Service Dogs, Inc.’s Trainers Academy debuted our first Workshop: Assistance Dog Training for Professionals in June.
People were excited even before we started. The Workshop sold out and interest spilled over into a waiting list.
Tamara Kordowski introduced Workshop guests to some of the animals from her business Animal Encounters, including Arthur the sloth, at the Icebreaker.
We started with an Icebreaker Sunday evening. Trainers from California, Massachusetts, Florida, Indiana and other states across the country introduced themselves and shared their expectations and goals for the week. Some were from established Service Dog programs, others were interested in starting their own. Many expressed interest in learning more about training with positives. There are various levels of sophistication in implementing positive reinforcement in your training and this seminar was going to teach it at a very advanced level.
One of the huge draws of the Workshop was that the students worked with dogs from our training program throughout the week. Most Service Dog training courses offer mainly lecture or only permit students to work with the dogs they bring. We emphasized not only working with our dogs in training, but rotating the dogs, so students could work with a variety of them.
Students were very excited about Shelter Day at the Austin Animal Center, Austin’s municipal animal shelter. They wanted to learn how we evaluate shelter dogs for training. Many of them were interested following our lead of using shelter dogs for their programs instead of breeding. They watched as Al and Becky evaluated dogs, then set off to try it on their own. Everyone was even more excited when we found a “diamond in the ruff” at the shelter, a female Pyrenees mix, and actually adopted her for our Service Dog program! The students voted and we christened her “Willow”.
The week ended on a high with a public outing to Barton Creek Mall. Our Trainers coached the students on public work with eight of our advanced dogs. The day got even better with our banquet that evening. The students took it upon themselves to share with us, one by one, how much the Workshop meant to them, many breaking into tears as they told us how much they appreciated this opportunity to learn and how much valuable information, mentoring and support they received from Service Dogs, Inc.
Next year, we will be offering this Workshop two times: June 8-13 and July 13 – 18.
Registration will open soon, so check the Events Page on our website!