A Good Reason To Educate

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Education Programs and Certifications


Foster Home Education 

This is TBone (Top photo). He was on the kill list at  a shelter for aggressive behavior toward humans, but after going through a special foster training program designed specifically for dogs like him, he is now an amazing family dog. 

Rescuing dogs from animal shelters is an awesome thing to do, but national statistics show that on average, 10% of all adopted dogs are returned to the shelter or rescue they came from. The primary reasons are behavior issues, like biting, jumping, aggression, or fear.

Most people don't realize that when they adopt a dog, it will often have suffered a trauma and might have difficulty adjusting to a new home. There are also cases where a dog is in the shelter for too long and becomes institutionalized. It becomes difficult for them to connect with people the longer they stay in the shelter.

Many shelters and rescues try to combat this issue by creating foster programs. For the most part, they're a great success, but there are still dogs that fall through the cracks. 

"Many fosters don't feel they have the education that they need to help at risk dogs become adoptable." - Foster Coordinator  CT-Animal House Rescue

Being a Foster-Trainer for several national rescues, I've worked with over 400 death row-dogs with complex behavior issues that have been successfully rehabilitated and adopted.  In the 10 years that I've been doing this, I've optimized the rehabilitation process. I feel that the knowledge that I've gained needs to be shared to save more dogs. Implementing a Mind-Body-Spirit approach made it possible to help dogs in foster care reach their maximum education level in the shortest possible period of time.  

Austin Animal Center, the country's largest no-kill shelter with over 8000 adoptions a year, invited us to  share that knowledge with fosters and staff. A grant from Maddie's Fund made it possible to do a workshop that was free to the fosters and behavior team.

Without fosters, Austin could not be No-Kill. Animals who are too young, sick, hurt, or simply not behaviorally suited for the shelter need a helping hand to bridge them to their forever home.
— Beth B. Foster for Austin Animal Shelter
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The results from that workshop were amazing. A pre-workshop survey showed that only 30% of the fosters attending were comfortable taking in reactive or aggressive dogs. After the workshop, 73% said they would be fine with it. Before the workshop, only 17% felt comfortable rehabbing a reactive dog. After, an astounding 100% felt confident that they could rehabilitate a reactive dog. Fosters also felt more confidence in educating new adopters about their foster dog, and helping them create a healthy relationship. The numbers went from 27% to 82%.

Thank you AAC and Friends of Austin Animal Center for bringing Roman to Austin and providing this training for fosters.
— workshop graduate

The program was so successful that we've been asked to do  Holistic Foster Training workshops all over the country, and even internationally. Rescues from England, Ireland, Canada, and Australia have all invited us. 

This workshop makes it easier for no-kill shelters and rescues to build a path to adoption for long-stay dogs, and decreases the likelihood of euthanasia due to behavior issues,  and adopter returns.

Unfortunately we've run into a problem; money. Most shelters and rescues have limited funds to pay for foster education, even though fosters are a big part of every successful no-kill shelter. We would like to use the money we raise with this campaign to offer the program for free to at least 3 shelters or rescues who currently have foster programs, but have budget constraints.

The funds will pay for us to take time off from work to facilitate the workshops, traveling expenses, and  venues. We eventually want to do this program in every no-kill community in the country so that we can support their work to save lives. We're asking for your help to make our dream come true. 

 Here are a few  testimonials from Austin Animal Center and Friends of Austin Animal Center volunteers and fosters about the workshop:

All the fosters want to express our thanks to Friends of Austin Animal Center and Maddie’s fund for sponsoring this training for our dedicated volunteers. Workshops like these build skills that are key to equipping our skilled volunteers with the knowledge to create the shortest path from shelter to a forever home for Austin’s shelter pets.
— Sara Shannon - Event Organizer and AAC Platinum Volunteer

The workshop is facilitated by myself and co-taught by Barbara Buck, an energy medicine practitioner and certified Holistic Handler.  

I guide dog owners, trainers, behaviorists, and fosters to finally solve even the most complex challenges. I use holistic, emotion-based, force-free training methods to get results. I am a firm believer in educating not only pet professionals, but the public about emotionally positive training and the damaging effects that negative reinforcement and alpha theory can have on dogs, especially ones with trauma. 

Holistic Dog Training is based on the law of nature that a whole is made up of interdependent parts. An individual dog is more than just an animal to be controlled.  Emotions, energy, and health are all involved in creating and maintaining a positive human/dog relationship naturally, for life.  Holistic training addresses all of these elements so that they can exist in harmony to heal an out of balance dog.

Here is a link to to Friends of Austin Animal Center's  blog post about the workshop at Austin Animal Center:

This workshop was a great way for our fosters to build on skills they use every day with their current foster pups, and with future fosters as well. The relationships built over the course of the workshop are invaluable to the ongoing success of all the programs at Friends.
— Jonathan Hogue Board President, Friends of Austin Animal Center


Service Professionals Education Program

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The Holistic Dog Handler workshops are designed specifically for professional pet services like veterinary offices, boarding facilities, and groomers. Staff will learn the holistic approach to dog training and be given the tools they need to handle dogs in a safe and supportive manner.

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When the Holistic Handler workshop is completed, participants will understand how dogs think in binary terms, using simple exercises to show how each individual dog has a different thinking pattern based on his breed, sex, age, experience, trauma, and emotional intelligence.

They will learn how to deal with multiple dogs, handle aggression and reactivity, and resolve complex disputes and behavioral issues. Diagrams, videos, and practical application will show how emotions and excitement can lead a dog from calmness to arousal, and what state of mind a dog is in at any given moment.


What Staff Will Learn

  • Dog personality traits and how they behave in social settings

  • Establishing trust

  • Excitement control

  • Excitement and engagement

  • How trauma affects dogs

  • Understanding reactivity and aggression, and the difference between the two

  • Handling disputes between dogs and breaking up fights

  • Reading and understanding body language

  • Behavior troubleshooting

  • Handler safety

  • Getting dogs in and out of kennels and play yards

  • Leash safety

  • Using safety equipment properly

  • Transporting dogs, getting them in and out of cars

  • Restraining a dog safely without harming them


All workshops are tailored to the specific needs of your business and are flexible regarding staffing issues. Pricing is based on the number of staff, location, and other logistics.


Host a Local Workshop

Help your city become Non-Kill and host a local foster training workshop with Roman

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Host An online Workshop

Improve and suport your foster network by offering a online training class with Roman


Become a Certified Holistic Foster parent

Help your foster heal from trauma, eliminate bad behavior, and improve his 

Thank you very much for your support and dedication to the animal rescue community. Your help will make a difference to the dogs who find their forever homes because of your donation.
— Roman Gottfried, Founder of Holistic Dog Training