My name is Agnes Nemeth, I like to be called Agi. I’m a dog trainer, I was born and been living in Budapest, Hungary, moved to Graz, Austria in 2020. I have a 10+ years dog training experience, my main profile is assistance dog training. You may see my professional bio here.
Nothing unusual: I have been in love with dogs since my childhood. However I had to wait for my first one until the age 12, my folks thought by then I will be able to handle all the duties it takes: walk, feed, vet issues, etc. Well… I did my best although it was not easy to wake up and take her for a walk after a late night party.
I always wanted a rough collie (has everyone read Eric Knight’s Lassie Come-Home? hands in the air!), but since my godmother had an English Cocker spaniel (the only dog in the whole wide family) it was mandatory to have the same breed. Sadly she had a short life: she was barely 6 when she died in a serious kidney-related disease. I was inconsolable and could not have the best cure to my sorrow i.e. a new puppy yet. I had to wait a few years and as I moved to my own apartment, I could have any kind of breed I chose.
Belgian shepherd was the one. The groenendael kind. And a lifelong love has begun.
Timber (named after the timberwolves, not some hardwood) has lived a long, healthy and balanced life, so it was obvious that the next groenendael must be her descendant. She had a litter when she was 3, I only had to find an offspring. Doris she was. She came and ruined my harmonic life and everything I thought I knew about dogs.
My third dog was actually the first
Doris faced me that I knew nothing. She never came back when called, chewed on all of my books and pillows, had a serious separation anxiety, and she made me more and more desperate every day. I had to make up my mind: return her to the breeder (what a shame it would have been!) or confront… myself.
Now I remember it as learning instead of fighting, but we definitely had some battles. I couldn’t have done it alone, but I found a very good dog school, its leader was a known ethologist at ELTE University and also a professional dog trainer, Márta Gácsi, PhD. I’ve learned a lot from her about my dog, dogs in general, wolves and animal behavior, she helped me in becoming a therapy dog trainer, led me to the world of dog sports. after a while I was asked to lead the dog school’s intermediate level group – another good lesson, about the owners this time.
And then a Facebook ad came…
I was a weekend trainer only, on the weekdays I worked as anyone else, sitting in a front of computer, producing GDP, waiting for the afternoons to rush to agility or other training or simply just to go for a big walk with my friends and our pack. The other day I rolled my Facebook wall – most of my FB friends are dog people, no surprise – and someone shared a very special job offer, posted by the Hungarian Federation for the Blind. They were looking for someone who has at least 3-years-experience in dog training, speaks English, has a drivers license and wants to become a guide dog trainer. I thought there will be hundreds of people applying, but I gave myself a chance.
I won. Great years came, training dogs as a full time job, a hobby transformed to a profession. I learned everything about guide dogs from matching breeding pairs to letting the veteran dogs go, went thru all the stages of puppy raising, training and aftercare, learned to handle dog-health issues and daily problems of blind people too. Meanwhile made a year-long course about how to train service dogs for physically disabled people, consequently now I am able to train facility dogs, mobility assistance dogs, psychiatric service dogs and of course, guide dogs.
Courses and seminars
As years went by, I tried a few dog-related methods, techniques and… stuff. You may find a – far from complete – list below.
- Facility dog trainer course
- Guide dog trainer course
- Mobility and personal assistance dog course
- First aid for dogs
- Mantrailing seminar
- Massage and stretching for sport dogs
- Mirror Method course
- 2nd Dog Ethology Conference, organized by the ELTE University’s Family Dog Project
- Instructor training course
- Tracking seminar
- “Do as I do” method course
- several tests and experiments (50+) with both of my dogs at the ELTE Uni’s Ethology faculty
- Basic motivational training for sport dogs
- agility competitions (level A2)
- K99 exams (dog sport only in Hungary, a little obedience, a hint of agility, some tracking and protection)
- flyball contests
- European Guide Dog Federation conference
And tried many-many more, e.g. herding, dock diving, dog frisbee, treibball, balance training and so on. And will keep going on for sure.
And what do I do in the absence of dogs? Well, bouldering is my new hobby (though my shoulder is not fascinated), poking the plants in my garden is an older one (I’m a horticultural engineer by my original profession), going hiking or write an article to my blog. About dogs, what else.