Animal Behavior College Reviews & Success Stories

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Bonnie Hess

For as long as I can remember, I have had a spirit that moves me to nurture children and animals. At 6 years old, I rescued my first cotton tail bunny whose mother had been killed. When I was 7 years old, with no dog of my own, I begged all the neighbors to let me walk theirs, which they permitted gladly. With joy, our family added a shepherd/collie mix to our brood of kids, cats, birds, and tropical fish when I was 8 years old. As I found delight in playing with and training the puppy to bring in the newspaper and mail, my neighbors all swore I would grow up to be a veterinarian.

Things do not always turn out as expected, and I continued my education in psychology rather than veterinary school. Instead of working with animals, I chose to work with and offer support for families of children, ages birth to three, who had delays and disabilities. But, since being given my first dog, I have always had at least one dog and one cat beside me. They keep me centered and remind me of grace and forgiveness. Over the years, I have trained my furry kids, and participated in dog therapy. My rescued BC mix, Nicki, easily earned her CGC and Therapy Dog International by the time she was three years old. She is now 11.

After years of social work, I wanted to put effort into my other passion, my passion for dogs, and I wanted to support families in forming a strong bond with their pet so their pet would be a life long companion. I found Animal Behavior College to help support me in this goal. It took me two years to decide to enroll, but I am forever thankful that I finally made that leap because ABC gave me the resources I needed to start a business in dog training. Even more, with the support of the dedicated ABC trainers and staff, I was motivated to learn all I could about dogs, behavior, communication, and training. That part of my life has given me renewed energy and purpose. I am now working part time, rather than full time, with children who have an autism spectrum disorder. I have begun my dog training business and am excited to watch that part of my life grow. One of my goals is to find ways in which dogs can help children, perhaps even in the classrooms here. I also enjoy volunteering with my daughter at the humane league, where we walk the dogs and teach them basics so they may have an easier time in finding a forever family. At home, I enjoy the love of my furry and faithful companions: our 7 year old queen-of-the-house cat, Siki, and our dogs: my sweet natured Nicki, and 6 year old Spirit, my Samoyed who brings challenge and humor to the family. Thank you, ABC, for your fine curriculum which includes hands on training! My dogs thank you as well because they have benefited from what I have learned through your program.


Thomas Hall

Enrolling in the ABC and helping train dogs has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I had the distinct pleasure to train at a facility specifically designed to train service dogs, and I was amazed how much these animals could learn.

After graduating from Animal Behavior College, my relationship with my two dogs, Stan and Hank, has grown considerably stronger. I now understand how they learn, and I better understand their needs. I am now volunteering my time at rescue leagues to help transition "rescue dogs" into family companions. We have so much to learn ourselves from these great animals...they make us better people!


Monica Oesterling
Human/Dog Interaction Coach at The Canine Club

I never left The Canine Club after my ABC externship.

During daycare hours, I am privileged to observe raw interaction among about 50 dogs. The classes I teach are beginning obedience and also pre-agility where we learn to fine-tune basic obedience. One day, I plan to have my own business.


Jessica Ebel

As is the case with most ABC students, I grew up with dogs. I've always loved being around animals. As a child, we had up to five dachshunds at any given time, and when I was in high school we adopted our first greyhound. My first job was at Petco. I've always tried to find some sort of way to incorporate animals into my life.

After I graduated from college, I quickly became aware that I wanted to find some sort of way to include more time with animals in my life. ABC seemed like the perfect way to do it. Since it was a distance learning program, I knew I could continue to work full time while studying. I was fortunate to be paired up with an excellent mentor trainer who took me under her wing and taught me a great deal. I attended several of her classes at a time and accompanied her on private lessons. I still continue to contact her with questions, as dog training is certainly an ongoing learning process.

As a current adoptive pet owner, I understand how rewarding it is to adopt an animal and watch them progress from a sometimes troublesome animal into a true family pet. And I'm also aware as to how many dogs' lives can be saved with a little basic training and better understanding from their humans. My job as a dog trainer is to help bring together both dogs and their people so both sides can understand each other better.


Sharon Davis

As you can see from the picture, I am not young and this could be a very long article. Fortunately, the story of my involvement with ABC is much shorter.

It began in July of 2002 with the loss of THE dog. You know, the one you never forget, still tell the stories about even though he has been gone for years. His name was Dover and he was a 95 pound black Lab/Dalmatian mix. When it was obvious the end was near for him, I started looking for another dog. I saw a handsome 5-year old male Dalmatian on the Dalmatian rescue web page that turned out to be my first Dalmatian adoption. His name is Brindy, and he is the one in the picture with me.

