I recently asked a young lady in Grade 4 what she would like to do when she grew up. “I’m going to work with animals,” she said confidently. “What will you do?” I asked. To which she replied, clearly unimpressed with my comprehension or possibly lack of hearing: “WORK WITH ANIMALS!”.
I wasn’t about to tell her that there are a gazillion different jobs that involve this, so I changed the subject. However, it did get me thinking about the number of different jobs that a person can do with animals and more specifically with dogs, both on a volunteer and a professional basis. With that in mind, I set out to learn from a few people in the field of Jobs with Dogs just what was involved. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of their thoughts on this page.
Dog Trainer: Megan Stanley Founder & President, Dogma Training. CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, FFCP (Trainer)
“….. when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” from The Alchemist, a novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. These words resonate with Megan Stanley, the Founder and President of Dogma Training who says this is her favourite book. Having got to know Megan, I would say that lots of hard work and dedication on her part have played a huge part in getting her where she is today.
I asked Megan to tell me about her work with dogs and dog training and how she got started.
“I have been doing this for about 20 years. I have always loved animals but thought being a vet was my only real option for a career. While working in software/web development, I began volunteering with a local shelter and it started my path towards becoming a professional dog trainer. There are unfortunately no requirements for someone to call themselves a dog trainer. However, this is something I’d like to see change and I take our qualifications seriously.”
Megan’s first course was CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed) which she earned by demonstrating that she had the knowledge and experience to train dogs. Since then, she has continued to expand her learning and designations, serving on the Board of The Association of Professional Dog Trainers 2014-2019 and as a member is currently Vice-Chair of CAPDT (Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers). Keeping up-to-date with current trends, developing continuity in standards and research comes from belonging to national and international organizations “I am a member of Fear Free Pets.” said Megan, “I find it discouraging that we are still battling the use of aversive tools and punishment in training dogs. It’s very hard to see what too many dogs are subjected to and this is a difficult part of the job.” The mission of Fear Free®, is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety & stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. https://fearfreepets.com
“It is so rewarding to watch a dog build confidence and attentiveness so they can live their best life.”.
Megan is a supporting member of IAABC (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants). https://m.iaabc.org The goals of IAABC are to standardize and support the practice of animal behavior consulting, to provide quality, evidence-based education and peer and supervising mentoring, and to provide resources for pet owners needing advice. They also provide networking and educational opportunities for members through on-line discussion groups, videos and conferences, as well as significant discounts to our world-class educational courses and mentorships.
In 2006, Megan opened the first of her facilities for Dogma Training. She focuses on the strategy and business development of Dogma Training which consists of two dog training facilities that offer day school, group classes, and private training. They also run Dogma Academy that provides 24/7 quality dog training to dog owners through our online membership programs, plus a dog trainer school that includes three levels of certification. I oversee all areas of the business and a team of about 20. “The opening of each location was very exciting”, she said, “and the launch of our dog trainer apprenticeship program was as well”.
All the hard work paid off, when in 2017, they were finalists for Calgary Small Business of the Year award.
I asked Megan if she had any advice for someone who was thinking about becoming a dog trainer.
“Start it now! Dog training is an easy job to get your feet wet and still maintain another career while you build yours as a professional dog trainer. There is so much you can do as a dog trainer. Start your learning and get experience with your dogs, or with dog organizations, now. I truly believe that life is too short to not be doing what you love so I encourage anyone who has a passion for dogs to follow that path. There is so much you can do for dogs, including volunteer work. All you need to do is start.”