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The Best Dog Trainers in Minnesota of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

March 29, 2022

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Minnesota Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Minnesota 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. 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 compiled 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 100% 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 Minnesota Dog Trainers in 2023

Barbara Godding

Barbara is a Karen Pryor certified training partner, CPDT-KA knowledge assessed trainer, holds memberships in the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Pet Professional Guild and she is a Canine Good Citizen evaluator. She is also a trainer for the Pets for Vets Minneapolis Chapter, which provides animals to Veterans who could benefit from having a trained companion pet.

Her company also provides training for Secondhand Hounds foster families to improve the skills of dogs in foster care to help them to prepare for their future forever homes. She also offers group classes to adopters once their adoptions have been finalized. Barb has taught group classes ranging from puppy to advanced, Canine Good Citizen prep, agility and custom private training. Her broad background and years of experience helps to get dogs and their pet parents off to a great start.

If problem behaviors arise, she guides her clients with science based positive solutions and provides custom training plans for behavior modification. She enjoys training with her 3 dogs Smash, Max and Lil' Miss. Lil' Miss loves demonstrating during class and helping pet parents and dogs to master new skills.


Services include:

  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: We offer in person obedience training that include puppy play and socialization, puppy beginner, intermediate and advanced obedience classes, Freaky fido for leash reactive dogs, canine good citizen prep and testing, one on one in home training for obedience skills and behavior modification.

Behavioral issue focus: Behavior Modification, Barking, Excessive whining, Resource guarding, Fear issues with humans/dogs, Jumping, Over Excitement, Separation anxiety, Digging, Sound phobias, Leash reactivity, Counter surfing, BAT training, Door dashing, Eliminating in the house, Vet visits, Riding in the car, Coprophagia.

Training methods: Our training methods are structured around how dogs learn. We use marker, reward based techniques and focus on setting your dog up for success. Our training plans focus on realistic goals and working in environments where your dog can process and learn.

Why I became a dog trainer: I have always had a deep connection to dogs. I love the science behind how they learn and it came naturally to me. It never gets old watching a dog learning something for the first time!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching the delite in a pet parents eyes when their dog is learning.

My #1 dog training tip: Reinforce what you want your dog to do!

Service areas: Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding suburbs


Kari Bastyr

I have been working as a professional dog trainer for 30 years, and received my Master's Degree in Animal Behavior in 1995. I specialize on dogs who have bite histories or are a bite risk, fearful and shy dogs, leash reactivity, and puppy training.

Certifications: BS and MS in Animal Behavior, CDBC, Certified Pet Nutrition Specialist, VSPDT

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

Why I became a dog trainer: It's what I went to school for.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Working with people and helping them understand their dogs.

My #1 dog training tip: Focus on what you want your dog to do rather than what you don't want them to do.

Service areas: Minneapolis and the western suburbs


Cheryl Gfrerer

I founded Giffy dog in 2012 after I had spent the previous twelve years providing foster care for rescue dogs. My passion for working with dogs in the rescue community was well-established by then, but I recognized the need to refine and improve my skills with the most current, well-researched methods.

In 2015, I completed the rigorous Karen Pryor Academy program and have pursued regular ongoing training since then, including becoming level 2 TAGteach certified and completing three Karolina Westlund programs as well as Kim Brophey's L.E.G.S. program.

Certifications: KPA-CTP, TAGteach level 2

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Specializing in fearful dogs and rescue dogs, I offer private virtual and in-person training along with occasional special topics classes in person and online.

Behavioral issue focus: I work with a range of behaviors including fear, socialization, confidence-building, anxiety, and reactivity. In addition, I help families troubleshoot other challenges, such as housetraining, destructive behaviors, leash pulling, and integrating dogs into multiple-pet homes.

