We regularly receive questions from those who have an interest in studying one of the programs at our School for Dog Trainers. Nobody is better placed to answer these questions than our students themselves – all of whom have lived and breathed the Master Dog Trainer course for the past six months.
We recently held a live and interactive Q&A session via Facebook, featuring five current students from Class 50. Watch the full stream below, or scroll down to read some of the key parts of the transcript!
Moderator: Greg Vaughn
Students (left to right, clockwise): Dakota, Sierra, Stasia, Katie, Mike
General recommendations for new students
One of the opening questions asked if our panel had any recommendations for a new student coming into the Master Dog Trainer program – whether from an equipment standpoint, or a mentality and approach to bring to the course.
A couple of students mentioned the importance of bringing suitable clothing – in particular, footwear. “Definitely bring shoes that can get wet,” remarked Sierra. “You’re going to need them when you’re trailing!”
Dakota also agreed that waterproof or water-resistant shoes were a must, “especially during morning obedience – the grass is wet, and you don’t want your feet to be wet all day long.” In addition, a pair of durable gloves to hold a leash was also recommended.
In terms of attitudes and mentalities for studying at the School for Dog Trainers, every member of the panel agreed it was vital to keep an open mind and not close yourself off to new ideas – a great philosophy for learning in general.
“Which course should I choose?”
With the range of programs offered at the School for Dog Trainers, it is useful to know about the differences between each of the programs.
Originally, Katie had opted to study the Service Dog Trainer program – but decided to switch to the Master Dog Trainer program before arriving for her course. “I was considering the Service Dog program by itself, but I switched to the Master program before I got here. I just felt it added another layer onto your education. It’s going to be useful, no matter what you decide to focus on.
Every single thing you do with dogs – no matter what it is – I think it all enhances your understanding of dogs in general. The behavior changes you’re going to see and be able to identify as a result of doing detection and police work are always going to apply to your basic obedience training, behavior modification, service dog tasks – it’s all connected.”
Favorite parts of the course
Every single student who enrolls in a course comes with a unique background, history and experience of working with dogs. This means that students may have expectations for certain parts of the course – so which sections have our students enjoyed the most?
“My favorite part was probably behavior mod…but probably the most beneficial for me was the service dog tasks,” explains Dakota. “You’ll learn a lot in the service dog section – and you can use them in everything that you’re going to possibly do with dogs.”
Sierra also believed the behavior modification and service dog aspects would be of use to her in the future – but what was the most interesting aspect of the course for her? “Detection and bitework! I came here terrified, because I’m literally very small and it’s scary…but it’s actually so much fun.”
“The behavior modification was super interesting to me,” said Stasia. “It’s something that I have done before, but things like extreme aggression cases or things that I would really love to do, but didn’t feel comfortable enough doing, I would now feel comfortable enough doing them. I feel like I know how to fix them effectively.”
Katie agreed that behavior modification was an extremely useful part of the course. “When you think about it, the entirety of dog training is behavior modification. You can take an extremely aggressive dog, and we learnt how to work through those issues with it, and basically guide that dog to a better life. It sounds dramatic, but it makes you feel really good about yourself.”
In addition to the study of canine behavior communication, Mike commented on how much he’d enjoyed the bitework section of the course. “It’s kind of like jumping on a ride – a little frightening, but once you step on it and go through it, it’s exhilarating. The work that we’ve done here, some of us have never done before, and brings us a new appreciation for the folks who work in those areas.”
What about homework, or extra work on weekends?
We are often asked about the structure of the curriculum and how much additional work is required outside of school hours.
In terms of homework, “it varies a fair amount,” according to Mike. “The projects that we’re working on, and book tests – we’re looking at a book test just about every week – and probably every two to three weeks, we’re reading a new book.”
Do students work with their dogs on weekends to help prepare for an upcoming practical? “It depends on the task,” Dakota responded. “But yes, I do that quite often, and it helps me. That’s what you’re here to do, so yeah, absolutely.”
If your weekends are busy, there are still options for students. “I’ve never come in on a weekend, but I’ve stayed after class for certain things,” explains Stasia . “There have been days where I’ve stayed after with a couple of other people and everyone’s done their thing. But for most tasks, the five day week is totally manageable to get everything you need accomplished.”
“You can definitely pass without coming in on the weekend or staying extra,” added Katie. “It’s just that if you want to go to that next step, you can come and work with your dog.”
These were just a few of the main insights from the Facebook Live Q&A – you can go back and watch the entire stream at your leisure for additional information.
If you have your own questions and missed out this time round, please feel free to browse the FAQ section of our website, or use our contact form . We can’t wait to hear from you!