Trainer’s Spotlight – Debbie Thomas, CPDT-KA, IAABC- ADT

Debbie Thomas, CPDT-KA, IAABC- ADT
Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer and Hersenwerk Enrichment Mentor

Which classes do you lead at Animal Friends?
Adult and Puppy Manners classes. I’m very excited to be offering a new course for shy dogs called Bashful Buddies. In this class, we will be helping build confidence in fearful and nervous dogs.

How long have you been with Animal Friends?
I have been a volunteer for over 12 years and have been involved in many areas throughout the organization. I have collaborated with Suzanne Denk who is the Animal Enrichment Specialist, to develop enrichment trails and activities for the resident dogs. I’ve taught handling classes for volunteers in the Open Paw Program and I have also been a member of the Dog Behavior team for five years. I have a special fondness for working with dogs who are fearful to help them build trust and confidence.

What is your favorite part of teaching at Animal Friends?
I love seeing how owners and their dogs build a stronger relationship by working together and becoming a team. I feel it is essential to look at the animal as a whole and not just treat one behavior. You need to understand why that behavior is occurring. The relationship between a dog and their owner is also an important factor in what types of training or enrichment are necessary for their team. Treating people and dogs with respect and kindness is the core of what I believe in. It is also very rewarding to see Animal Friends’ alumni attend classes.

In your spare time, what activities do you enjoy doing with your own dog?
You might be surprised to learn that I currently do not have any dogs at home. I am devoting a lot of my time to my private training clients. I treat each dog that I train as my own, so I guess you could say  I have 20 dogs right now!


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