August 3, 2017

Service Dog Training for Veterans Suffering PTSD

By Published On: August 3rd, 2017Categories: Article

A Former Marine’s Journey to Healing and Finding His Calling

Mike Pipkin never looked at dog training as a career. In fact, he wanted to be a Police Officer. But after two tours of duty to the Middle East, the Marine Corps veteran didn’t make the cut for the Police Academy because he suffers from PTSD.

That news was heartbreaking for Pipkin. He started down a slippery slope of depression and drinking. Until he was offered a chance to be a dog trainer. “I didn’t think I wanted to be a dog trainer, but I’ve found that I’m good at it and I take great joy in creating a bond with the dogs and helping others.”

Healing and Comfort for veterans with PTSD

This win-win scenario is part of the Dog Trainer’s Program offered by legendary dog training expert and author, Mark “Dogman” Castillero. Dogman Mark has trained over 10,000 dogs in his 40-year career and looks for the right people to come to his training facility in Vista to learn the ins and outs of becoming a professional dog trainer.

An Ideal Career for Veterans in Career Transition

Veterans in career transition are ideal candidates for a dog training career. In fact, Pipkin is one of three veterans who are part of the Pro-Train Innovative Dog Training Team.  Being a dog trainer, says Pipkin, is an opportunity for someone with PTSD to train a service dog for another person with a disability, even another person with PTSD.

“After the military, I didn’t want to talk about PTSD…I didn’t want to be ‘labeled’ as damaged.” As Pipkin struggled to find his place in civilian life, he found that the public and, especially, other veterans needed to be educated and how to seek help. A service dog, he found, provides healing and comfort to veterans who suffer from PTSD.

Dogman Mark trains his team to custom tailor their service dog to its owner’s specific needs.

Pipkin just returned from a national conference in Washington D.C. put on by the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. Pipkin enjoyed learning new ways to be a better service dog trainer.

Service Dog Training Specific to the Owner’s Disability

He said that many training programs are cookie cutter and don’t train specific for a disease or disorder. Not so with Pro-Train.

Pro-Train is very hands-on and custom-tailors its service dog training. Dogman Mark encouraged Pipkin to learn how to train a service dog with the specific owner in mind. A person with PTSD needs a service dog that might sense anxiety and come to its owner’s aid before the owner even senses s/he needs the dog. “A service dog acts as a good distraction when my mind travels to bad memories, and it reminds me to breathe and refocus. A service dog is a great cuddler, too,” Pipkin smiled.

Do you know of a veteran in need of a service dog? Have them complete the Pro-Train Service Dog Application. And even if you haven’t thought about a career as a dog trainer but are encouraged by Pipkin’s story, send us an email at to learn about this very rewarding career.

“Shadow” served in the Marine Corps prior to deciding on a career in dog training.

Dogman Mark is taking registrations for a February 2018 one-day workshop. For just $149, attendees learn how to get trained right for a profitable and exciting career as a dog trainer. The six-hour training is held in North San Diego County. Spaces are limited, so sign up early.

To learn more about PTSD, contact the National Center for PTSD as part of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. There are valuable resources on the site and a hotline for veterans that can literally save a life.