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Donna Hill's

Service Dog Training Institute

About Us

Our Philosophy

We have been online helping people with disabilities to learn training techniques that build strong trusting relationships with their service dogs in training since 2015. Our free blog posts and service dog training videos date back to 2008. 

Dogs selected as service dogs are emotional intelligent beings who are assisting their humans to live a fulfilled life. As sensitive animals, we want to cultivate learning as a positive, motivating experience, not one where avoidance of corrections adds to an already difficult job. 

We use positive, ethical training approaches with both human and dog and teach handlers to be able to read and respond appropriately to their dog’s communication. In our philosophy, the human partner is responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of their service dogs and provides the training structure and environment that sets up their dogs for success. In return, the dog learns to function as a willing and eager partner to assist his or her human at home, in public access situations and life. 

Our educational business is transparent and what you see is what you get. Take a look around our website including the testimonials.

Dog Trainer Donna with labrador puppy
donna with lucy

Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed.

Training Coach and Curriculum Designer

A forerunner in the owner trained service dog field, Donna stays at the cutting edge of training, teaching and presentation skills. She was offering online service dog training when others were skeptical of it’s effectiveness. She is known for her high quality ethical training for both people and dogs.

Donna has been told that she reminds people of  Mary Poppins: she has a fun and contagious “can do” attitude and she pulls all kinds of training props from her trunk! She has been called a “profound trainer” for her concept approach and creative application of training principles. Her videos are used in Dr. Susan Friedman’s “Living and Learning With Animal” classes. She’s great with people and excels in teaching dogs and problem solving using creative approaches. She uses household objects for training to keep equipment costs low. 

A Heritage Interpreter for 15 years before switching to training people with dogs, she taught people about ecology in British Columbia and observing nature, and has been a nationally certified Heritage Interpreter since 2005. She was the evaluator of National Occupational Standards for Heritage Interpreters for for several years. She led “Train the Trainer” workshops on behalf of many government and non-profit educational organizations and consulted for them creating curriculum and writing “How to” manuals for teachers. Between 1994-2001, she used HTML (computer language) to create and maintain a website designed to use games to help teachers and parents teach their children about nature. Starting in the 1990’s she was participating on dog listservs and for several years was a consistently highly-rated respondent on (the now defunct) Yahoo! Answers in the dog training section. 

Her Background

Donna began training her own dogs at 8 years of age just for fun using kind training methods. After attending dog training classes as a teen, she realized punishment wasn’t needed to effectively train dogs to a high level and searched for many years to find someone to develop her positive approach. She holds a Human Dog Leadership Certificate (Basic Dog Hander Skills Training Course) in 1998 and PetSaver First Aid (1998) and Dog Safe First Aid in 2006. She has broad hands-on experience with dogs in shelters, kennels, dog daycare, groomers, has fostered dogs, helped raise litters, and trained and titled in dog sports (flyball, agility and rally) and does many dog sports for fun. She bicycles with her dogs. She published a dog training audio book in 2007 and 2 Service Training DVD’s in 2009 as well as hosts 2 dog training Youtube channels.

In addition to a Zoology degree in animal behavior and a teaching degree, she has been a behavioral interventionist for children and teens with autism and other developmental disabilities. In 2005, she began offering workshops to teach adults and dog trainers about the natural behavior of dogs. In 2008, she started helping people with disabilities to train their own service dogs, long before it was commonly done in BC and Canada. Since then, she has helped hundreds of service dog and assistance dog teams to work successfully at the public access level (including more than 20 students who have been successfully certified through the British Columbia Guide Dog and Service Dog Assessment Test.)

Donna loves researching recent scientific studies and is skilled at sharing information in a meaningful way and breaking down the theory and training into small easy-to-do pieces for human and dog alike! She believes that dogs are partners in life and shares approaches that are fair, ethical and emotionally intelligent. She has trained dogs, cats, a horse, goat, gerbils, mouse, frog, betta and other fish and even a wild crayfish!

She is a lifelong learner and stays current by taking webinars, workshops and classes by world class researchers and animal trainers.

Most recent continuing education

Modern Ethical Training Conference 2023
IAABC Continuing Education (CEU) webinars 2022
The Virtual Dog Training Conference 2021 (presented and attended)
Clicker Expo Live 2021 
Constructional Affection to Animal Welfare & Training Workshop 2021
FDSA & IAABC Lemonade Conference May 2020

For owner-trainers to professional dog trainers, Donna is available for web consults on service dog tasks and related behavior issues.

Check out the 1 to 1 web cam page to book an hour session with her!

Website Design & Maintenance

Bruce is our ‘go to guy’ for anything involving the website and technology for SDT Institute.
He has trained and competed in canine sports and has earned a number of masters-level agility titles. He also holds a Pet Saver Dog First Aid certificate (1998). He is a retired healthcare professional with training in counselling, public presentation, and adult education. Bruce has a unique interest in dogs and working with people. Through his professional work and involvement with dog training, he feels it is very important for owners to understand the emotional needs of both their canine companions and themselves. This will lead to healing.

Global Dog Village Bruce Computer Support

Bruce Angus. B.Sc.

Donna & Bruce

Donna and Bruce have been involved with dogs since their marriage more than 30 years ago and bought their first home so it was dog-ready. They have had multiple family dogs and fostered many others. They currently share their life with Lucy, a still-active senior border collie mix.

With all of the information available online, Donna & Bruce realized what was needed is a place online where like-minded people can find the resources needed to support them in a positive approach to living with and training their own service dogs. 

They are proud of their new website format and programs that makes it much easier for people to access lessons on training and other dog information they need to train their own service dog and trainers to help their clients. Donna is available for in-person consults in Nanaimo, BC Canada on Vancouver Island.

Our Motto

“Building owner trained service dog teams with trust and confidence to navigate life together.”

Dog on Beach Vancouver Island