Kim: Welcome to Good Dog Nation, the weekly video podcast that’s all about having a good dog. Hosted by Michelle McCarthy, CDBC, CTAC, leading therapy dog authority, and owner of Canine Homeschooling; and Kim Merritt, cofounder of GoodDogInABox.com, GoodDogPro.com, and founder of the URL Doctor. This episode is brought to you by GoodDogInABox.com, reward-based dog training and dog bite prevention products for families with kids and dogs. And GoodDogPro.com, the online content subscription and community for dog professionals with reward-based dog training products, curriculums, and online courses to educate, motivate, and positively impact those that work with dogs. And CanineHomeschooling.com remote reward based dog training, behavior consulting, and therapy dog consulting with Michelle McCarthy. Now let’s join Good Dog Nation.
Kim: Hi everyone and welcome to Good Dog Nation, the video podcast that talks about all things dog. I am Kim Merritt, co-founder of GoodDogInABox.com and GoodDogPro.com and I want to introduce today my co-host and partner in crime for all of our upcoming shows, Michelle McCarthy of CanineHomeschooling.com. Hey Michelle.
Kim: Hi Kim.
Kim: So we wanted to get together and give you a brief rundown of what Good Dog Nation is all about, what it’s going to be, and what we’re hoping to put forth to not only dog lovers and dog owners, but dog professionals. So let’s start with how we met. So this is kind of a fun story. So Michelle had been recommended to me by another reward-based dog trainer I’ve known for several years, who is a great customer and fan of all of our dog bite prevention materials over at Good Dog In A Box. We were planning dog bite prevention week and a webinar series that we did on dog bite prevention, and she suggested that Michelle would be a great guest. She had an extensive background in working with therapy dogs, and we were doing a session just on therapy and service dogs, dog bite prevention, things that are going on today around service dogs, and that’s how we originally met. Michelle came on and was an awesome guest, and we realized in our talking that we had very similar beliefs and philosophies and had a lot of things in common, and that has led us to Good Dog Nation.
Michelle: Yes, it was back maybe six months ago, I first got an email from our mutual friends saying, “Look, I know this person, she wants to include you in a webinar.” And I hadn’t done anything like that before, I’ve been videotaped a lot for different things and been on local talk shows. But this sounded really interesting, and it was talking about therapy dogs and service dogs, and all the different things going on right now. So we had a great time, and I remember at the time thinking that this would be really interesting. I was at a point with my business where I was looking to transition into doing some different things. I’ve been working for 20 years and it was a lot of fun. And Kim, we were talking afterwards about how it would be so much fun to have a show where we can just interview all dog people. Professional dog trainers, veterinarians, people invovled in dog sports, breeders, dog walkers, daycare workers, because the world of dogs expands beyond just training dogs. It’s all things dog. And I think at first we were just jokingly like, “Yeah, we’d both really love to do that.” And then we started getting really serious about it. Because you know different people than I do in the dog world, and I have people that I’ve known for years, people that I don’t know personally, but I absolutely respect the work that they’re doing. People who want what is best for dogs in all areas of life. That’s really how this came to be, and it just kind of keeps growing and it’s very exciting.
Kim: That’s a great segue for me to give a little background about how this podcast will work. So it’s a little different in the fact that it’s a video podcast, so you’ll have your choice. If you’re a visual learner, you can actually watch it. It’ll be posted on both GoodDogInABox.com and GoodDogPro.com so you can actually watch it like a webinar. Or, it will also be available on all of your favorite podcast platforms, and the audio will be posted on other websites as well. So whatever way you prefer to consume content, you’ll be able to do that with these. We’ll be coming out to you once a week, and we’ll have a rotating theme schedule. The first Tuesday of the month, we’re going to cover veterinarian health topics. Second Tuesday, reward-based dog training topics. Third Tuesday, service and therapy dog related topics Fourth Tuesday, dog breeding and puppies. And then when we have a fifth Tuesday of the month, we’re going to cover my favorite topic, kind of my core interests, dog bite prevention and dog safety. Not only for children, but for adults the world at large. It’s an hour-long show, the first 30 minutes is FREE, and is geared toward the general public, the dog lover of the dog owner or somebody who is maybe thinking about getting a dog or puppy, or maybe they’re interested in service dog or therapy dog work. It will be available on all platforms, and we’ll be sharing it on all of our social media as well. The second 30 minutes is geared towards professional dog trainers, pet sitters, dog walkers, groomers, vets, humane educators, anybody that deals with dogs as their profession. That second 30 minutes will be available to subscribers of Good Dog Pro, you can find out more about that on GoodDogPro.com. But let’s take a minute, Michelle, and talk about our credentials. Tell us about your training, your certifications, and all the years of experience that you have.
