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The Best Dog Trainers in Chapel Hill, NC of 2023

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Merlin Noble

May 24, 2023

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Chapel Hill, NC Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Chapel Hill based on votes from the Sniffspot community and the general public. Over 55,000 votes were used in compiling this list. We have only included the top trainers with sufficient votes and the trainers are ordered in terms of the number of votes received. Trainers that tied are ranked in reverse alphabetical order based on first name. All dog trainers on this list are positive reinforcement only, as defined by no force, fear, intimidation, or aversive methods used. This list is a subset of the broader Top Trainers in North Carolina list. To learn more about our dog trainer contest, feel free to view the dog trainer contest post.

Dog training is one of the most important activities someone can do with their dog. Many come to dog training through a specific issue they want addressed, anything from barking to separation anxiety. Some have adopted dogs from animal shelters with an abusive experience and some just have happy puppies looking for everyday life skills. Trainers can help with all kinds of specific skills and issues, from leash manners to territorial aggression to anxiety around skateboards to common puppy challenges. However, what many discover is that working with a trainer is actually a way for a pet owner to deepen their relationship with their dog. The enhanced communication skills that result can increase quality of life, be a rewarding experience, be a social experience and lead to more harmonious relationships. Knowing that one’s dog is having a happier life can dramatically improve peace of mind. As the saying goes: happy dog, happy life. And it extends further than just the dog, to the pet owners. Owner empowerment can actually improve the relationship between owners. And finding the right trainer can make all the difference in the experience.

This list is sponsored by Sniffspot, which is the largest network of private dog parks for rent in the world. Each of the thousands of Sniffspot dog parks are hosted by locals on private land with all private bookings to maximize safety for guests and their dogs. Sniffspot offers various types of dog parks, including fenced, water parks, indoor dog parks, dog beaches and more. Sniffspot has worked closely with dog trainers to create safe spaces for dogs and our top trainer lists are a natural extension of that relationship. You can browse Sniffspot's local dog parks here.

The Best Chapel Hill, NC Dog Trainers in 2023

Rebecca Gridley

What do you do when you have tried everything? It seems like things get better one day, but the next, things go two steps back. This struggle is something I have lived through and made me the trainer I am today. My own special needs rescue dogs had so many things going on.

What started as just some simple frustration behaviors at first became full-blown behavior. Everything that is touted as a solution, 'redirect here, click and treat for this', just didn't work. Between stress, exhaustion, and tears, I kept thinking, 'what the heck is going on, I have rehabbed so many other dogs over the years, but this is different!'

And this is where learning about our furry companions really begins.

In my over ten years as a vet tech and in my education (Masters in Physiology), some pieces stood out, but putting together this puzzle was tough. Over the past several years, I have spent time diving into everything I could, learning about the whole behavioral health picture for my dogs, and it was starting to make sense.

It turns out my special guy had undiagnosed pain for years. And the pain was leading to growing behavioral concerns.

Had I known then what I know now, we could have saved years of frustration, stress and struggle.

This has been the case for several of my client teams too!

Is every case pain related? No! But by understanding body language, how our dogs interact with space, sounds, and objects and how they problem solve even the simplest (but still frustrating) concerns like connected leash walking and prey drive, we can create a smarter (not harder) approach with choice and never using pain or fear

My goal, no, my mission is to help pet parents near and far connect with their dogs on a deeper level, understand the WHYs of a behavior, and gain hope and success in achieving goals.

If you want a trainer that will just tell you to click and treat or a quick single-session fix, that is not me. When we work together, we are going to get to know your companion on another level, and you'll grow the skills you need to observe, and problem-solve so that you can live your best life with your dog (or rabbit).

Certifications: Veterinary Behaviorist Recommended

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training

More info about service provided: All teams start with a virtual Initial Consultation and from there we build a customized training plan. Most clients are virtual and in person is available in select areas.

Behavioral issue focus: We can work on connected leash walking and basic life skills but I also specialize in helping anxious/aggressive/and reactive dog teams as well as helping your pup learn about cooperative care such as enjoying vet visits, grooming, and medical care.

Training methods: Total Pet Training LLC. use a whole picture approach using only research backed and humane methods. We are 100% AVSAB humane practices compliant and focus on choice rich connection.

Why I became a dog trainer: It happened out of necessity to help my own and foster dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing teams connect, understand each other, and find joy with where they are makes our progress that much sweeter.

My #1 dog training tip: Look at the whole picture, the out of context matters.

Service areas: Raleigh/Cary/Durham/Chapel hill and surrounding areas in NC as well as Clarksville/Chase City, VA and ANYWHERE with internet (including internationally!)


Joanne Ometz

My work centers on companion dogs and helping them live well in a human world. I have been educated through Turid Rugaas, the Karen Pryor professional course, and Suzanne Clothier's Treat/Retreat technique for dogs who are socially awkward with people. I also have a Masters Degree in Social Work. I am passionate about both my work and the many opportunities to learn and improve my knowledge and skills.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, Turid Rugaas Certified, MSW

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Classes, private sessions, and dog day school (a weekday, all day positive reinforcement training program for dogs 8wks-2yrs).

Behavioral issue focus: Leash Reactivity, fearful dogs, jumping up, pulling, dogs who are socially awkward with people, family dog issues

Training methods: Force free, positive reinforcement. One of a handful of people in the US educated by Norwegian behaviorist Turid Rugaas. She was one of the first people to study canine body language and to incorporate it in to how she works with dogs. I bring my social work training and experience to my work with both people and dogs, along with an understanding of Polyvagal Theory and how we coregulate our nervous systems with our canine companions.

