Margaret began dog training as a serious hobby in 1993, taking obedience and agility classes with her English Shepherd, Trudy (d. May, 2007). In 1996, Margaret’s Belgian Malinois/Australian Shepherd cross, Gus, developed fear-based aggression. While working with Gus on those issues, Margaret apprenticed with a professional trainer. You could say Gus was the founder of The Humaner Trainer. That’s him on our logo.
In addition to the Humaner Trainer curriculum, Margaret developed programs for Austin Animal Center (formerly Town Lake Animal Center) and the Austin Humane Society, where she taught classes for two years. She has also mentored a number of dog trainers, including all the current Humaner Trainer staff. Margaret continues to expand her knowledge and skills by attending continuing education courses annually. She has studied with some of the best in the business including Bob and Marian Bailey, Suzanne Clothier, Jean Donaldson, Terry Ryan, Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Pia Silvani, Erich Klinghammer, and John Rogerson.
In her behavior practice, Margaret counsels owners of dogs with serious behavior problems such as aggression and separation anxiety. Margaret lost Gus to cancer at the end of February 2008, but his legacy lives on. Her experience helping Gus through his aggression issue gives her a unique perspective when helping others with this very troubling problem.
Margaret has been a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers since 1997, serving both as a committee member and chairperson. She earned the designation of Certified Pet Dog Trainer in 2002, passing the national exam administered by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. In 2003, she attended the prestigious San Francisco SPCA’s Dog Trainer Academy under Jean Donaldson, receiving a Counseling Certificate with Honors. She is one of only three trainers in Austin to earn the designation Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (www.iaabc.org). Margaret has also completed all four segments of Bob Bailey’s highly acclaimed, advanced training program known as “Chicken Camp” – the only Austin trainer to do all four segments under Bob’s direction.
Margaret was born in Chicago, attended high school in Tennessee, and graduated in 1983 from St. Edward’s University in Austin with a degree in Acting and Directing. Her background and experience in professional theatre have been instrumental in developing classes that are both educational and entertaining. Her training tips have been published in Chronicle of the Dog, Dog Fancy, Whole Dog Journal, and in the book Top Tips from Top Trainers.
Margaret shares her home with Janie, a Belgian Malinois who came to live with Margaret after flunking out of drug dog school (hence her formal name, Mary Jane), and the newest member of their family, Bonnie, a German Shepherd Dog who hails from Upstate New York and wants to know why it’s so dang hot down here.