Susan McKeon BSc (Hons), MAPDT (01157)
Happy Hounds Dog Training is owned and run by professional dog trainer and behaviourist: Susan McKeon. That’s me in the photo, with Ava (my rescue greyhound),
I’m a qualified dog trainer and behaviour counsellor, who loves all dogs and I have a huge soft spot for sighthounds (particularly Greyhounds and Salukis). I’ve worked with several national sighthound charities – The Greyhound Trust, and Forever Hounds Trust (formerly, Greyhound Rescue West of England) – plus a local greyhound charity; volunteered as a dog walker for a local dog rescue; and worked within a kennel environment; as well as running dog training classes and undertaking numerous training and behaviour one to ones.
Working with rescue charities
Currently, I work full time for Dogs Trust as a Clinical Animal Behaviourist. This means I am unable to take on new behaviour cases, due to time constraints. Prior to joining Dogs Trust, I was the Behaviour & Welfare Manager for Forever Hounds Trust – a national charity which is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of unwanted, abused or abandoned greyhounds and lurchers.
Qualifications – what do all those letters after my name mean?
You will often see a vast array of letters after dog trainers’ names. For example: I am Susan McKeon, BSc (Hons), MAPDT (01157) …but what do these really mean?
The dog training industry in the UK is completely unregulated and anyone can claim to be a dog trainer or behaviourist. There are a number of different qualifications and memberships available, but all are not equal. You wouldn’t expect a doctor to treat you if they were not qualified, or a pilot to fly a plane without qualifications and experience and, in my opinion, the same is true of dog training. Just because an individual has lived with dogs all their life, it does not make them a dog trainer or behaviourist; I worked for an airline, flew (as a passenger) numerous times and even ‘flew’ a plane thanks to a flight simulator – however, that does not make me a pilot!
I have completed a Bachelor of Science degree, with honours, in canine behaviour and training, which allows me to use BSc (Hons) after my name. This degree covered both the theory and practical application of dog training and behaviour. My dissertation focused on impulsivity in racing greyhounds, and involved lots of data collection from owners of retired racing greyhounds from across the world.
APDT, UK – Association of Pet Dog Trainers
To be able to use MAPDT – which denotes my membership of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, UK – I had to undertake rigorous independent assessments before I could become a member. These assessments included: a written assignment, planning and teaching a class (observed & marked by assessors) of dogs I had never met before and an oral assessment. Only once had I passed all these assignments, could I join the APDT and use the letters MAPDT followed by my membership number (01157).
APBC – Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors
I am also a provisional member* of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC). The APBC represents a network of behaviour counsellors that have achieved the highest proven academic and practical standards available in the field of companion animal behaviour therapy. APBC members abide by a strict code of conduct and continually develop their professional knowledge so that clients and the veterinary surgeons who refer them can be assured they receive the latest expert advice.
*Provisional membership is available for those who have achieved relevant academic accreditation to degree level or higher and are able to conduct behaviour consultations but have not yet received the requisite experience to become full members.
Dog training and behaviour organisations
I am a member of a number of dog training and behaviour organisations whose code of conducts and ethics fit with my approach of force-free dog training, based on the science of how dogs learn and what works – in an effective and humane way. These organisations are:
- The Association of Pet Dog Trainers UK (membership number: 01157)
- The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (provisional member*)
- The Pet Professional Guild – The Association for Force Free Pet Professionals (member number: 8671373)
I am also recognised as an:
- Animal Behaviour & Training Council (ABTC) Registered Animal Training Instructor
Keeping my knowledge & skills up to date
I regularly attend seminars, workshops and conferences to expand my knowledge of dog training and behaviour and keep up to date with the latest training and behaviour developments. I have completed the Life Skills for Puppies: Training for Trainers course, run by the University of Lincoln, and based my classes on the Life Skills concept.
I have attended conferences, seminars and workshops where I have had the privilege to learn from:
• The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors • The Association of Professional Dog Trainers • Professor Ray Coppinger • Patricia McConnell • Sue Sternberg • Linda Case • Professor Clive Wynn • Ken Ramirez • Dr Susan Friedman • Dr Ian Dunbar • Dr Roger Abrantes • Grisha Stewart • Kelly Gorman Dunbar • Pam MacKinnon • Kim Hunt • Simon Gadbois • Dr Muriel Brasseur • Professor Daniel Mills • Chirag Patel • Teresa McKeon • Bob Bailey • Dr Karen Overall