We help people with disabilities to learn training techniques that build strong trusting relationships with their service dogs in training. Dogs selected as service dogs are sensitive, intelligent beings who are assisting their humans to live a fulfilled life. As sensitive animals, we want to cultivate learning as a positive, motivating experience, not one where avoidance of corrections adds to an already difficult job. We use positive, ethical training approaches with both human and dog. In our philosophy, the human partner is responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of their service dogs and provides the training structure and environment that sets up their dogs for success. In return, the dog learns to function as a willing and eager partner to assist his or her human at home, in public access situations and life.
"Building owner trained service dog teams with trust and confidence to navigate life together."
SDTI Founder - Donna Hill
After a lifetime of dogs of a variety of breeds and mixes, Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed. began learning how to train dogs in earnest when Jessie (the black and tan dog pictured here) was a pup. She discovered how easy and effective clicker training was to teach new behaviors. She saw the potential for using it to help people train their own service dogs and started her first Youtube channel of 'how to' videos.
She expanded that to a second Youtube channel for training everything else as she ran into issues with her fearful dog and when doing other sports and tricks.
Then, she realized the inaccessiblity of information about dog body language, she started her Facebook Observation Skills for Training Dogs group (now moderator by other people).
In her online and in-person teaching, Donna has the ability to break training into small enough steps that both handler and trainer can succeed. In her own videos, she highlights the mistakes she made so that others can learn from them. She teaches them what to do, rather than what not to do. She is creative and comes up with a variety of different ways to teach the same behavior (all of them positive) as well as use commonly available materials to teach behaviors.
Donna is knowledgeable about the "public access test" PAT equivalent in British Columbia: "Guide Dog and Service Dog Assessment Test" for owner-trainers and dogs coming in from out of the province. Passing this test and receiving the BC Ministry of Justice laminated card is strongly recommended for owner-trainers in BC.
Donna has taught small children to seniors, able-bodied to physically disabled, and those with autism, emotional disabilities, hearing impairments and other special needs. She has developed training manuals for naturalists and teachers and taught in-person workshops across Western Canada. As a former facilitator for nature and history education organizations, she practices what she preaches. In 2016, Donna won "Hero to the Animals Award" by Smart Dog Training Systems for her support of service dogs for people with disabilities.
As a Fenzi Dog Sports Academy instructor, Donna realized the potential to reach out at a more personal level to even more people with online training. Her goal is to build an online community of people who are training their own service dogs to improve their lives. So here we are!
Donna is a professional member of International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), co-founding professional member of Vancouver Island Animal Training Association, founder and volunteer of Vancouver Island Assistance Dogs and a supporting member of International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) (working animal division).
Donna holds a science degree in zoology (focus on animal behavior) and a teaching degree from University of British Columbia and is nationally certified as a Heritage Interpreter (using informal fun teaching approaches for history and nature topics). She believes learning should be fun and easy an is a lifelong learner herself! She has extensive experience in curriculum development, and has developed and taught classes at school district and college level. Donna enjoys 'talking dog' with everyone, and getting out in nature with her husband and two dogs on Vancouver Island in BC Canada.
Computer Support - Bruce Angus
Bruce has trained and competed in canine sports. He has earned a number of masters-level agility titles. He is a healthcare professional with training in counseling, public presentation, and adult education. He is the technology-go-to person at the office. Bruce has a unique interest in dogs and working with people. Through his professional work and involvement with dog training, he feels it is very important for owners to understand the emotional needs of both their canine companions and themselves.