Have you read our introduction to the At Your Service mentorship program? Ready to learn more? This is the place! (If not, please read “Intern with AYS – Professional Dog Training Mentoring” and then return here.)
NOTE: We have added a distance learning/online internship option! Interns may observe multiple online lessons, classes, and consultations per week. Weekly “office hours” are available to interns every Friday evening to discuss the lessons and consults they have observed and to learn from the questions of other interns, too. For more information on the online internship structure, please email us.
The intern will accompany the trainer to classes, lessons, and consults one day a week. Typically, we will choose a set day of the week. If the mentor or intern need to change the day due to scheduling or other issues, that can usually be accommodated.
Observation is a key component of learning about dog training. Much of what occurs with animals — and people! — cannot be learned through a book but must be observed in real-time and practiced. Listening and observing and digesting what you observe in trainer/client interactions is an indispensable part of the internship that cannot be learned any other way. This is why there is a practical component for the homework, too.
Time in the car or the training space before and after lessons and consults allows for the student to ask questions, discuss the previous consult/class, etc. While the mentor may answer some questions by email or briefly go over homework online, the majority of discussion of assignments will be discussed during the weekly mentorship day.
Mentors do their best to make observation days as educationally relevant as possible. However, interns should be aware that, as part of running a training business, some time between appointments will also be used for mundane aspects of running a small business, including the trainer getting gas, eating lunch, returning client phone calls, etc. Interns are encouraged to bring something to occupy them during (usually short) periods of downtime. Bringing your homework or reading is a great idea!
Each module includes several reading (or sometimes viewing) assignments, along with written homework and practical homework. All written and practical assignments must be completed in each module before proceeding to the next module. Likewise, before proceeding to the second term, all material from the first term must be satisfactorily completed. There is no time limit. Interns are encouraged to go at the pace that works best for them.
Homework will be reviewed and discussed on mentorship days. There is no grading (unless partnering with a college/university*).
The purpose of the homework is to ensure that the student has read and understood the material and to provide an opportunity for future discussion of the material with the mentor. While your mentor hopes you will do your best on your assignments, the purpose of written homework and other assignments is NOT to get everything “right”! In fact, in many cases, there are many right answers, and there is usually a lot of gray area, too. The homework is a great jumping-off point for interesting discussion for mentor and intern alike!
Reading/viewing is assigned to be read/watched consecutively. Please work through the material in the order it is presented — first module 1, then module 2, etc. There are study questions (homework) for each module that must be completed before you move on to the next module.
Even within the module, material is presented in a particular order. It is strongly recommended that interns read the material in the order it is presented. However, it is a good idea to look over the assignments for the module at the beginning so that you can take notes and work on the written and practical assignments as you progress.
*College credit note: At Your Service is not affiliated with a university or college, therefore currently there is no college credit available. However, at Your Service is willing to work with interns’ institutions of higher learning to set up course credit as an independent study. If this is something that interests you, please speak to someone at your school. Course credit is most likely to be arranged through the psychology, animal husbandry, or other related department.
Topics of Study
The material covered in the first term of the internship follows these modules:
Module 1 – Learning Theory
- The four quadrants
- Understanding classical and operant conditioning
- Understanding reinforcement, including Premack’s Principle
- Methods for training behaviors
Module 2 – Canine Body Language, Ethology, and Emotion
- Observation and interpretation of dog body language
- Canine “evolution” or artificial selection/breeding and ethology
- Basics on the biology/neurology of canine learning and emotions
Module 3 – Dog-Owner Relationship
- Prevention, management, and equipment
- The human-animal bond
- Lifestyle and other cohabitation issues
- Repairing damaged relationships between people and their dogs
Module 4 – Teaching People and Working with Clients
- Building rapport
- Providing clear instruction
- Empathy and working with strong emotions
- Creating agreement and understanding
Mentorship Program Requirements
Interns will need ongoing access to the following equipment during the course of your internship. This is equipment that you, the intern, must provide:
- A paper notebook and pen/pencil
- One or more dogs for you to train for practical portions of the curriculum — these may be your dogs, dogs that you “borrow” from family and friends, or dogs that you work with in a shelter, clinic, daycare or other environment
- Reliable access to the internet that allows you to send and receive emails, watch videos, and use Facebook
- A device to take, save, and upload videos, such as a smart phone, iPad, GoPro, or other video recording device
You will also need the following items — which your AYS mentor can provide to you — or you may choose to obtain them on your own:
- Assigned books and videos — you may borrow materials from the AYS Library (up to two at-a-time) or you may buy them or borrow them from your local public or school library. (CWMars interlibrary loan has many, but not all of the titles.)
- At Your Service logo T-shirt and jacket or sweatshirt to wear on observation or assisting days. You receive one T-shirt and one sweatshirt as part of your mentorship program. If you would like additional shirts, you may purchase them from us or our printer.
