Michelle Blackwood, ABCDT, is a military mother and wife who has managed to balance her responsibilities - raising a family while training for a new career at Animal Behavior College to become a Certified Dog Trainer.
Michelle is a proud mother of two young children who are 3 and 4 years old, as well as her two dogs and seven cats. Michelle was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard and her husband is currently serving in the U.S. Navy. Being a part of a military family is something that makes Michelle’s living situation different from most others. Many times, military families are moved around, which can make it hard for spouses to train for and maintain a steady career.
In Michelle’s case, she was fortunate enough to pursue a career that allowed her to work and study from anywhere in the United States, regardless of where the Navy moved her and her family.
Michelle originally enrolled in Animal Behavior College’s Certified Dog Trainer program to help her with her own dog training issues.
The Australian Shepherd she had gotten from a breeder had severe socialization issues and was becoming unmanageable. "I figured the best way to fix my dog was to become a dog trainer myself," said Michelle.
ABC’s flexibility was a key component in Michelle’s success throughout the program. "For the first half of the course, I could study from home on my own time without having to worry about going to a classroom " it was great," she said.
Students complete the first nine stages of the ABC program from home and are provided with the luxury of studying on their own time. Each ABC student is assigned to a personal Program Manager who guides them through each stage of the course; although students study from home, they are never alone.
Once Michelle was finished with the in-home study portion of the ABC course, she was ready to move on to her hands-on training. Michelle’s Mentor Trainer worked one-on-one with her, bringing everything she had learned at home to life with dogs in real-life training situations. Michelle says the hands-on training filled in all the gaps and gave her a well-rounded and extensive education. She had the opportunity to work with her Mentor Trainer at a local animal shelter and was enlightened regarding the differences between training shelter dogs and pets that live in homes. Michelle feels that this is something that sets her apart from other trainers because she possesses this unique knowledge.
As a Certified Dog Trainer, Michelle recommends the ABC program to anyone who loves working with dogs and people and desires the comfort of setting their own schedule. She says, "The program gave me the flexibility to deal with the military aspect of my life; it’s a career you can take anywhere with you."
Michelle currently teaches group dog training classes when she’s available. Since her husband was recently deployed, she has had to take some time off but is excited to train again once she has more free time.
"I now have all the tools necessary to help other people with their animals and to help my own animals as well. I love giving advice to owners and I especially love working with puppies and being able to help them get started on the right ‘paw,’" says Michelle.
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