Michelle: Sure. So I’ve lived with dogs since I was a kid, and it never really occurred to me when I was younger that I could have a career doing what I love. And I have three kids, who are now grown, but when they were all headed off to school I had been a stay at home mom with them. And I thought, “What am I going to do? I have all this time!” So I started shadowing a trainer. We had gotten our first family dog years beforehand, it was an interesting process. I was a correction based trainer at the time, I didn’t really know any different. I mean, start training, right? But even then I was so uncomfortable with how this person wanted us to train our dog, that it motivated me to go and work with someone else and find out. I thought there had to be a better way to do this. And I was very fortunate to become connected with a gentleman who had been training for a while. He trained therapy dogs, he trained just family and companion dogs, and that really kind of launched it for me. I decided after about a year of shadowing him that I wanted to pursue a career working with dogs, but I didn’t want to be what I think of as a “backyard hack” trainer. I love dogs, I’ve always had dogs, so I’m going to call myself a dog trainer. I thought, if I’m going to do this, I want to do it right. I want to be a professional trainer. So I started pursuing lots of things, 20 some years ago, we didn’t have a lot of the wonderful dog training programs that we do today. Back then you had to find someone who was willing to work with you, which wasn’t always easy because there’s just a lot of territorial stuff with people training. But I found the IAABC, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and they had a great program. It was very structured, it definitely allowed me to work at the pace that I needed to. I was really fortunate to network with a couple of wonderful trainers that didn’t live near me, but they were communicating with me. I was still shadowing this other person and I started pursuing the long process of becoming a certified behavior consultant. It took me almost five years because there are a lot of requirements. Working hours, consulting hours, teaching hours, case studies, it wasn’t just taking a six week program online. It was a long process. And during that time I had started just teaching basic obedience classes and raising dogs of my own. In the midst of all this, I was very interested in therapy dogs for personal reasons. I have a family member that greatly benefited from just our pet dogs. So I got involved in therapy dog work. As the years went on, I completed my certification as a behavior consultant, I then completed certification as a certified therapy animal consultant, and I was now working with my own dog as my partner. My first dog was Leo, a black lab. I then started getting involved in developing programming for therapy dogs at the hospital, nursing homes, school library. It seemed like I would walk in somewhere just to hang out, and next thing I know I’m building the program for them and sometimes I didn’t even know how it happened.
Kim: How does any of this stuff happen?
Michelle: But it was wonderful experience and it just kind of kept evolving. And of course, ongoing seminars and training. Those of us that work with dogs know that there’s always something new to learn. It’s always changing. Dogs are all different, I’ve had 29 Labradors throughout my career, I’ve had a Newfoundland, every single dog was different. And that’s the fun of training dogs. So throughout my career I’ve specialized in therapy dogs, but I do behavior consultations as well. I work with a lot of complex behavior problems, I love working with puppies, I’ve specialized puppy programs. My slogan on my website is “preparing your dog for family life” because whether you have a pet dog, a sporting dog, a show dog, or therapy dog, they’re truly a part of your family first. My hope when I help people and work with them is to really help integrate your dog into your family because you adopted them to be a part of your family, to enjoy them and have fun with them. And it’s through training and really understanding dogs that we can achieve that and really love and enjoy our dogs.
Kim: And that’s really what we want to get across with this show is that love of dogs. We want to share all the wonderful information about what different people in different backgrounds all over the world are doing. We’ve got some awesome guests lined up even just in the very first couple of episodes that will really blow your mind. These people are highly qualified with dog-heavy backgrounds. I, myself, am not a professional dog trainer, I’m a serial entrepreneur. I started my first company when I was 11 years old, I had a candy company, Apple Computers was our largest client. I Went on to run an eCommerce company, and then an online marketing company called the URL Doctor. My current company, Good Dog In A Box, which I started with my sister who is a professional dog trainer, was formed to address dog bite prevention, particularly in children. Everything has grown from there. So I’m very excited to team up with you and be able to bring some of these awesome topics to the world at large, because I think there’s lots of fantastic things out there to share, and we’ll see you soon.
Michelle: Looking forward to it.
Kim: Thanks. Bye.
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