Susan McKeon BSc (Hons), APDT, UK (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 greyhounds. I’ve worked with several national greyhound 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.
Forever Hounds Trust – Post Homing Support Coordinator
As well as running Happy Hounds, I also work (part-time) for Forever Hounds Trust – a national charity which is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of unwanted, abused or abandoned greyhounds and lurchers.
I manage a team of qualified behaviourists, and we provide advice and support to Forever Hounds Trust owners and their dogs should they experience any behavioural problems. The support is provided by phone, email or a visit (depending on location). This service is free to Forever Hounds Trust owners.
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), APDT, UK (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; 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 APDT, UK – 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 APDT, UK 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
Come and see my methods in action
Don’t be swayed by a vast array of letters though – I welcome anyone to come and observe my classes and see me and my methods in action. That way, you can best decide whether my classes are for you and your dog. There is also a great article on how to find a suitable dog trainer on the Welfare in Dog Training website.
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 base 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