Why I became a dog trainer: I started in 2009, when I got a little rescue named Sadie. I took a class with a wonderful trainer who taught me to use a clicker. I went on to start the Gateway Dog Club because I wanted to keep training with other folks, and ended up teaching at the meetings. loved it so much I decided to make it my life's work.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing folks start to understand their dogs better and teaching them how to help their dogs live better in a human world. The light in the dog's eyes when they 'get' what you want them to do, and then they choose to do it again!

My #1 dog training tip: Be patient and only give the cue once. If your dog doesn't comply, use that as information. Were there too many distractions? Is your dog tired or scared? What do you need to do to set your dog up for success?

Service areas: Durham, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough,


Sniffspot Chapel Hill Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Chapel Hill dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Chapel Hill as selected by broad voting from the Sniffspot community and the general public. These trainers are expert dog trainers, who received votes from their delighted customers, due to their excellent dedication to customer service, excellent results and general care they exhibit for their clients. Many have worked with thousands of dogs and are highly experienced trainers.

How can I get in touch with dog trainers?

Each of the trainer profiles contains a link to their website. You can click through to their website where you can find more contact information.

Are these Chapel Hill dog trainers certified professionals?

Dog training is not regulated at the federal or state level, so there is no standard dog training certification and professional trainers are not required to be certified. However, certifications are important to show that a professional dog trainer has a standard of expertise to help train your dog. Each trainer’s certifications are listed on their profile.

What are the top certifications for Dog Trainers in Chapel Hill?

Some of the top certifications in the dog training industry are CPDT- KA, IAABC, Karen Pryor Academy - KPA certification, Jean Donaldson's Academy - CTC certification and Fear Free Certification. You can review the dog trainer certifications for each specific dog trainer on their profile on this page.

What methods are used in the dog training sessions?

There are many methods for teaching dogs and a lot of disagreement about the correct training approach. All of the Chapel Hill trainers included on this list use positive reinforcement training only, as defined by no force, fear, intimidation, or aversive methods used. This includes not using any specifically aversive approach to training or training aid, such as a prong or electronic dog training collar (also called remote dog training collar or shock collars). As for specific training programs and specialties, such as day training / doggie daycare or obedience training, you can see more information in each trainer’s profile.

Are dog training lessons in a training facility or are virtual options available?

Some dog trainers operate exclusively from a training facility, some do house calls and some offer video calls or other virtual options. There are pros and cons to each option and the most efficient behavioral training option depends on specific circumstances, for instance, what hours work best for you. A training center or training ranch can be a good option if your training plan requires facilities, training equipment or dedicated space. We recommend reaching out to the specific trainer you are interested in or browsing their website for more information.

Are dog training lessons private or in a group setting?

Every different circumstance of dog and owners may require a different setting, whether it’s housebreaking issues, anxiety issues, lack of proper socialization, food aggression or just bad habits. Each trainer has different offerings as far as whether they can offer clients a private training session or a group class. Trainers provide information about their private class and group class offerings in their profiles and you can browse their website for more information as well. It may make sense for your specific circumstance to reach out to the trainer to ask if they recommend group or private dog training classes. Some trainers also have a team of specialists that can provide even higher levels of service, or provide specialized sessions, such as pack walks.

How much does dog training in Chapel Hill cost?

Chapel Hill dog trainers have a wide range of costs for different services and phases of training. For instance behavioral modification that involves boarding is often more expensive than day training, and private lessons are generally more expensive than group lessons. Prices can also vary depending on specific behavioral issues. Lastly, some trainers have more overhead than others, We recommend first picking a trainer that provides the services that you are looking for, then reaching out to them to get up to date pricing.

Is training a dog good for the dog?

Yes! Training has many benefits for dogs. Whether with basic training skills or complex training techniques, going through behavior training with your dog can improve the bond that you share with them. Also, training can do a lot to improve the level of confidence enabling of a dog (and it can also help with building customer confidence!). Rather than being about exerting maximum control over them, it gives them more certainty that they understand how the world around them works. For instance, crate training can help a dog feel safe and at home in a crate vs fearful and uncertain. Dog training can teach important skills, such as leash control, potty training or a general level of obedience skills. And lastly, it’s just fun for the dog to learn life skills and for their family. Training can be very stimulating and enriching for a dog and serve them throughout their entire healthy life!

Can an aggressive dog be trained?

Yes! Any dog behavior can be worked on through training and coaching. Aggression in dogs is a serious issue, but it is also a term that is used very broadly. Many dogs that are thought to be aggressive are actually reactive, which is a different behavior altogether. A trainer can help you interpret signs of aggression, such as excessive barking, fear aggression and leash aggression, and type of aggression. If you believe you have a dog with aggressive behaviors, we recommend reaching out to one of your local top trainers to get their diagnosis and advice.

I am a Chapel Hill dog trainer. How can I get listed here?

As long as you have a training facility or do in person training in Chapel Hill you can be considered for this list. We update this list once per year, normally starting in January. Make sure to keep an eye on our social media and sign up for email updates with Sniffspot in order to be in the loop on the next round of nominations.

How much do dog trainers make in Chapel Hill?

Dog trainer earnings vary widely depending on many factors, such as whether a dog trainer is an employee or owns their own full-service professional dog training business. According to ZipRecruiter, the average dog trainer salary in North Carolina was $29,895 per year and $14.37 per hour. It is impossible to say how much a dog trainer can earn with a full-service professional dog training company, because the size and profitability of companies can vary widely.

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See The Best Dog Trainers In Other North Carolina Cities

Ordered alphabetically, only included cities where there is enough data to compile a list

Asheville, NC
Charlotte, NC
Concord, NC
Durham, NC
Greensboro, NC
Hickory, NC
High Point, NC
Raleigh, NC
Winston, NC

See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near North Carolina

Ordered alphabetically, only included cities where there is enough data to compile a list

South Carolina

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Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 24, 2023

Dog Trainers

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