A New Era in Training
On June 1st the FSDS will launch the new SD Trainer Academy. Last month we outlined how the program is constructed. This month, we take a closer look at the intent of the program and what we hope to accomplish.
A Holistic Approach
While most other canine training programs offer education in canine skill training, behavior and the basics of canine care, we have taken this a step further. It is our belief that programs that focus all of their attention solely on the dog fall short in helping new trainers develop the skills needed to be truly effective. We realize that when approaching canine training, you have two students to consider- the dog and their human. Let’s face it- the dog will not be the one to contact you and sign up.
When approaching SD training, this issue of training the humans is further complicated by the fact that as opposed to a general obedience class, a SD class will exclusively contain a population of humans with varying levels of ability and disability. For many, the issues of chronic pain, PTSD, polypharmacy and such will impose secondary learning challenges for the humans. Since a SD trainer relies on the human to go home and be in charge of the training during the intervening time between classes, addressing the learning challenges is critical to success. An entirely different approach must be taken to education.
Ask any experienced teacher and they will tell you that teaching is a specialized skill set. We believe that there are three developmental tasks for our students as they progress through their journey to become competent SD trainers:
- know what you do not know
- learn how to learn
- teach how to teach
Our Academy is designed to move students through this process and help them to develop those skills needed to become proficient trainers who are able to address the myriad needs of both dogs and humans.
Dog Training vs Management
It is our belief that unless a trainer fully understands what is required to keep their business up and running, they will not be successful. The dog training that goes on inside of the classroom is typically the “easy part” of the job. It is what goes on behind the scenes in preparation for the lessons, and to manage the business that occupies most of the time and energy of the trainer. While most programs do not provide instruction on how to start and manage a business or how to organize instructional materials into a comprehensive and logical curriculum, we have taken considerable time to address these issues. Students who graduate from the FSDS Academy will leave with a clear understanding of what is required for them to be effective managers.
Depending on which statistics you read and how they go about data collection, most are in general agreement that that for the average small business, only approximately 1/3 will survive to the 10 year mark. This is a sobering number, and one that all new trainers need to be aware of. It is a goal of our Academy that our trainers will graduate with the skills needed to start, maintain and grow a successful training business.
Young trainers who are starting out may face a “playing field” that is not level with regard to their students. A SD program tends to run the gamut from young people to adults; from little education to those with doctorate degrees; and those who are starting out in life to those who are retired and have extensive life and work experience above and beyond that of the trainer. It is important for all trainers, and especially those who are starting out, to understand how to effectively manage a diverse classroom. Just as a SD handler must be the leader of their team, so must a trainer be the leader of their class. Students who attend the FSDS Academy will receive the necessary instruction on classroom management to leave them feeling confident and competent in any situation.
How to apply – we have been encouraged by the number of requests for applications we have received since last month, and urge those interested in a career in SD training to learn more. Click here to request an application packet.
For the many of you who come out faithfully to celebrate graduation with us each year, we remind you that this year graduation will be on July 29th, not in May as in prior years. Please mark this on your calendar.
Graduation is a joyous time, and a time for us all to be reminded of the plight of all of our deserving heroes who have risked their lives to protect us both abroad and here at home. Each year, we turn to our readers to invite you to help us support those in need. This year, we have some specific needs for graduation:
- purchase of comp tickets for graduates and their families ($50 each) or a table of 10 for $500
- donations of items for a silent auction
- donations of gift cards for pet retail stores
- donations of money to allow us to provide working equipment for the graduating dogs including booties, vests, harnesses and collars / leads
A graduation is costly, but we believe that this is a necessary event for all. For the extraordinary teens who have devoted the last 18 months of their lives to raise a SD for someone in need, this provides closure and helps them to move on. For those who will receive a SD from our program, this is a validation that their services, and ultimate physical challenges, are recognized and appreciated.
We ask that our readers join us in rewarding the hard work and dedication of our program participants by helping us to make graduation a special time for all.
Puppy Class: In April the class took a field trip to Target and local parks to start training for Public Access Testing (PAT) and have received lots of compliments from customers as the class worked their way through the store. They will be taking practice tests next Saturday. They have also been working on “go get help” this past month. Students got to practice answering questions from the public and educating them. Everyone did great! The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) will be taken next month. Zanna Fehr and Duke are to be commended for their work this past month- they have made huge gains in mastering their CGC skills. Kudos also to Daisy Saenz and Indy for their outstanding gains in mastering obedience skills. If you encounter our teams when you are out in public, please take the time to stop and let them know their good work is appreciated.
Advanced class: This class also took a field trip to Target and other locations to practice for the final certification test. Phenomenal leave-its were demonstrated. The teams are building confidence for service skills in public areas. Lots of bonding between recipients and student trained dogs. The recipients handled the dogs the entire day on this field trip while student-handlers stepped back and gave verbal guidance and support. Lovely to see students growing into the leaders of tomorrow. This sort of reciprocal mentoring between student trainers and recipients is one of the things that has made our program special. Tim Smith and Zazu have also done an outstanding job with working in public with distractions. Special congratulations to Amanda Van Asdall and “Doug” and Bill Riley and “Sully” for their outstanding work over the past month.
We would like to take the opportunity to inform our readers of the many pet food recalls that have been issued thus far in 2017. It appears that many different brands are processed at the same plant, leading to multiple recalls for the same issues. Though some recalls are for concerns of food poisoning, there are been an excess of notable recalls for:
- pentobarbitol contamination – this is a drug used for euthanasia
- shards of metal fragments in the food
We urge all readers to sign up to receive pet food recall notices. It appears that most of these recalls are for canned food. Please take this into consideration when making decisions to select can food vs kibble for your dog’s dietary needs. Consult with your veterinarian for any questions or need for advice.
A warm welcome
We are pleased to welcome two new military families to our program this past month. A warm welcome to:
- Catherine Teel
- Jacob Cosper
A special thank you
Our sincere thanks to the following individuals for their generous financial support:
- Larry and Gail Freels
- Valerie Schluter
Many thanks to Ofc. Frank Marino from the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association for lending his voice and expertise to our efforts to provide education regarding police officers and PTSD. We recently turned to Frank for input into the educational materials to be used for the SD Trainer Academy. Frank was all too happy to take time out from his very busy schedule to provide excellent insight, which has been incorporated into our training. PLEA has been supportive of FSDS programs and community education efforts over the years and we appreciate their involvement. Four paws up!
A very special thanks to Sharon Richter for taking over managing the FSDS social media accounts. Many of you have already responded to some of her recent posts, and we are so looking forward to enjoying her updates.
June 9 – Community presentation in Scottsdale, AZ
July 7 – July 8: AZ Families for Home Education (AFHE) Conference, Phoenix Convention center, South Bldg, 33 S. 3rd St., Phoenix, AZ ; the FSDS will be on hand at booth #1209 to invite youths and families to participate in our youth training program.
July 29: Graduation 2017; 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix No., 10220 N Metro Pkwy E, Phoenix, AZ