Dawn Gilkison

Dawn Gilkison

Dog Trainer


Positive Solutions Dog Training

Milestones

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
First, I was born on the day that a dog, Laika, was launched into space on Sputnik II.
Then I grew up with dogs in the family and preferring stuffed animals to dolls.
Then I got interested in science, especially biology and ecology.
Then I studied biology in college, taking a class in animal behavior which led to my thesis.
Then I went to graduate school where I continued to study animal behavior.
Then I got a teaching certificate and became a high school science teacher.
School district ran out of money, my job became awful, I quit.
Then I went to the Karen Pryor Academy to get a dog trainer certification.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
Hinsdale Central High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
Reed College
graduate
Graduate
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
San Diego State University
certification
Certification/License
Teacher Certification 6-12
Career

Career

Dog Trainer

I work with dogs and their owners to create attentive companions and focused performance dogs.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Science
Science
Education
Education
Teaching / Mentoring
Teaching / Mentoring

Day to Day

I work one-on-one with clients and their dogs at their homes or in their neighborhood. Using positive reinforcement, I teach clients how to train their dogs and achieve their goals for their pet or performance dog.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Specialized training using operant conditioning with an event marker (clicker training), basic business organization and marketing, being able to multi-task and be flexible, problem solving and communication skills. And of course, a love of dogs above all.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Study animal behavior and the psychology of animal learning.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
graduate
Graduate
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
certification
Certification/License
Teacher Certification 6-12
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"You should keep your job, you will never be successful in your own business"

I made a list of all the skills I did have to bring to my new venture and also a list of skills I needed to gain. I realized I did have what I needed in abundance, and my passion about what I wanted to do gave me the energy to keep working toward my goal.

Challenges I Overcame

Financial
Financial

Start small. I still have a part-time job that helps support me as I build my business. You can build a great-looking website yourself very cheaply and do a lot of face-to-face marketing that is very low cost.