As we write this in the middle of May, the month of January seems like it took place in a different lifetime. In reality, it has only been four short months.
Four months ago, we were in the midst of frozen windshields and icy sidewalks. Temperatures dipping – and staying – below freezing. Those long, dark, interminable evenings, where the sun hides and rarely returns. You take one step outside, and despite your layers – your scarf, your hat, your coat, your everything – that sudden, crisp chill of the brisk winter wind shudders through your body.
But inevitably, and eventually, the seasons turn. Winter turned to spring, and spring is turning to summer. The sun is here – and it is here to stay for a long while.
At the School for Dog Trainers, we’ve been experiencing our own ‘change in the seasons’. Back in January, we announced the launch of our Southeast Campus. Situated in Hanceville, Alabama, this additional campus location enables us to provide our programs to a larger pool of prospective dog trainers.
With the first group of students now graduated from programs at the Southeast Campus, we wanted to find out how the first few months have been – from students and instructors alike! We caught up with Austin Higgins and Melissa Vélez Schemankewitz – students who have just completed the Obedience and Behavior Professional program. We also spoke to Corey Archer, the Lead Instructor for the Southeast Campus.
Deciding to become a dog trainer
Melissa and Austin completed our six-week Obedience and Behavior Professional program. This course is ideal for anyone with an interest in canine behavior who wants to embark on a career in the dog training industry. The program combines a mix of classroom work with hands-on interaction with a wide array of dogs, offering prospective trainers the foundation they need to understand how dogs behave – and why.
As Austin explains, regardless of your prior education or career, there’s no reason not to start your journey as a dog trainer – and getting formal education has been shown to be a great place to start, for both potential opportunities and eventual remuneration.
“I was working with a friend of mine training my dog that actually graduated from the School for Dog Trainers a few years before I attended,” says Austin. “I actually quit my job of twenty years to pursue my dog training career.”
Austin was not alone in receiving recommendations from prior students.
“I learned about the School for Dog Trainers by searching on the internet and learning that this was one of the best places to become a dog trainer,” says Melissa. “But I also had references from other former students.”
What did the students think of the course?
Having decided to attend the School for Dog Trainers, Austin and Melissa studied diligently for six weeks, learning to understand how dogs behave in a variety of different situations.
“Every detail of the course is well thought-out and planned,” explains Melissa. “Theory matches hands-on experience, and it is a great start for every aspiring student who wishes to begin their career as a dog trainer.”
Austin echoed these sentiments. “I enjoyed every aspect of the class. I could not be happier with the School for Dog Trainers. – the trainers are top notch.”
Even though the length of the Obedience and Behavior Professional course is six weeks (in contrast, some programs are eight or twelve weeks, and the Master Dog Trainer program is 24 weeks), it covers a lot of ground. Students are able to gain a true understanding of canine behavior; study how dogs actually learn; get inside a dog’s mind; explore dog sports and specialties; and even understand how to market and advertise their own dog training business. This gives graduates the real-world skills they need to succeed in a competitive industry.
We asked Austin and Melissa which aspect of the course they enjoyed the most.
“It was great to get my hands on many different dogs with different personalities,” says Melissa. “I loved the opportunity to evaluate different cases and see the school’s professionals handling clients and dogs in real-time. I also found the behavior analysis and modification part of the program really interesting. I think it is very valuable, since most cases of behavior problems must be handled and diagnosed in a professional way.”
“The one-on-one instruction was amazing,” said Austin. “Corey is one of the best in the game – besides being a great teacher, he also is a great guy and became a good friend.”
Melissa agreed. ”Because we had more personalized lessons with our teacher, we got to absorb more information and ask more questions. The relationship between teacher and students was really good and it really made it feel like home.”
Advice for future students
Melissa didn’t hesitate when asked for her advice to anyone considering applying to attend a program at the School for Dog Trainers.
“I encourage people to take the step to become a dog trainer by attending a program here at the School for Dog Trainers. Having a formal education and a school that represents you is very important, but it is even more important to do things right for the dogs. The more you learn, the better service you can provide – not only to our beloved canines, but also to their families.”
Austin was in agreement.
“Everything was amazing from day one. These guys treated us like family – classmates became good friends.
I will definitely spread the word about Highland Canine and the School for Dog Trainers. Class #58 – I will never forget it!”
An instructor’s perspective
For Corey Archer – who has been an integral part of several facets of Highland Canine’s business for many years – these first few months at the Southeast Campus have been undoubtedly busy.
“The first few months have been very busy here at the Southeast Campus,” said Corey. “We were rushing to get our facilities ready, obtaining all of our proper licenses, and getting me prepared to begin teaching.
However, everything has gone to plan as a whole. We have had little issues along the way, but that was expected. We are finishing up with our second class and things have run smoother with this class than with the first. I am continuing to learn with every class and I expect things to continue to improve.”
Having been associated with the School for Dog Trainers and instructed at the main campus in North Carolina, Corey had some idea of what to expect – but admits it is different when you’re the one heading up campus operations. “I am personally having a great time. From a teaching standpoint, I kinda knew what to expect – but it is very different being the one responsible for making sure that everything is done correctly and seeing to it that everyone has everything that they need.
I have always enjoyed helping other people learn. So, Instructing has been really rewarding for me.”
As operations at the Southeast Campus continue to go from strength to strength, Corey has a clear message for prospective students.
“I would tell anyone interested in creating a career for themselves in dog training, that I believe our school is one of the premier schools available. I believe this because we have the ability to teach many different categories of training. Our students have the option of selecting a specific aspect of training or enrolling in the Master Dog Trainer Training Program, which will give them all aspects.
I have had the opportunity to watch our school grow from the very beginning and I know, first hand, how much pride is put into providing high quality education. I am super excited to be part of the expansion and future of the School For Dog Trainers.”