Welcome to Capable K9s Assistance Dogs
I offer a competitively priced assistance dog training program for people with a disability or their carers to train their own assistance dog. I specialise in positive reinforcement based training.
Capable K9’sAssistance Dogs believes in developing the bond between owners and their dog. To this end, everything I do is to inspire both you and your canine companion to grow together and learn to communicate with each other. I teach you how to teach your dog – because then your dog learns to work with you.
The Capable K9s client experience is a fully supported, client centred, training focused model driven by Monique's passion to help other people with a disability to achieve the same levels of independence and freedom her assistance dogs have given her.
All Capable K9s training lessons are one-on-one presented by via the Skype based training program Monique pioneered back in 2015. This program has been very sucessful and the fact you are able to access training from home via the internet has many benifits for peopble with a disability who may find tradional face to face training inaccessible. When you are accepted as a Capable K9s client I tailor a training program specifically to your circumstances and needs.
I am experienced in training psychiatric assistance dogs, mobility assistance dogs, and medical alert and response assistance dogs. I do not pre-train and place assistance dogs: instead, I work with clients to select and train their own (suitable) assistance dogs using a highly customised and personalised approach. I believe that every person living with disability has a unique experience of that disability and I am committed to teaching you how to train your dog to complete tasks specific to your disability and your personal circumstances. Moreover, I believe that the process of my teaching you how to train your dog fosters the critical bond between handler and assistance dog. In my view this important bonding process cannot be replicated with placement of a pre-trained dog.
From time to time Capable K9s presents online webinars. Our current webinars include: A specialised assistance dog handlers webinar aimed at assistance dog handlers who would like some advice from a handler with 10 years of experience. This webinar is a requirement for all Capable K9 Assistance Dog Teams but is open to any handler. We also present "Training Your Dog with Love": a detailed introduction to positive reinforcement dog training. In this interactive webinar I give you an overview of the core principles of R+ training and how to implement it in daily life. I will introduce you to both the science behind this training style and the aspects of the art of effective communication with your dog
Monique was born in to a home full of dogs, and her love of dogs continued through her childhood, in to her teens. In 2007 she obtained a little Italian Greyhound puppy, Luigi. Luigi was intended to become her new show dog but life didn’t work out that way for Luigi and Monique. At this time, Monique became really interested in positive reinforcement training, previously she had trained with less desirable methods that relied on force and pain, as was common place back then but she couldn’t bring herself to do that with this tiny (under 2kg) little pup, but boy he needed training! Positive reinforcement training worked so well and Luigi was very responsive to it.
In 2008 Monique discovered information about assistance dogs, she googled till late in to the night, and found out about Service Dogs in the USA, joined an American forum and learned more about the wonderful things these dogs could do for people like her. Luigi was already doing a lot of these things, not because he was trained to, but because he is a very intuitive, compassionate dog. With newfound resources on positive reinforcement training and ideas flowing through her brain of all the wonderful, amazing things she could try to teach Luigi they signed up with an assistance dog org here in Australia and their journey began. Luigi took to the training like he was born for it, and their dream of showing was set aside, he was de-sexed and became an assistance dog. Luigi is the original Capable K9. Together they learned, trained and grew. Luigi did learn many wonderful, amazing things and he continually pushed Monique to do better and be better.
In 2010 Monique pursued a formal qualification in dog training at the National Dog Trainers Federation, she was passed on a lot of reignition of prior learning for the training she could demonstrate having done with Luigi over the years. Monique also undertook an elective in assistance dog training. Around this time, Monique had begun offering training sessions and advice to other owner handlers of assistance dogs. Mostly these were people she became friendly with through the online USA-centric service dog community. Around 2010 Monique started the first online Facebook group for Australian assistance dog handlers.
By 2014 aspects of Monique’s physical disability were becoming more difficult and bless his little heart, as much as Luigi tried, at only 5.5kg there were things he just wasn’t big enough to do. He would retrieve things for her so she didn’t have to bend and he would take socks off but Monique’s back and balance was becoming so problematic that she needed a mobility aid. This is when Monique welcomed Nikolai, a Borzoi, in to her life. Luigi slowly phased in to retirement as Nikolai was trained up to become her mobility assistance dog.
In 2015 Capable K9s was founded. It started out as just a small business training pet dogs here and there, but the need for trainers with specific assistance dog training skills and genuine compassion for people with a disability became apparent and Monique added assistance dog training, assessment and accreditation to the business. Monique decided to take her experiences of having been with 2 other assistance dog orgs as a client and design her policies and procedures around what support she wished she had when first starting out. Over the last 14 years Monique has provided community education about assistance dogs, advocacy for assistance dog handlers and lobbied government in relation to matters pertaining to assistance dog handlers.
Did you know...
Did you know the dog training industry is largely unregulated? This means anybody can call themselves a dog trainer and charge for their services. It is important to check with any potential trainer that they have relevant qualifications and experience. I am a National Dog Trainers Federation Certified Dog Trainer, in addition to having 20 years of hands-on experience training dogs. It is my belief that learning and professional development is an ongoing exercise and I strive to keep up to date with the most current and scientifically proven training methods. I do not subscribe to the notion of “Dominance Theory.”
Zak George is a positive reinforcement trainer from the USA who has very successful YouTube channel and he explains the myth of Dominance Theory in this video much better than I can.
My Training Philosophy
At Capable K9’s Asistance Dogs I use positive reinforcement based training techniques. Positive reinforcement means I reward the desired behaviours and use negative punishment for undesired behaviours. Negative punishment simply means that I remove something the dog wants in order to decrease the undesired behaviour. When I talk about dog training the words “positive” and “negative” do not have an emotional connotation; they simply mean we are either adding something (positive) or removing something (negative). Some positive reinforcement based trainers call these “life consequences.” Our preferred method of punishment is a verbal correction.