April 2, 2012

About Gillian

Gillian & SamGillian Young is a Certified Dog Trainer, specializing in blind and deaf dogs, focusing on acclimating the owners and household to the dog’s condition. Gillian received her Bachelors degree in New York.  She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).

“Blind Dog Trainer” began when Gillian’s own beloved collie, Sam, went blind at 2 1/2 years old. It began as detached retinas, and spiraled into glaucoma, rendering him mostly blind within a matter of days and completely blind after a few weeks. During this time, Gillian began to develop training methods for acclimating blind dogs and their owners. Having been through every (emotional and physical) aspect of blindness, Gillian’s own experience helps owners through the initial adjustment and supports owners with normalizing their dog’s life with a “special needs” mindset.  He received “bilateral intrascleral prosthesis” in 2008 and is now glaucoma free! Dr. Nancy Bromberg of Southpaws Veterinary Clinic in Arlington, Virginia was a miracle worker and took care of Sam’s eyes,  and their removal, and he remains the magnificent dog he was before the blindness.

Gillian was featured as a guest on Animal Radio XM 158. The link to the podcast can be found here: AnimalRadio.com Podcast. The Blind Dog Trainer interview portion begins at minute 19:00 of the 2 hour broadcast.    She also wrote a special article to assist rescue workers and new owners with blind dogs for her veterinary friend in Los Angeles, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, the very same vet featured on many episodes of “My Cat From Hell”.

Gillian also works with your normal (sighted) ill-mannered, unchallenged house-pet. Gillian believes in easy, time efficient, manageable positive reinforcement training techniques that last and fit with your routine.

Gillian is a licensed, bonded and insured overnight pet sitter for the San Diego area. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). She has previously worked with Collie Rescue in the Washington DC region with Collie Rescue, Inc. and worked with Dog On Fitness in Fairfax county of Northern Virginia.

Locally, she has worked with special needs rescue dogs that have come to San Diego via Boston Brigade (Boston Terrier Rescue) and Labrador Harbor and Labrador Rescuers. She also is a volunteer at Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas, CA.

Gillian’s Training Mottos:

1. “You Get The Dog You Deserve”

If you choose to put in the work, effort and consistency into modifying your dog’s behavior, you will see results and end up with the dog you want. It will take on-going reinforcement and practice to keep your dog in this condition. Your dog will not stay as fluid after training if you do not practice and enforce the behaviors. You cannot learn a language in a week, and cannot become a concert pianist in a month. The change takes time, please don’t rush it.

2. “It’s Either A Rule, Or It’s Not.”

The entire household and all guests must be on the same page when it comes to dog rules. Since dogs will test you for breaking the rules, you must decide whether it is a rule, or it is not. You can’t bend the rules for “special occasions” and expect results. Make it a rule and stick to it, or don’t make it a rule. Remember, how can he follow the rules if YOU can’t?

3. Teach Your Dog Shortcuts

Once you have begun training with Gillian, you’ll understand how to change your behaviors so that the dog changes theirs. For example: Pulling is a self-rewarding behavior. A dog knows the harder they pull, the faster they will get to what they want to see. Once you stop inadvertently rewarding a dog’s bad behavior, the dog has to figure out these new shortcuts. When you stop dead when they begin to pull, eventually they will give up and look back at you to ask what’s up… you can either reward the look back with moving forward again, or you can wait til they sit or walk slowly forward. When a dog realizes that checking in with you or walking slowly becomes the shortcut to their goal, the dog changes their behavior and pulling decreases. All without prong collars, head collars, punishments or even leash pop corrections. Simply use patience, good timing and rewards.

Get to know Gillian:

Gillian is an accomplished equestrienne, having ridden horses for over 25 years (hunter-jumpers and most recently, polo).  She currently runs an arena polo school to help make polo accessible to the local community in San Diego.  She currently manages the care, feeding and exercise of 7 polo ponies in Poway, California, and a few more at a private ranch in Rancho Santa Fe.  Her care and commitment to her animals continues as she makes sure each and every one of her horses is cared for and handled gently and properly.

She has also been involved with Civil Air Patrol since joining in 1995.   Civil Air Patrol is a nationwide volunteer search and rescue organization and an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. She holds the rank of Captain and serves as her local squadron’s Assistant Public Affairs Officer at United States Marine Corps base, Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.

Gillian sometimes writes pet related articles for various publications in the San Diego area, and will often be seen strolling along with her blind dog, Sam, in various beach-front towns, going for a cathartic gallop through the hills in Rancho Santa Fe, or poodling around in Poway playing some polo with her fellow polo and dog-loving friends.

Sam & Gillian