My name is Dawn and I’ve been training dogs for more than twenty years. I started out as a veterinary assistant. In 1999, I was working with the kenneled animals at North Locust Animal Hospital in Sterling, Illinois. Dr Carlos Dominguez gave me permission to offer classes to some of our clients for free, in order to help them with socialization. Behavior was my passion and I read every book available and I had a plethora of dogs to work with at the clinic.
By 2001, I was doing some training at a pet store chain in Ocala, FL. I found that the training programs there were too “cookie cutter” for my taste. I had always been involved with animal rescue in one way or another and I found that I could help home more dogs by teaching them to assist people with mobility issues. I researched training methods, tried methods on my own dogs, and became clicker proficient.
In 2002, I took a course by Karen Pryor in clicker training. By this time I was also certified by ABTA, Animal Trainers Behavioral Association. I became certified through the AKC to train and evaluate dogs for the Canine Good Citizen program. I began to train and home service dogs. I had to develop my own training methods because I was strictly clicker training dogs and no one else was training service dogs this way at that time. Over the years, I’ve had service dogs placed and working in five different states. These include Florida, Illinois, Texas, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania.
Throughout my career, I’ve continued to learn, take courses, and expand my skill set. I use positive training methods because they are, frankly, what works. I continue to charge less than others in my area because I feel that training should be available to everyone, regardless of income. I do public outreach and offer free classes to help teach people in Houston’s Third Ward about positive training, the importance of spaying and neutering, and heartworm prevention in our climate, here on the bayou.
I continue efforts to help train service dogs at low or no cost to people and to do private lessons for those who are attempting to train their own service dogs. I hope to begin offering group classes very soon as well. I intend to teach special group classes for service dog trainees, group classes designed for aggressive dogs who are hypersensitive to their environments and other dogs, and also classes for the everyday house pets. I have plans to begin placing PTSD dogs and diabetes alert dogs with people as soon as this year (2017).