I have always owned and loved dogs. Many years ago, I unwittingly acquired a very aggressive Golden Retriever puppy. Through trial, error and the help of some amazing mentors, I was able to turn this pushy, anxious little fiend into a confident, relaxed show and obedience trial dog. I became immediately hooked on training, and have been pursuing this passion full-time since 2004.
Over the next ten or so years most of my time with dogs was spent as a hobby. I trialed and showed my own dogs and worked as an assistant trainer. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the best groomers, trainers, and handlers in the area and I gleaned everything I could along the way.
I soon began to show, train and groom dogs full time. The more I learned the more I wanted to learn. I also wanted to return to my first love of training: behavior modification.
I wanted a formal, long term, hands on education in behavior and training and I moved to San Diego to attend the Pro-Train Institute’s two year apprenticeship program. Between my previous experience, Mark Castillero’s no-nonsense, behavioral approach to training (both dogs and people), and my tenacity for learning, I advanced quickly. Within a year of arriving, I was Pro-Train’s head trainer, managing the training kennels and assisting in teaching the students. I loved working with and learning from Mark, and was honoured when he asked me to stay and work for him when my apprenticeship finished.
At Pro-Train I learned to train all the basics, as well as to select and train personal protection dogs and service dogs for people with disabilities (including those with multiple disabilities). We also performed a lot of behavior modification, where I learned never to give up on any dog. We had dogs shipped to us from all over the United States that had been deemed ‘too aggressive for rehabilitation’ by other trainers. After we had them for a few weeks, we would give them back to their owners. They became relaxed and manageable, and we gave the owners the tools to maintain the training and behavior.
During my time in the USA, I also had many opportunities to work with and assist Sonny Henegar of 10-8k-9. Sonny is a multifaceted trainer who specializes in police and other working dogs. Pro-Train provides Sonny with agitators and assists with maintenance training for his K-9s in the San Diego area. By the time I left San Diego I was very comfortable catching police dogs, instructing the officers on how to handle their dogs during bites and searches, and assessing a dog’s suitability for a working career based on its drive and stability.
I trained hundreds of dogs in the five years I spent in San Diego with Pro-Train. I am now residing in Edmonton, Alberta working as a full time trainer, and I am confident that I can help you no matter what your interest or challenge is. I continue to attend seminars, as well as work with other trainers to keep my knowledge up to date and my training innovative.
Please don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of service to you! You can also use the contact page by clicking here.
Caroline Hilliard, Owner and Proprietor of Steadfast Dogs