Interns are expected to adhere to the following rules. Failure to adhere to these rules may result in interns being released from the program:
- Appearance: Interns must be dressed appropriately for the weather in relatively clean, neat attire (no obvious rips or stains), that is comfortable and easy to move in. A minimal amount of dog hair on an intern’s clothes at the start of the day is OK, but it should not covered in hair. They will wear closed-toed shoes (no sandals or flip-flops, etc.), long pants (no skirts or shorts), and their At Your Service logo shirt. Interns should not wear dangling jewelry or trailing scarves, etc. Long hair is usually best pulled into a bun or ponytail.
- Responsibility for personal needs: Observation days may be short or long, based on the extremely variable schedule. They may be one lesson or multiple lessons, consults, and classes that take 8 or 10 hours. It is up to the intern to prepare for long days and schedule, as needed. We will generally not have time to stop for food, so you should pack meals or snacks to eat in the car, medication, drinks, or whatever else you need. Likewise, we do not generally use clients’ bathrooms unless it is an emergency. We will occasionally stop between appointments to use a public restroom or get gas or buy a drink, etc. Please make use of these stops so client time flows smoothly. We recommend interns wear layers so that they can adjust to differences in temperature between car, clients’ homes, outdoor lessons, etc.
- Observational attitude: The intern’s role during observation time is to watch, listen, make notes about anything they want to discuss later or use for homework, etc. Interns are expected to bring a notebook to lessons to jot questions for later. Interns should aim to be a pleasant but inconspicuous presence during client interactions. Interns should not interrupt, correct, give advice, or ask questions during work with clients, but should hold these questions to ask their mentor afterward. If an intern is eager to share expertise with a client in an area that their trainer does not have (e.g., veterinary medicine, mental health counseling, occupational therapy, horse husbandry, etc.), the intern is welcomed to share that with their mentor after the lesson/consult so that the mentor may pass it on to clients in follow-up communication. An exception may be made during day school lessons when clients are not present; usually it is fine to ask questions in the moment when training with no client present. Interns will not train or interact with client dogs unless instructed.
- Courtesy to clients: Interns should be a polite and pleasant listening presence. They should aim for an easy-going, relaxed, professional attitude. This includes smiling and saying hello, goodbye, or thank you at the beginning and end of lessons, etc. They should do their best to refrain from rolling their eyes, shaking their head, or doing anything else that clients might interpret as disapproval, judgment, etc. They will leave cell phones or other devices in the car or turn them off during client appointments or classes. Notes must be taken with paper and pen. Note: Part of courtesy to clients is to keep client information confidential. Do not reveal personal information about clients to people outside the company. More about this is in your internship contract.
- Following instructions: Interns should do their best to follow instructions about how to interact with client dogs, including where to sit or stand, whether or how to greet, etc. This is particularly important for aggressive, reactive, or fearful dogs and service dogs, however it is good practice with all dogs.
- Accommodation note: At Your Service is committed to inclusivity. If an intern’s disability or religion, or another concern requires a change in any of the policies listed above, please let your mentor know so that your needs may be accommodated.
- The 2021 cost for the course is $200 per month. A bartering option is also available where interns assist with 3 hours of office work or other “behind-the-scenes” work every week instead of paying the course fee. Work may include tasks such as filing, dog care for resident or boarding dogs, data entry, etc. We also have two internships per year available to people of color through the Marlena Willis scholarships.
- Interns will either pay by cash or check to “At Your Service” once a month on the first observation day of the month or may request an online credit card invoicing system that will automatically charge their card on a set day every month.
- Observation days will generally start at a pre-arranged meeting time and location (usually at the home of the trainer/mentor) where the intern will leave their car. The intern will ride in the mentor’s car and observe lessons and consults. Time in the car between lessons allows for discussion of what took place with clients while it is still fresh. If interns prefer to drive themselves to observe the mentor at lessons, that can usually be accommodated if planned ahead.
- Interns will get the schedule for that week’s observation day on the Monday of that week, including the time and place for departure and estimated time of return. Please be aware that the schedule may often changes due to cancellations, weather, etc. If the schedule changes, interns will be informed as soon as possible. Interns should arrive on time at the beginning of the day.
- Interns may have the option of serving as classroom assistants for group classes as part of their mentorship experience. Interns who assist with classes will receive a deduction on their course tuition at the rate of $15 per class. e.g., an intern who assists two classes one night a week for four weeks, including time for clean-up and set-up may deduct tuition for the following month. Interns who wish to assist group classes must read and agree to the Assistant “to do list“
- If there are no group classes or if there is already an assistant assigned to classes, depending on the situation, other barter arrangements may be made to defray the cost of the mentorship. Please ask us about this if you’re interested.
- Written assignments should be emailed as a .docx attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Video assignments should be posted on youtube and the link emailed to the mentor
- Interns are required to fill out an application and contract at the start of their course
- Contact your mentor with questions
Ready to begin?
Read the mentorship curriculum.