ABC Dog Training Program
Student of the Month
When Karen Garmon was just 14 years’ old, she met a woman with lupus who had several service dogs to help her with everyday life. Karen knew right then that she wanted to become a dog trainer to help others in similar situations. However, it wasn’t until recently—when her children were old enough—that she enrolled at Animal Behavior College to pursue her dream of becoming a dog trainer. Karen recently finished her externship and is currently doing her volunteer hours for ABC’s Students Saving Lives program. After her externship, the owner of a veterinary office reached out to Karen to see if she would be interested in teaching classes and working as a behavior consultant. She never imagined she would have such a great opportunity presented to her before she even graduated. She was pleasantly surprised by how things seemed to fall in place.
“The options are really limitless, and the sky is truly the limit,” Karen said. “When you love what you do, and the work is fun, you know you have found your niche.”
- Where do you live and train now?
I live in Lawrenceville, Ga., and am working for a pet sitting/dog training company and doing private training on the side. I will start teaching obedience classes this summer at a local vet’s office.
- What was the biggest challenge you have faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was finding a place to do my volunteer hours. I decided to join the Georgia Jail House Dog Program with Second Chance. The jail pulls dogs from a local shelter and the inmates train them. I go to the jail once or twice a week and work with the inmates on their dogs.
- During your volunteer hours, describe one pet story that touched you the most.
The most touching part so far is how many of the inmates have inquired about ABC. So many of those guys love being the handlers of their assigned dog; they feel a sense of accomplishment and have a new outlook on life since learning positive-training methods. Maybe some of them will go on to pursue a new way of life when they get out of jail by becoming dog trainers.
- What has been your most rewarding moment as a dog trainer?
I started working with a deaf Dalmatian puppy this week. Instead of using a clicker we use a flashlight, and she is learning so many new things. But the reward really comes when the family you are working with is so grateful for the tools they learn and when they are successful with their pup.
- Which dog breed best describes you and why?
I am probably a mix of a German shepherd and a Labrador: fast learner, love to work and play.