About Barbara Handelman

I was a founding member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). I am a certified dog behavior consultant (CDBC) through that organization. I have been a member of the IAABC Working Animals Division since the organization’s inception in 2004. I helped to develop certification criteria for consultants working with service dogs and their handlers. I am a graduate of the Dogs of Course: Instructor Training Course.

Dog’s have been an essential part of my life since I was a very young child. In fact, my first conscious memory is of visiting a litter of puppies when I was just three-years-old. I remember when my family selected Beau, a standard poodle who became my best friend for the next 11 years. More than sixty years have passed since that time, each filled with dogs. I have enjoyed training dogs for other people since I was a teenager in high school. I have participated in many dog sports from competition obedience, to sheep herding, to agility and then on to service dog training which has been my primary dog-focused activity for over twenty years.

I have a Master’s Degree in Special Education. I have taught college level courses at the University of Maine, in Orono, Maine, and at the University of New Hampshire’s College for Lifelong Learning, in Lebanon, NH. Those courses focused on child development, family dynamics, and crisis intervention. I recently retired after a forty five-year career as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. I have been teaching on-line courses for E-Training for Dogs since 2009.

I can help you train your dog to accommodate your specific personal strengths and your disabilities. I have been partnered with my own service dogs for the past twenty years. I have trained each of my service dogs myself. I have personal experience with the limitations a mobility disorder and chronic pain impose on my life. They give me perspective and insight into the lives of my clients wishing to select and train their own service dogs. I use a power wheelchair whenever I leave home. My dogs are accustomed to assisting me while I walk around inside my house and when I am out and about in my power wheelchair. Service dogs can be quite versatile - I can help you train the skills that will make your dog most helpful in relation to your specific needs.

I am the author of the critically acclaimed book Canine Behavior: A Photo-Illustrated Handbook. I have presented talks at service dog conferences and presentations about both dog and horse behavior at the IAABC conferences.

For the last twenty-five years I have had a second career as a professional photographer, using my camera to capture the moods and movements of people, horses, and dogs. Many of my own photographs are included in my book, published articles and my course curricula. I use photographs and video to enhance the learning experience for all who study with me.


Training Methods

I bring respect, kindness and playfulness to my work with dogs and their people. My training approach embraces Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive (LIMA) behavior modification, and other training methods in keeping with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

With my own dogs, I use clicker training. My dogs receive well-timed feedback (a click) followed by a food treat each time they have achieved a tiny step towards a multi-phase training goal.

I am happy to teach you to use clicker training with your dog, if you choose to learn this method. I am also well versed in “lure and reward” and other positive reinforcement based training methods. I do not use force-based techniques, and I do not believe that equipment such as choke chains and e-collars are necessary to accomplish service dog training goals. I use only those training methods that help you develop a confident and willing service dog partner.


Published Articles:

You may print and distribute these articles as long as the copyright notice is printed on all copies.

Most of these articles are in PDF format. To read them you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The first of the "Agility On Wheels" articles was published in the May 2003 issue of Clean Run Magazine. Clean Run decided not to publish parts two and three due to other commitments for space in the magazine. I have therefore decided to publish them myself on this website.

Agility On Wheels: Part One (536 K)

Agility On Wheels: Part Two (1.4 MB)

Agility On Wheels: Part Three (648 K)

Articles previously published by Teaching Dogs Magazine are offered here with their permission.

Why Clicker Training For Service Dogs by Debi Davis and Barbara Handelman Volume 1 Issue 4; Teaching Dogs Magazine

Report from Service Dog Seminar article and photographs by Barbara Handelman Volume 1 Issue 5; Teaching Dogs Magazine

The Importance of Respecting the Rights of Disabled People by Barbara Handelman


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Contact Barbara by email: Barbara Handelman or by telephone 802-649-5213  •  Norwich, Vermont