Like numerous kindhearted animal lovers, ABC Certified Dog Trainer Katie Whelpley began her dog training journey by volunteering with a rescue organization – Pound Buddies Rescue in Muskegon, Michigan. After fostering and training many homeless hounds (and even adopting a 150-pound Rottweiler named Carl), Katie decided to take her training to the next level by enrolling in the ABC Certified Obedience Instructor Program. “Training came naturally to me, and I decided that I liked working with problem behavior dogs as well. I chose ABC and was on my way,” she says.
As a stay-at-home mother with a son and a busy schedule, Katie found the home-study portion of the ABC program to be exceptionally convenient. She excelled through all nine stages of the ABC curriculum and was motivated by the strong support she received from the ABC staff. “Everyone at ABC really cared,” she says. “If I had any questions, I always had a response within 24 hours and they always checked in to make sure everything was going as planned.”
When Katie completed her home-study, it came time for her to be set up for her hands-on externship. Katie was set up to apprentice with ABC Mentor Trainer Jodi Cole. “My favorite part was the externship,” she says. “No other school offered the opportunity to work with an experienced trainer, and that to me is priceless.” During her externship, Katie’s Mentor Trainer enlightened her by showing her different ways in which she could use her newfound dog training skills. “Not only did I get hands-on practice, but Jodi offered to further my education with search & rescue and prison/police dogs. She was awesome.”
Since Katie’s graduation from ABC in March of 2008, she has built an impressive repertoire of dog training endeavors. Immediately after her graduation, she was offered a position as a staff trainer at Petco. She will also soon become a trainer at the Dog Star Ranch in Michigan. Aside from working at training facilities, Katie conducts private, in-home training lessons where she helps owners cope with dogs with aggression issues or separation anxiety. “That is what I enjoy the most,” she says of her private lesson training.
In the future, Katie plans to continue her education in search & rescue as well as protection. “I am also getting into agility, CGC certifying, and am working my way to protection training,” she says. “I will be offering protection training after I have been fully trained and successful with it.” Because of her impressive achievements, she intends to stay on a progressive path towards becoming an even more accomplished dog trainer. “Now that I am doing what I love and I am successful with it, I will always be training full time,” she says.
In regards to the ABC program, Katie advises: “To be a success, you have to start at the beginning. That is exactly what I did. I started with ABC, got my certification, then continued advancing in training.” Her advice for anyone interested in becoming a dog trainer is to get involved with a rescue organization first. “Getting involved in a rescue will give you a good idea of a lot of the problem dogs that are out there and why training is so important,” she explains.
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