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The Best Dog Trainers in Columbus, OH of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 25, 2023

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Columbus, OH Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Columbus 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 Ohio 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 Columbus, OH Dog Trainers in 2023

Sarah Dugger

I first realized the power and impact of training in 2012. At the time, I was working at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, observing Wouter Stellaard, a world-renowned animal trainer, train rats to complete an obstacle course. The five rats all named after different types of cheese took the stage together. Four scurried around a pool, while one swam across, using the shortcut to get to the end faster.

Watching the training process, and listening to the dialogue that occurred after every session, sparked a lifelong passion for the science of behavior. It was my lightbulb moment.

Hi, my name is Sarah Duggar, owner of Good Dog & Co.,an animal trainer that applies the art and science of positive reinforcement to improve animal welfare, teach confidence in a variety of conditions, reinforce your bond with your pet, and equip your pet with the necessary skills for achieving a well-adjusted relationship with you, their human, and the world around them.

I have more than a decade of experience studying the behavior of animals, and applying science-backed methods to most effectively and compassionately train them. Some highlights of my career which has taken me from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to the Denver Zoo to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs include working with tigers (my favorite animal), starting programs for animals with no history of positive-reinforcement training, being chosen to present at The Animal Behavior Management Alliance conference, and continuing to learn from experts in the field, like Stellaard, Steve Martin, and Dr. Susan Friedman.

Over the years, I've trained loose-leash walking with warthogs, targeted a serval to jump 12 feet in the air, crate-trained a groundhog, and taught penguins to heel seriously. I've become fluent in the language of all animals (just call me a modern-day Dr. Dolittle), and now I bring that education and experience to train the animals we interact with most on a daily basis: our family pets. Whether you want to walk your dog without being pulled, stop your cat from urinating outside the litter box, or teach your parrot to step on your hand without biting, I work with you and your pet to meet your behavioral goals.

When an animal realizes their behavior matters and they're happy about it the best, most heartwarming part about being an animal trainer, in my opinion that's where change happens. Through our training sessions, you'll get an up-close look at how small wins stack up to a lifetime of success and a fulfilling relationship with your furry (or feathery or scaly!) best friend.

Education, Certifications, and Achievements:

 Bachelor of Science in Zoology, Ohio State University, 2014

 Certificate of Excellence, Dr. Susan Friedman's Living and Learning with Animals: The Fundamental Principles and Procedures of Teaching and Learning, 2015

 Presenter, 'Choice-Based Training Improves Animal Welfare and Program Participation in Ambassador Animals,' The Animal Behavior Management Alliance Conference, 2017

 Certified Training Partner, Karen Pryor Academy's Professional Dog Training Program, 2021

 Featured on The Animal Behavior Management Alliance's Facebook page for Behavior Month Cooperative Care Week

 Continuing education with experts in the field through Clicker Expo, Living and Learning with Animals Auditor, NEI Tec Talks, and more.

Certifications: Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP)

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Day Training, Coaching (Virtual and In-Home), & Pet Au Pair Service (Pet sitting + Training combo): Confidence building, establishing and strengthening cues, cooperative care (vet, groomer, nail trims, bathing, crate training, etc.), replacing problem behaviors with alternate behaviors, bond strengthening between pet parent and pet, introducing new pets to the home, and more.

Behavioral issue focus: Pulling on the leash, barking, avoidance behaviors, separation distress, issues between pets in multi-pet households, biting, scratching, anxiety during handling, ignoring cues, urinating or defecating in inappropriate spaces

Training methods: Begin with a consultation to assess medical history, learning history, and the conditions surrounding behaviors through a Behavior Analysis lens. Establish short term and longterm goals before creating a training plan for the individual animal. With an individualized training package, we will practice two-way communication with the animal during positive reinforcement training sessions to shape skills and cues. In addition to training, we will incorporate thoughtful environment arrangement to manage behavior problems.

Why I became a dog trainer: I recognized a need in the pet owner community for ethical, positive, and skillful trainers. In my "zoo bubble" I was surrounded by the best of the best trainers, but in our everyday society, there is an overwhelming amount of traditional and behavior-suppressing methods. I feel motivated to show people that there is a better way, and that we can get results that leave both the pet parent and the pet happier and more bonded.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Witnessing my clients have success with their pet

My #1 dog training tip: In order to be a dog trainer, you must also be a dog listener. Learn how to speak their language by observing their body language, and then you can build towards two-way communication.

Service areas: Dublin, Worthington, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Grove City, Westerville, Gahanna, New Albany


Alex Eaton

My name is Alex Eaton and I started Out of This World Dog Training to offer the people and pets of Central Ohio an exciting and effective method of training. I am a certified professional dog trainer. I received my certification through Animal Behavior College and graduated with honors. I have also helped train service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence. I have spent time volunteering at Franklin County Dog Shelter as well as being a consultant for other dog trainers in the area. When necessary I consult with local veterinarians to make sure that my methods, nutritional information and medical advice are 100% up to date and correct. I take your pet’s health and well-being as seriously as humanly possible!

I believe that owning a pet is an amazing and rewarding experience, but also a responsibility, not a luxury. Training your dog properly will lead you to a greater understanding of the animal and I firmly believe in the owner-pet relationship being one of mutual understanding and respect. I immerse you fully in the training process and use dog psychology to more effectively teach your dog. I find that owners end up learning as much, if not more, than their pets. Contact me to find out more about my unique approach to training.

Certifications: Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT)

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Basic-Advanced obedience training, group obedience, group walking, puppy socialization and obedience training, in home training, aggressive/reactivity training, off leash training, house breaking, crate training, leash walking, canine good citizen, star puppy, therapy dog classes, day training, board and train

Behavioral issue focus: We use positive reinforcement to address behaviors ranging from puppy nipping to adult dog aggression.

Training methods: We do a short in home evaluation at the beginning of the first lesson to develop a training plan. We then use reward based training to improve communication and focus skills. We continue from there by increasing distractions until the behavior has improved/resolved.

Why I became a dog trainer: I always feel my most invigorated when working with dogs. It is such a great feeling to see a human and their dog truly connect.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing the joy a well behaved dog can bring to a family

My #1 dog training tip: Communication is key! Your dog doesn't know English so you will need to teach them!

Service areas: Columbus, Worthington, Dublin, New Albany, Westerville, Upper Arlington, Hilliard, Lewis Center


Elissa O'Sullivan

Private practice since 1993.

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: 100% force-free training from puppy class to pet basics, to high level competition obedience

Behavioral issue focus: 100% force-free behavior modification for any issues.

Training methods: Force-free, least invasive

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing progress

My #1 dog training tip: Your dog is your partner, not your slave.

Service areas: In-home visits: Columbus, Gahanna, Westerville, Upper Arlington, Dublin, Powell, Pataskala, New Albany, Worthington, Bexley, Delaware, Marysville


Sniffspot Columbus Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Columbus dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Columbus 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 Columbus 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 Columbus?

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 Columbus 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 Columbus cost?

Columbus 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 Columbus dog trainer. How can I get listed here?

As long as you have a training facility or do in person training in Columbus 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 Columbus?

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 Ohio was $29,660 per year and $14.26 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 Ohio Cities

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

Akron, OH
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Dayton, OH
Toledo, OH

See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near Ohio

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


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Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 25, 2023

Dog Trainers

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