Background: Freedom Service Dogs of America is a nonprofit organization located in Englewood, CO that unleashes the potential of dogs by transforming them into custom-trained, life-changing assistance dogs for people in need. Clients include children, veterans and active duty military, and other adults. Their disabilities include autism, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Position Title: Dog Trainer I
Position Type: Full time, non-exempt
Benefits: Medical, dental, and vision insurance covered in part by employer; 401k plan with company match.
Provide basic obedience and custom task training to meet the needs of clients using positive reinforcement and clicker training. Train 5-7 dogs at a time adhering to training requirements required by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) standards. Provide training to clients during quarterly placement classes and provide ongoing training as needed. Help train, mentor, and manage volunteers that are assisting in dog socialization, walking and training. Reports to the Dog Training Director.
The essential functions listed below are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed; the omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them from the position if the work is similar, related or a logical assignment to be completed by the position:
- Train between five (5) and seven (7) dogs on beginning and basic obedience commands and advanced custom skills specific to clients’ needs
- Teach newly acquired dogs beginning and basic obedience commands
- Adhere to training plan and documentation of training hours, data and evaluations for each dog in training in accordance to FSD and Assistance Dogs International Standards
- Complete public evaluations of all dogs in training
- Document all training hours, public outings, and evaluations for each dog in Organization’s database
- Coordinate and supervise playgroups for dogs in training twice daily Monday through Friday
- Directing and organizing volunteers that are assisting in dog socialization, walking and training
- Provide weekly updates/reports on each dog’s progress
- Assist with potential client interviews as needed
- Help match clients with service dogs in training based on a dog’s particular talent and a client’s need
- Educate clients on dog training and cues during Placement Classes
- Educate clients on dog training and cues for one week in their own home and community
- Provide ongoing support and training to client/dog team graduates as needed for the service life of the client’s dog
- Provide follow-up assistance to clients to address service dog behavioral issues or new skill/task development
- Re-certify graduated dog/client teams on an annual basis
- Help train, mentor, and manage volunteers that are assisting in dog socialization, walking and training
- Direct and support volunteer dog handlers during Handlers Class
- Provide support to volunteers as needed
Responsible for training, mentoring, assigning tasks to, and monitoring the Dog Operations volunteers
This job operates in dog kennels, surrounding areas and a professional office environment. The noise level in the work environment can often be loud. Employees will work in close proximity with all types and breeds of dogs. The location is a non-smoking environment.
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.
While performing the duties of this job, which primarily includes training and taking care of dogs and their kennels, the employee is regularly required to be very physically active. The employee is frequently required to stand, bend, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl and perform a variety of physical motions with his or her hands, arms, shoulders and legs in order to properly clean kennels, care for and train dogs. The employee is often on her or his feet, and is often required to walk; escort visitors or volunteers in or around the kennel areas; and climb or balance. The employee is to communicate regularly with others, though it is also possible that the employee will often have to work alone for long stretches of time.
The employee must be able to manipulate and use all equipment and tools necessary to care for dogs, including leashes, medicines, locking mechanisms, and dog toys. Employee must be able to open packages, measure, and use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools, or controls; reach with hands and arms; and talk or hear. Employee must be able to use a writing instrument to record information related to dog care and must be able to use a computer keyboard.
The employee must regularly lift and move up to 50 pounds and frequently lift and/or move up to 25 pounds. This includes the ability to retrieve and distribute dog food and other supplies and ability to retrieve and replace objects from shelves of up to 7 feet high. This job requires handling multiple dogs in training every day of up to 100 pounds on and off leash. The employee will work in proximity to cleaning agents and disinfectants and must be able to follow instructions for the use and storage of these chemicals.
Work occasionally requires more than 40 hours per week to perform the essential duties of the position; may require irregular hours to accommodate unforeseen dog care demands outside of regular hours. During work, the employee is expected to be physically present at the kennels when not on an outing with a dog in training or with a client/dog team in training. On occasion, employee must be able to drive a company vehicle.
Position Type and Expected Hours of Work
This is a full-time, non-exempt position consisting of approximately 40 hours of work per week. Regular days and hours of work are Monday- Friday from 7:30am - 4:30pm, but these hours may be adjusted depending on the needs of the Organization. This position will require working weekends, holidays, and being open to working additional shifts on an as needed basis.
Local travel, such as travel to dog and client outings, and animal shelters is expected. Out of state or in-state travel is required to assist clients with training and required re-certifications of the dog/client team.
Required Education and Experience
- Assist with dog behavioral evaluations in animal shelters and other settings as needed
- Assist with all programs of the Organization as needed
- Participate in continuing education related to mental health, disabilities, animal assisted therapy, veterans, children with disabilities, and client needs
- Participate in continuing education related to dog training, dog behavior, and innovative training/teaching methods
- Assist with kennel care and cleaning as needed
- Drive company vehicle to transport dogs or other needs of the Organization
- Other duties that may be assigned
Preferred Education, Experience and Competencies
- Associates degree in animal behavior, psychology, zoology, biology or related experience
- Minimum of two (2) years of experience professional positive reinforcement dog training
- Advanced understanding of canine behavior and learning theory by completion of an FSD administered test at the time of interview
Required Skills and Competencies
Dog Interaction and Training Skills:
- Bachelor's Degree in animal behavior, psychology, zoology, biology or related experience
- Certificate or degree from Animal Behavior College, Bergin University of Canine Studies, Karen Pryor Academy or other positive reinforcement and clicker training dog training program
- Nonprofit work/volunteer experience
Language and Communication Skills:
- Must have an affinity for dogs.
- Must be able to learn FSD dog training techniques and consistently implement training techniques.
- Must be able to work in a fast paced environment.
- Must be able to work cooperatively and collaboratively in a team environment.
- Must be able to stay focused despite numerous distractions and multiple tasks.
- Ability to communicate effectively with peers, direct reports, management, clients, partners, donors, vendors and stakeholders.
- Approaches others in a professional and tactful manner; reacts well under pressure; treats others with respect and consideration regardless of their status or position; accepts responsibility for own actions; follows through on commitments.
- Routinely utilize advanced English language skills to edit documents and to prepare reports, correspondence, and training materials including spelling, sentence structure, syntax, grammar, usage, and the chief aspects of style, such as punctuation, capitalization, abbreviations, plurals and possessives, and compound words.
- Interpersonal skills necessary to communicate and follow instructions effectively with a diverse group of team members and provide information with ordinary courtesy, patience and tact.
- Ability to communicate any problems or issues in training the dogs to the appropriate personnel, and recommend any changes in status of the dog in training.
- Ability to solve practical problems and deal in a variety of situations using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Ability to interpret and to apply common sense understanding to carry out instructions furnished in written, oral, or diagram form.
- Ability to maintain a high level of mental concentration and effort and strain when performing a high volume of analyses and decision making as well as other essential duties.
Additional Eligibility Qualifications
Must have a valid driver’s license and maintain current vehicle insurance.
Work Authorization/Security Clearance (if applicable)
Must be authorized to work in the United States.
Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Essential and marginal job duties, responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice.
Equal Opportunity Employment
Freedom Service Dogs is dedicated to the principles of equal employment opportunity in any term, condition, or privilege of employment. We do not discriminate against applicants, clients, graduates or employees on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, physical or mental disability, or any other status protected by state or local law.
- Proficiency in Microsoft Word and Outlook with typing proficiency.
- Proficiency in using a database system.
- Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals.
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