After several years of sharing a mutual dream, Suzanne Applegate, ABCDT, and her husband Neal, a retired Boeing engineer, finally found the perfect property and built KennelKamp Village, a 12,000-square-foot dog boarding and training kennel. “It has been a dream of my husband and myself for many years,” Suzanne explains. “We found the right property and our plans just started to evolve from there.” Located in Prescott Valley, Arizona, KennelKamp Village opened its doors in 2007 under the experienced wings of Suzanne, a dog trainer with 30 years of experience. Just a year before, Suzanne graduated from Animal Behavior College (ABC)’s Dog Obedience Instructor training program because, even despite her many prior years in the dog training field, “I wanted to become certified!” she exclaims.
Suzanne prides herself on her kennel’s superior features. “Our boarding facility is the only one like it in the area,” she says. “It is more like ‘home’ than any facility I have ever been in. [The dogs] all get one-on-one time with the kennel techs, they all have outdoor time, they all have play time and they all interact with each other (unless instructed otherwise) which is really the best part of their visit. The dogs love it!” She explains that what sets their facility apart is that “we are the only kennel in the area offering all indoor kennels, all types of training, day care and grooming all in one location,” she says. As the kennel’s owner as well as head trainer, Suzanne gets the exciting opportunity to encounter both her human and canine clients on a daily basis. She also gets to train regularly. “I teach basic obedience to those [owners] with new dogs, ‘beyond the basics’ and rally to those who have an interest in competing in novice, and ‘open’ to those who want to polish their skills.” When asked what her favorite class to teach is, Suzanne proclaims, “I teach a variety of classes, and all of them are my favorite while I’m teaching them!”
A dog trainer with 30-plus years of training and competition experience, Suzanne enrolled in ABC’s Dog Obedience Instructor training program in 2005 in search of certification. During the in-home study portion of the program, students are provided with over 800 pages of comprehensive dog training curriculum and are able to study and be tested on what they’ve learned in the comfort of their own homes. The ABC curriculum consists of nine stages, including a Business Building section that helps dog training entrepreneurs like Suzanne gain business knowledge to help them in kick-starting their own careers and creating their own companies. While studying, Suzanne found the ABC staff to be especially supportive and helpful. “The courses are comprehensive and the support you receive during and after is unbeatable,” she says.
After completing the in-home study portion of the program, ABC students get the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with a Mentor Trainer in their area. ABC set Suzanne up with Marc German, a Mentor Trainer in Chino Valley, Arizona. During her externship, Suzanne says, “I learned a lot about dog behavior from another perspective.” Also during the externship phase, students are asked to volunteer 10 hours of their time to a local shelter, rescue, or humane society, training the dogs there on basic obedience in hopes of helping them to become more adoptable. Suzanne admits that this was the most fun and rewarding part of her ABC education. “The training I provided to the abandoned dogs usually got immediate responses from them as they are starving for attention and love,” she explains.
Since the foundation of her business and her graduation from ABC in 2006, Suzanne has prided herself on not only her prospering kennel but also her involvement in her community. “I have helped to establish a new kennel club in our area that is very pro-active,” she says. “Last year, we conducted a Responsible Dog Ownership Day which was very successful. We hope to turn this into a yearly event.” In hopes of further educating her community about dogs and dog sports, she is organizing an event in collaboration with her local Parks & Recreation. “The event will have demonstrations in herding, agility, obedience, rally, flyball and freestyle. We will also have participation events where the public can get a feel for the sport they might be interested in learning,” she says. The event will also aid dog rescue organizations in her town and will hopefully foster more dog adoptions. “We will also have all the local adoption centers like the Humane Society, breed rescues and others present with dogs who are eligible for adoption,” she says. To further her community’s knowledge of dogs and dog ownership, “We will include educational booths about spay and neutering, vaccinations, health problems and concerns,” she explains.
As a dog trainer with an impressive résumé, years of experience, a successful business, and a vast involvement in her community, Suzanne has much to look forward to in her dog training career. However, when it comes down to it, what she finds most rewarding is the positive reaction and response she gets from each individual dog/owner team. “Any time I see a client and his/her dog finally ‘communicating’ is a great reward,” she says. “It’s that moment that the light goes on in the dog’s head and he really ‘gets it’ – he understands what the handler is trying to tell him.”
Suzanne sincerely recommends ABC to those interested in becoming dog trainers like herself, "The knowledge you gain is priceless.”
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