We have been online helping people with disabilities to learn training techniques that build strong trusting relationships with their service dogs in training since 2015. Our free assistance dogs videos and blog date back to 2008. Dogs selected as service dogs are emotional 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 and teach handlers to be able to read and respond appropriately to their dog's communication. 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, Online and In-person Instructor - Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed.
A forerunner in the dog training field, Donna stays at the cutting edge of training, teaching and presentation skills. She was offering online dog training when others were skeptical of it's effectiveness. She is known for her high quality ethical training for both people and dogs.
A Heritage Interpreter for 15 years before switching to training people with dogs, she taught people about ecology and observing nature, and has been a nationally certified Heritage Interpreter since 2005. She was the evaluator of National Occupational Standards for Heritage Interpreters for emerit.ca for several years. She led "Train the Trainer" workshops on behalf of many government and non-profit educational organizations and consulted for them creating curriculum and writing "How to" manuals for teachers. Between 1994-2001, she used HTML (computer language) to create and maintain a website designed to use games to help teachers and parents teach their children about nature.
She began training her own dogs at 8 years of age using kind training methods. After attending classes, she rejected the idea that punishment is needed to effectively train dogs to a high level. She has broad hands-on experience with dogs in shelters, kennels, dog daycare, groomers, has fostered dogs, helped raise litters, and trained and titled in dog sports (flyball, agility and rally). She published a dog training audio book and 2 DVD's as well as 2 dog training Youtube channels.
In addition to a Zoology degree in animal behavior and a teaching degree, she has been a behavioral interventionist for children and teens with autism and other developmental disabilities. In 2005, she began offering workshops to teach adults and dog trainers about the natural behavior of dogs. In 2008, she started helping people with disabilities to train their own service dogs, long before it was commonly done. Since then, she has helped hundreds of service dog and assistance dog teams to work successfully at the public access level (including students who have been successfully certified through the British Columbia Guide Dog and Service Dog Assessment Test.)
Donna is skilled at sharing information in a meaningful way and breaking down the theory and training into small easy-to-do pieces for human and dog alike! She believes that dogs are partners in life and shares approaches that are fair, ethical and emotionally intelligent.
She stays current by taking classes by world class researchers and animal trainers.
Most recent continuing education:
The Virtual Dog Training Conference 2021 (presented and attended)
Clicker Expo Live 2021
IAABC & FDSA Lemonade Conference May 2020
For owner-trainers to professional dog trainers, Donna is available for web consults on service dog tasks and related behavior issues.
Scroll to the bottom of the 1 to 1 web cam page to book an hour session with her!
In-Person and Online Instructor - Jenn Hauta
Jenn Hauta joined Service Dog Training Institute in 2017 as an in-person instructor for classes in Nanaimo, BC and online coaching.
Jenn has a great skill at breaking behaviors into the smallest bits so the learner can learn quickly and painlessly, be they canine or human learners! Jenn is compassionate to people and dogs alike. She is great at finding analogies that the human students can understand and relate to. Her passion for animals led her to start professionally pet sitting in 1995.
Jenn worked at an animal shelter for 5 years, which gave her the opportunity to work with a variety of dogs and cats with a multitude of training and behaviour needs.
In 2010, Jenn watched a trainer using a clicker to train her dog. This trainer was Donna, and she inspired Jenn to pursue learning as much as she can about humane, reward based, science-backed training and dog behaviour.
Jenn is dedicated to ongoing education to better help her clients, and has completed courses such as the Trainer Foundation Course through Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior, and a nine day intensive Chicken Camp Course taught by Terry Ryan (learning to train chickens makes for better dog trainers!).
Jenn is the first Fear Free Certified Professional, and licensed Family Paws Parent Education presenter on Vancouver Island. She is also a Puppy Start Right Instructor and has taken the Trainer Foundation course through the Karen Pryor Academy. She uses the Humane Hierarchy to guide training and behaviour modification decisions.
Jenn is also very proud to be a professional member of Vancouver Island Animal Training Association and the owner and head trainer of Fairy Dogmother Training & Pet Care where she specializes in dealing with human reactive and dog reactive dogs.
Jenn also attended University of Ottawa for an immersion program and Vancouver Island University in the Liberal Arts program.
Computer Support - Bruce Angus B.Sc.
Bruce is our 'go to guy' for anything involving the website and technology for SDT Institute.
He has trained and competed in canine sports and has earned a number of masters-level agility titles. He is a retired healthcare professional with training in counselling, public presentation, and adult education. 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. This will lead to healing.