I began my dog training career when I decided to get my son, who has autism, a service dog to help him. I started my journey training a yellow lab named Kaylee. She taught me a lot - like how much I needed someone else to help me learn how to train dogs! LOL
I found a trainer who would help me train her to help my son. During the training process with Kaylee, I realized how much dogs and children with autism have in common. Here are just a few of the similarities I noticed:
1) Dogs do not use verbal language. Some children with autism are also non-verbal.
(My son is verbal, but I also worked with some children who were non-verbal)
2) Dogs, like children with autism, see things in black and white. (Either I can, or I can't.
There is no maybe or sometimes)
3) Dogs and children with autism have a hard time generalizing skills to new locations.
4) Neither dogs nor children with autism will socialize themselves. They both need our
help to make friends and learn how to interact with their world.
5) When teaching dogs and children with autism, there has to be consistency and lots
6) Behavior is communication in both dogs and children with autism.
Once I realized these things, it was very easy for me to begin understanding how dogs
learn and how to work with them to help both the dog and the human. And there I was,
ready to enter the world of being a dog trainer!
I continue to learn more about working with dogs and people to help both live together harmoniously. There is always something new to learn! I love working with dogs and other species to gain the knowledge and understanding I need to be successful at helping them and their humans.
My son and his service dog, Carmella