December 2013 Dog Obedience Program Canadian Student Of The Month
Dog Obedience Instruction Program
Canadian Student of the Month
It is not often that people become known within their industry solely by word of mouth, yet that is exactly how current ABC student Nikki Headon became involved in the dog training world. She began doing basic obedience in the Lloydminster area (which straddles the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada) for extremely cheap or sometimes even for free. Around that same time, Nikki began volunteering at her local SPCA. Between her obedience training and volunteering, she quickly became known for her work with particularly aggressive dogs. She was inspired to work with dogs that most people would have given up on. This passion for helping dogs in need prompted her to start her own dog rehabilitation and rescue. Coca’s Promise specializes in helping dogs with behavior issues and has helped many cats and dogs find their forever homes.
How long have you been training? Do you specialize in particular type of training?
While I enjoy teaching beginner obedience classes, I am best known for working with aggressive dogs because there aren’t many trainers able or willing to do this type of work in our area. I have gained a lot of experience through the Kennel Club, fostering/ volunteering for the local SPCA and rescuing dogs through my own rescue.
What has been your most rewarding moment as a dog trainer?
Overall, I love seeing rescue dogs go from being broken to living their lives to the fullest. One moment that sticks out in my mind, separate from rescuing, is a lady I had in one of my first beginner classes who was struggling with her German shepherd puppy. She was of small build and loved her dog, but had difficulty controlling her. The dog was fixating, wanting to play but not showing good social skills with other dogs, and not listening to her owner at all if any distractions were around. They both showed huge improvement after the first class. I then had the pleasure of teaching them again through the Kennel Club a few months later. She was at the top of her class the second go around, and has since begun advanced classes with her dog.
Not only was I proud to see the growth in the dog, but seeing the owner be more confident and happy working with her dog was priceless. They have an excellent bond now, and her dog is eager to work for her and loves participating in obedience. It is great to see them doing so well, especially when I think of how much work and effort she gave to make sure her dog got there. It is very rewarding when you have clients who truly want the best for their dogs and are willing to give it their all to get results.
How did you hear about the ABC program and what convinced you to become certified?
I found Animal Behavior College through an online search. I saw they were in good standing with the Better Business Bureau, read online reviews, read about the course and saw there would be a hands-on (externship) portion, which made me very happy.
Which dog breed best describes you and why?
Any of the ‘bully’ breeds (American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, etc.) would best describe me because they love unconditionally, are loyal to their people and are extremely stubborn.
What are your future plans as a dog trainer?
I plan to purchase land and construct a boarding and training facility where the animals are exercised every day and can enjoy their stay. I would like to have it set up so I can work with a few aggressive animals safely if needed and have a large open area set up for a daycare-type setting during the day and used for obedience classes or seminars in the evenings or weekends. I also hope to have dogs from our rescue on site, although I think we will continue to use foster homes for the most part so that our adoptable dogs are living in a home setting until they are adopted.