Samantha Milner Bsc (Hons) PGDIP KPA-CTP 

ABTC Registered Animal Training Instructor

I have an unusual story. Most Dog Trainers, have owned dogs their whole lives and have fond memories of their childhood dog. I wasn't lucky enough to grow up with dogs and it wasn't until I met my partner who did have the luxury of having 3 beautiful dogs in the family home that I realised what I had missed out on.

So until then, I actually trained in Psychology and worked on behavioural and cognitive change with people. I spent time in several areas including; substance misuse, eating disorders and anxiety disorders (Phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety, Health Anxiety, Body Dysmorphia, Social Anxiety & Panic Disorder) and Depression.

When we decided we would get a dog, I started devouring training classes and books. I already knew the psychology of how dogs learn because it is the same as us! So for me the joy was learning new methods of communicating the information to an animal learner that I would have just verbally given to a human learner. This is when I fell in love with clicker training. This is a beautifully simple but powerful way of communicating with our animals and getting the behaviours we want in a fun and rewarding way for handler and dog! I have become so hooked on it that I even now cross back over to the human work using a clicker and it works really well. In teaching humans it is called TAGteach and works on the same principles. It has helped me to teach my toddler to overcome her fear of the doctors and to cooperate with medical exams and teeth cleaning and even how to pet the dog and potty train.

I had such a great time training my dog that I started volunteering with search and rescue dogs and other trainers in classes to see how they worked. I was so hooked I decided to get another dog - a rescue. This turned out to be a very stressful experience. It turned out that this dog was aggressive towards other dogs outside of the home and so I asked for help from trainers. Not realising at the time, as many owners don't, that behaviourist is not a protected title (which means anyone can call themselves a behaviourist) I spent a lot of time and money on the wrong people trying to find the right techniques to help my dog. I eventually ended up reading the science and going to the seminars from leaders in the field myself to find the answers. So here was the revelation that again, the treatment protocols for treating humans overlap hugely with dogs. The tools to communicate are slightly different and of course the work with dogs is heavily on the behavioural side but the principles are the same. So over the past 10 years I have gone to a huge amount of seminars on behavioural topics and am now working on my Msc in Clinical Animal Behaviour to build on what I know from my work with humans to help dogs.

Not to be lost amongst this story is my love for helping people. The combination of enjoying helping people and dogs lead me to a career change about 5 years ago and I now work in the Service Dog industry. I now work for one of the biggest and well known service dog organisations in the UK. I have also worked with Service Dogs UK who do amazing work rescuing dogs from shelters and helping veterans to train up their own PTSD assistance dogs.

The final part of my story ends where it started...with family. Through my own life journey with my 2 dogs, babies and toddlers have arrived in the home with all of the huge changes they bring. This was a learning curve for me. Even as a dog trainer, I did not fully appreciate the amount of things my dogs were going to need support with or the amount of management and preparation that would be needed until it was happening to me. I suddenly found myself in discussions with other mums in baby/toddler groups discussing issues they had with their dogs around the children and heard their frustration. They consulted the childcare professionals and they said 'train your dog', they consulted the dog trainers and they said 'train your children'. The reality is we need to do a bit of both and parents need support to do this. That's when I decided to specialise in this area and began to offer the dogs & storks, dogs & toddlers and family fundamentals services, so that other parents have somewhere to go for advice that combines knowledge of Dog Training & Child Development. My psychology background makes me perfectly placed to help bring these two areas together and I am very excited to be able to offer these new services for 2019!

That's it. A long story, but in my experience people like to know the person behind the business. So this is me. Welcome to the Parenting Paws site and I hope you find it helpful. 

Qualifications & Affiliations:

  • Bsc(Hons) Psychology
  • PGDIP Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional (Certified Training Partner)
  • Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) Registered Animal Training Instructor
  • Licensed Family Paws Parent Educator 
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind - Guide Dog Trainer Qualification
  • TAGteach level 1 trainer
  • Proud Member of the Pet Professional Guild of the British Isles
  • Msc Clinical Animal Behaviour - University of Edinburgh (in progress)

Continued Professional Development (over the past 12 months):

- Clicker expo 2019
- Family paws Parent Educator Course
- Karen Pryor Academy Puppy Start Right Instructors Course
- Leslie McDevitt Control Unleashed Workshop
- Laura Monaco-Torrelli & Linda Ryan Husbandry opportunities are all around us

Me and Mischief 

A happy family, including May (the chocolate one) after managing to make a few doggie pals

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