decide you wanted to train service dogs?
I had several clients approach me regarding service dog training, and I didn’t have any knowledge about service dog training specifically. I didn’t feel like I could offer good quality training in this area without first learning about it myself.
Tell us about your work training service dogs.
I coach clients to train their service dog candidates. My service dog clients are people with PTSD or people with mobility disabilities. I meet them for individual sessions, and the training takes place at clients’ homes or in public spaces. It’s very fulfilling to see both the owner and dog strengthen their connection as well as seeing the clients be able to go out with ease.
Tell us about your dog training business.
K9 Learning is based in San Anselmo, California. I meet with clients for private sessions in person or over Zoom. I support clients with training needs that include puppy training, general obedience training, tricks and nosework, and I offer behavior consultations for dogs exhibiting fearful or aggressive behavior. It’s always been my passion to help pet dogs build their confidence and showcase their nice manners out and about.
Has offering service dog training had an impact on your work?
Although I am not working with a large number of service dog clients at the moment, the knowledge I gained from the SDC program has given me a new perspective in my work with fearful dogs. Knowing what skills a service dog needs in a public space helps me set a higher standard for my pet dog clients so that they can be more in tune with their dogs’ behaviors in public. I also work to increase my clients’ service dog awareness so that they don’t just approach another dog for interaction, and so they give service dog teams the right-of-way when they see one.
What motivated you to enroll in the SDC course?
Once I realized that I needed to learn about service dogs, I began looking around to see what was out there. Veronica drew my attention with her book Service Dog Coaching: A Guide for Pet Dog Trainers. I started reading it and found Veronica’s teaching informative and practical. Then I found her website with the SDC program. I enrolled in two short courses, including one about PTSD task training, and loved what I learned. This led to me enroll in the SDC program to learn what I needed to know to work with SD clients.
What did you most enjoy about the SDC course?
The self-paced nature of the SDC course was great. The information and videos presented were well structured. What I loved most was how personable Veronica was. She was always so responsive whenever I had questions or needed feedback on my homework assignments. Her being available and always providing her honest feedback in a timely manner really made the whole online learning experience wonderful for me.
What has surprised you about working with service dogs?
I am always surprised that many people don’t know a good service dog takes up to two years to train. I get many emails asking about service dog training, and they often want the dog to be trained and ready in less than a year. People also think they can easily turn a pet dog into a service dog. With my knowledge gained from the SDC program, I am able to educate clients on accurate expectations as well as maintaining a high standard regarding the quality of my training service. I may be turning some clients away, but I won’t accept a client who can’t make the long-term commitment and plan ahead of time for getting a service dog.