That adoption was just the beginning of a houseful of “spotty bodies”, some adopted, some just here as a foster home, but all walking in the door with a mountain of emotional baggage. For a couple of years, the pet handling skills I grew up with, a lot of love, and some hard work was enough. Then Merlot came to my house.

Merlot was a beautiful 2-year old black and white Dalmatian male that had been shunted from foster home to foster home and finally came to me. I have always had a talent for getting along with dogs, and Merlot bonded with me the moment he walked in the door.

Two months and several bared teeth and growling episodes followed by very loving behavior later, Merlot burst out the front door and ran to a horse stable not far from the house. His attack on one of the horses was so vicious that when the farmer came out of the house with a shotgun, I told him if he could get a clear shot, to shoot the dog. But the attack ended as abruptly as it had started, and Merlot calmly trotted to a 10-year old boy who was holding a leash and sat for the leash to be attached to his collar, then walked meekly back to the house with me.

Putting down a physically healthy dog is just not in me, so I took Merlot to be evaluated by a canine behavior specialist, and the diagnosis was separation anxiety. The recommended course of treatment was 4 to 6 private training sessions, which, after all, doesn’t sound like that much. In addition, Merlot’s adopter would need at least some special help in how to handle him and the prognosis was that Merlot would never be a dog that you could depend on his behavior. The cost of the treatment would be $600 to $900. To the rescue group with their limited funds, saving Merlot translated to 12 to 18 shelter fees for other dogs that could be saved, dogs that weren’t 60 pounds of dangerous dog.

When I came home from holding Merlot in my arms as he slipped into his final sleep, I went online looking for dog training courses, determined to obtain the skills needed so that the life of the next troubled dog would not depend on the ability of the rescue group to pay for treatment.

As I have acquired skills during my ABC studies, it has been a bittersweet accomplishment, especially when I realize the mistakes I made in handling Merlot that may have contributed to his anxiety. But I take great comfort in knowing that although Merlot never got the chance to be THE dog, he will never be forgotten. Because of him and the excellence of my training with ABC, not only will the troubled dogs get the help they need from me, but the others will have training to make them more desirable to potential adopters.

So, my plan is not to become a professional trainer, but to use these skills to help rescued dogs, and to spare the dogs that I own the things I have been doing so incorrectly for such a very long time.


Nora Anderson
Owner of Anderson Canine Training

I became interested in dog training when I was just a youngster. I spent many years training and playing with the family dog...a long haired Beagle named Susie. During this time I became intrigued with animal behavior and the psychology of how they think and learn. In my adult life, while earning a Masters in Teaching, I trained and showed my English Pointer, competing in conformation and obedience.

As the years went by, I owned and trained many family dogs from Dobermans and German Shepherds to Terriers and Corgis. Raising three children, earning an Associates degree in Social Work and becoming a Licensed Realtor kept me busy, but I finally came to understand that my true calling was in canine training.

When I first explored the possibility of entering a canine training program, I searched the Internet to find just the right school. After much research, I decided to enroll in Animal Behavior College and I have sung their praises throughout the entire year of my studies. Everyone made me feel special and offered their advice and services freely. The curriculum was intense and very thorough. I graduated with Honors feeling confident that I could go out into the world, and I began my own business called Anderson Canine Training.

I would highly recommend ABC, and have done so, to anyone who is interested in pursuing this rewarding career. Thank you so much for enabling me the opportunity to pursue my life long desire and begin a new journey with canine training.


Sharon Bartlett
Owner of Bartlett's Tail Waggin' Dog Training

My name is Sharon Bartlett. I am a wife, mother of two grown children and the proud grammie of three. I worked as an accounts payable/purchasing clerk for sixteen years, until I left to pursue my dream of working with animals.

I adopted a shelter dog, Ginger, a border collie mix and while working on getting her trained, I discovered that I wanted to help other shelter animals become adopted and live better lives. Also, I wanted to help other people build better relationships with their animals, so they would not end up in shelters.

I have just completed my year- long studies and have graduated from Animal Behavior College as an ABC Certified Dog Trainer. It has been a very rewarding year. I did all my tests online and then worked with a trainer to do my externship. Part of my training was to work at the local shelter, which I will continue to do. It is very rewarding. I not only help with the cleaning and feeding of the animals, I work with the dogs on learning better behaviors. Most of the dogs now sit for treats, they don’t bark as much and we play in the yard. I have started a program at the shelter that has a letter go with each dog that is adopted. I write it, from the dog to his/her new Mom and Dad. I list all the things they have overcome since they have been at the shelter. I give the new Mom and Dad a few hints on what to continue to work on with the dog…any problems the dog has and suggestions to overcome those problems. I hope that it helps the people treat the dog well and to let them know they can call on me for help.

