I began my Dog Training Journey at 14 when I took my German Shepherd pup to obedience classes down at Southern. I didn’t stay long as I found the instructors to be unhelpful and could not or would not help me or answer my questions. I left disillusioned by the experience.
When I turned 19 I took up an offer of a trainee ship with Australian Dog Training (ADT) where I was working as an admin on the desk on Sunday mornings and Thursday nights after work.
I became the first female trainer through their system and the very first female Decoy in the protection training.
My trainee ship with the NDTF (national dog trainers association) was completed and worked a total of 10 years for ADT primarily as their developer and class trainer of the Puppy and Young Dog Program. During this time I had my own clients within the Protection Dog program where I learned critical skills in working dogs in drive and aggression.
My job entailed taking classes in all levels of obedience and socialization, the new client program including being the decoy in their demo each training day and assessing new dogs for sign up. As trainers we were also responsible for teaching the new trainees and supervising their interaction with clients.
After 10 years I resigned from ADT and began a new business with three other trainers and so Alpha Dog Training began. We worked hard and managed to build up cliental and then began to take on other trainers and trainees. We tried alternative training tools when the dog laws were changed and became specialists in the use of the head halter. We took on all breeds and all problems, nobody was turned away. With mixed feelings I signed off on that business in 2001 and began my solo career in the Dog Training world with ‘Dogsquad’ providing small classes that could be managed by a single trainer and kept busy.
In 2003 I began working with an Animal Wrangler and helping out on jobs in between my other work. It was a great experience and I learned a lot from Luke Hura over that time. Luke was looking at leaving the industry and wanted to hand over to another wrangler to fulfill current and pending contracts so I agreed to go full time and left my other jobs to pursue this career.
After a couple of years of wrangling work Luke decided he actually wanted to continue with his career so I stepped back and only continued in the jobs I had sourced myself.
At this time I also decided to renew my ties with ADT and went back as a trainer. I didn’t realize how much I had missed the interaction with classes and the mental stimulation of being around other trainers. It was a great 4 years and I am still in contact with these trainers today.
We moved to the North East for my husbands job at the time so I resigned again from ADT and said goodbye. I down scaled the wrangling as the distance to Melbourne for work was too great and finished up my current contracts. I occasionally still get calls and field them to others trainers and wranglers or find them the contacts to get the shoot done. I still love the industry and enjoy whatever small part I still have in it. The more recent work that I have down are “Please like me”, “jack Irish, “house husbands”, “Oddlands” and a couple of TVC, one for a camera company and another for Carpet Call.
In 2006/7 I began consulting work for Vicpol and their foster pup program. I took classes for them on a monthly basis down at their headquarters and all of us foster carers got together for some obedience and socialization. We worked through any issues that were happening at home and formed a support network for each other. I fostered pups for Victoria Police for about 9 years and had approximately 20 dogs come through in that time. Some full time from 10 weeks of age and others for just awhile in between other foster carers.
I missed my boys when they went back but it is a very emotionally rewarding past time.
In 2015 I went back to working for the NDTF and became a trainer and assessor for them taking classes of Melbourne Students as well as Block trainers for the Cert 3 in Dog Training and Behaviour course.
I am still currently splitting my time between that and my own business.
Another offshoot of Dogsquad Canine Services is the Training Treat range. I am also a qualified Chef so I have combined skill sets to improve the training experience for my clients and their dogs.
This was initially due to incidences within the Pet Food industry and my loss of trust in the big companies after multiple dog deaths to Megaoesophagus and cancer tumours along with an escalation in extreme behavioural issues.
The response of the dogs to the training treat range has been amazing, motivating even the most stubborn of dogs to try harder and to participate in a range of formats. My own dogs have been the taste testers along with client and student dogs. They can be formulated for specific dietary needs according to the protein source.
Dogsquad Canine Services takes on clients who need help with their dogs without discrimination against breeds. I do not judge aggression, reactivity, fear or dominance. This is dogs just being dogs who need help to learn to make better choices and to deal with their environment in a more balanced way. I am available for private consults and am running small group classes local to me.
In the last few years I have been invited into a few dog clubs to help with engagement and motivation as well as reactivity management. This has been such a great time for me, to see clubs open their doors and hearts to other training methods and look for solutions to the escalation of reactivity cases coming to them for help. Helping each other, advancing our education as trainers and service providers is vital.
The advent of so many trainers now taking seminars and workshops is a fantastic opportunity for all of us on so many levels. I have enjoyed the last few years of getting out there and learning from so many brilliant minds and hope to continue to do so, facilitating changes in the way I provide my own services to the Dog Industry. Who knows where this will go?