About me

SANDRA ILIEVSKI
CACE

Ever since I can remember I was surrounded by animals, particularly dogs. Working with animals, and animal behavior has always interested me. I got my first dog, little mixed breed Maza when I was just seven years old and since then dogs are normal part of my life. As a child, many times I took home stray or wild animals, many of them I nursed to health, rehabilitated and re-homed them, and wild ones I’d would set free after they’ve recovered. In the early nineties, I had a sharplanina shepherd Fedra, with whom I wanted to do obedience training at the loal club. My enthusiasm waned when in the club they told me that “this breed can’t be trained”. I began to attend private obedience classes, but did not like the methods and wouldn’t accept prong collar and rough handling, so I gave up and trained Fedra by myself. The claim that these dogs “can’t be trained” and “can’t learn anything because they’re stubborn” proved to be wrong, because I achieved with Fedra whatever I wanted. Fedra and I had very special bond, she was my canine soulmate. Although back then I did not know anything about the principles of learning or about modern training methods, and I technically did use the “traditional” way of training, I refused to abuse animals by hitting, kicking or by using equipment such as shock, choke or prong collars. In my heart I have always felt that causing pain is not the way I want to choose to teach animals.

Later on, I went to live in Australia where I studied graphic design and worked in the field. For a while I volunteered at the RSPCA and enrolled Companion Animal Care Management and Handling course. I also worked as a dog walker and took the dogs to obedience classes if their owners couldn’t do so because they didn’t have time.

After returning to Croatia, I was more and more drawn towards working with dogs and animals, but I was not interested in sport or competing, but communication and behavior. Available dog training schools did not give me answers to questions that have interested me, nor I was satisfied with the way of how the dogs were treated for the sake of achieving wanted results.

I started to research, bought lots of professional literature and started to learn things I was interested in. I also helped various people who had problems with their dogs or wanted to learn something but did not know how. Often I fostered dogs with behavior problems until adoption and some of them I adopted myself. Further on, I enrolled at the Ethology Institute Cambridge which included subjects such as ethology, learning theory, evolution, anatomy and physiology of dogs, dog behavior, behavior problems and behavior problem-solving, first aid, etc.

My way of work is based on scientifically proven principles of learning. The use of physical force and intimidation or equipment that causes fear pain and discomfort is not in the repertoire of my work.

I currently share my life with three dogs and two cats.

Education:

  • 2000- 2003 RSPCA, Sydney, Australia
  • 2003 Companion Animal Care Management and Handling, Sydney , Australia
  • 2010/11 Cambridge Ethology Institute, CPDT, CACE
  • 2011. Making sense of nonsense, webinar by dr. Roger Abrantes
  • 2011. Dog Training Terminology, webinar by dr. Roger Abrantes
  • 2011. Clicker psychology in canine sport and working cynology, seminar by Andrea Pintar
  • Love has no age limit – increasing the odds of successful adoption, webinar by Patricia McConnell
  • 2014. Aggression and Conflict, Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science (SPARCS)
  • 2014. Temperament and Personality, Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science (SPARCS)
  • 2014. Science in Training, Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science (SPARCS)
  • 2014. Calming signals, seminar Turid Rugaas, Zagreb
  • 2015. Socialisation from birth to adolescence, lecture by Andrea Pintar, Zagreb
  • 22.-24. 5. 2015. Animal Assisted Therapy Workshop, Melissa Winkle, Zagreb
  • 2015. Stress: physiology, cognition and behavior, Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science (SPARCS)
  • 2015. dr. Jaak Panksepp: The Evolved Primal Emotional Feelings of Animal Brains and Animal Minds: Clinical and Therapeutic Application, webinar
  • 2015. Certificate in pet nutrition, ICOES
  • 1-2. 6. 2016. Dog in Animal Assisted Intervention, international conference, Warshaw, Poland
  • 11-13. 10. 2016. International Companion Animal Welfare Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • November 2016. Fear Free Certification Program: Full Seminar, AAVSB | American Association of Veterinary State Boards

Working experience:

  • volunteered at the RSPCA, Sydney, Australia
  • volunteer for Futura Daj Šapu, animal protection association Zagreb
  • dog behavior problems counseling
  • working with dogs with behavior problems
  • lectures about socialization
  • wrote several articles for Zooportal and 24 hours newspaper (online edition),
  • guest speaker on TV-show Na rubu znanosti
  • hold puppy socialization, training classess and workshops,
  • wrote and designed educational brochures A guide for buying or adopting a dog, Fear of loud noises and Caring for your dog during summer
  • On weekly basis I write educational articles on dog behavior and training for 24 hours pets portal
  • wrote various articles about dogs, their origin, behavior, training, learning and behavior problems published on the website www.urbanpet.hr, www.en.urbanpet.hr and www.canis.hr
  • published a book by Barry Eaton Dominance in dogs – fact or fiction in Croatian language
  • published free ebook Before you get your puppy by Ian Dunbar in Croatian language
  • For the first time I introduced program R.E.A.D. to Croatia.  My dog Flick and I are a licensed R.E.A.D. team and together with colleague Sergej Jonke and his dog Kira run the program “Doggie Tales”. The program was approved by Croatian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport in 2014.

Interests:

  • animal welfare
  • communication
  • emotions
  • nutrition
  • cognition
  • animal assisted therapy

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