Anyone thinking about working with animals will find that Animal Behavior College is the way to do that. The college works with you to overcome any problems, and you make good friends with everyone you work with during your training. My future is looking very bright right now. I can’t wait to start really working with all the animals in the area.


Barbara Richards

After 27 years of working in an office as an Administrative Assistant, I had become frustrated and decided that I needed a career change. My family had 2 dogs throughout my childhood years, and, as a child, I always enjoyed playing with our dogs. However, it was not until I met my husband that I became a true dog lover. His family always had dogs and after spending a lot of time with them, I realized just how much I loved being around dogs.

We got a dog as soon as we were married 22 years ago and have been dog owners ever since then. We had never gone through obedience training with any of our dogs until we got our current dog, Jake, 4 years ago. Jake was 12 weeks old when we brought him home from a shelter, and, as a puppy, he had some obedience issues that we could not resolve on our own. The trainer that helped us was excellent and in no time Jake was a well behaved dog and has even passed the Canine Good Citizen test. The training required a lot of work on our part, but I learned so much and had a lot of fun during our group training sessions.

Throughout the training with Jake, I kept thinking that this would be something I would love to do so that I could help other people train their dogs to become loving and well behaved companions. At that point, I decided to leave my office job to pursue a career in dog obedience training and I contacted Animal Behavior College to get started with my training. I learned a great deal of information from the in-depth written curriculum and I thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on externship portion of the training. During my externship, I had the opportunity to work with many different breeds of dogs at a local shelter, which allowed me to build my confidence in working with dogs. I also obtained valuable knowledge and experience that will certainly help me in the future.

The entire staff at ABC was wonderful and I especially enjoyed working with my Mentor Trainer, Wendy. I have recently graduated from ABC with honors and am currently working at a Doggie Daycare. I plan to start my own Doggie Daycare / Obedience Training business some time in the very near future. Thank you ABC!


Rebecca King

I have been an animal-lover since birth, and as a child I dreamed of earning a living related to animals. After college, I found employment related to my business major and was content to stay with the company indefinately. However, four years later I was faced with losing my position due to a company take-over. I decided it was time to follow that dream. I
enrolled in Animal Behavior College, got my business license, and began teaching training classes part-time.

One the aspects of the ABC program that impressed me is their balanced approach to training. Other schools I looked into were very biased - either completely compulsion-based methods or purely positive methods. My favorite stage of the ABC program was the hands-on training. My Mentor Trainer (Andrea) is such a talented individual. Working alongside her with the rescued dogs was an amazing experience. It was immensely gratifying to see four of the dogs I worked with be adopted and go to their new forever homes!

I plan to utilize my ABC certification by teaching group training classes full-time through my business. I finally love what I do! I always say now that "I'm going to class" because I hardly consider it "going to work". I am also looking forward to future education opportunities offered through ABC.


Julie Caswell

I moved to Greenville, South Carolina in 1995 after retiring from the U.S. Army and am originally from Nebraska. I opened Pawsitive Effects Dog Training, LLC in 2005 while attending the Animal Behavior College's Obedience Instructor Training Program. I also volunteered at the Hawaiian Humane Society for three years as an adoption counselor for adult dogs and was the shelter manager at the Greenville Humane Society for 1 year.

I have owned dogs all of my life and presently share my home with Wishbone, a 1 1/2 year old Jack Russell Terrier mix; Hershey, a 7 year old Sheltie mix; Little Bit, a 9 year old Chihuahua mix; and Bonnie, a cat. Both Hershey and Little Bit are shelter rescues.

I completed the correspondence portion of the ABC program in November 2005. Next, I spent the required 10 hours at the Anderson County Animal Shelter practicing my training techniques with the shelter dogs. I have continued to volunteer at the shelter 2 to 3 Saturdays a month working with the large adult dogs to make them more adoptable.

Then I spent 6 months training hands-on with a local, experienced clicker dog trainer. During this time, I also attended a basic and advanced agility course with Wishbone, my Jack Russell mix, which also used clicker training.

The hands-on training is where everything really came together for me, and I was very excited that my trainer was experienced with the clicker. The ABC program addressed training with the clicker, and I felt I learned even more during the hands-on portion. Although, I have previously worked with dogs and have owned them my entire life I learned a lot of new information from the ABC program and would definitely recommend it for anyone who is interested in this field.

I now offer basic obedience classes at the Anderson County Animal Shelter on Saturdays and in home training.


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