Training methods: I use positive reinforcement training, pairing behaviors the family wants to see with things the dog likes to motivate them to offer those behaviors more often. If the dog exhibits behaviors the family doesn't like, we identify precursors to those behaviors and change the environment to reduce the likelihood that the dog will exhibit those behaviors going forward. We regularly work with enrichment activities to help increase the dog's confidence and problem-solving skills while decreasing destructive behaviors. Training this way leads to well-adjusted, confident dogs.

Why I became a dog trainer: I saw so many dogs struggling as they transitioned from rescue into adoptive homes, but I also recognized their resilience. I wanted to better understand how to support dogs by providing a safe, enriching environment that allowed them the engage and thrive.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love seeing dogs develop confidence and families learn how satisfying it can be to help their dogs thrive.

My #1 dog training tip: Choose simple ways to add enrichment, such as interacting with environmental features on walks.

Service areas: St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN and surrounding suburbs; Hudson and western, WI; virtual training


Candace (Candy) Brewer

I have been teaching classes and working with clients at Cloud Nine Dog Training in Maple Grove, MN and on an individual basis. I love supporting the local dog community. I am dedicated to supporting and educating families on training manners and understanding their dog's behavior so they can live harmoniously together.

Certifications: Canine Good Citizen Evaluator

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I teach approximately 9-10 classes a week including multiple obedience levels, STAR puppy, puppy socialization, senior dog enrichment, conformation, and canine good citizen.

Behavioral issue focus: I commonly see the typical house manner issues people want help with- barking, crate training, focus and attention, and environmental triggers.

Training methods: I provide individual and group training that focuses on describing the 'why' behind training and how skills can be implemented in the community, not just in a training class environment. I demonstrate how to do a skill multiple different ways so that owners can select the method that will work best for their canine companion.

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer to help spread knowledge about how to strengthen the relationship between dog and human. I want people to know that how their dog behaves is a balance of genetics and environment. Their job as the owner is to help control and develop the environment that makes it so that their dog can live a long and happy life together.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing puppies grow up and become talented dogs.

My #1 dog training tip: Animals are living beings. There are days when they won't want to do something just like humans. It doesn't mean we quit or stop trying. It means we come back at another time and give it another try.

Service areas: Northwest Metro Area (Maple Grove and surrounding area)

Holly Weldon-Yahnke

Meet Holly - Lead Trainer
Owner of Unleashed Behavior and Training Services
CPDT-KA and Certified Family Dog Mediator

Holly is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer as well as a Certified Family Dog Mediator. Her compassion for animals and desire to assist the humans on the other end of the leash are evident. She very much enjoys and continues to pursue education in the science of dog training by attending classes and seminars, and looks forward to passing that knowledge on to her clients.

Holly loves watching the relationship between dogs and their owners grow as she introduces the positive training techniques Unleashed Behavior and Training Services has to offer. She finds it incredibly fulfilling when both the owners and their dogs have fun training and learn how to effectively communicate with each other.

Certifications: CPDT-KA and C-FDM

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I instruct group classes in multiple locations, along with doing in-home meetings. I show owners how to help their puppy learn and socialize as well as instruct how to help dogs learn basic life skills. I help owners understand their dog better and understand how to build a rewarding, at both ends of the leash, relationship with them.

Behavioral issue focus: Jumping, walking on leash, puppy socialization and training, basic cues.

Training methods: I am a reward based trainer.

Why I became a dog trainer: It was life changing to meet a trainer that took the dog's wellbeing into account. It helped my relationship with my own dogs in such a fantastic way that I felt I needed to do the same for others as dogs are such an amazing gift to us.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching the dogs and their humans learn and grow with each other.

My #1 dog training tip: Know the dog in front of you, and meet their needs too.

Service areas: It includes, but is not limited to: Lakeville, Prior Lake, Burnsville, Savage, Shakopee, Jordan, Belle Plaine, Carver, Chaska, Excelsior, Victoria.


Carrie Davis

Carrie has been in the dog industry since 2008. She started off in Veterinary Technician school and worked at vet clinics. She quickly turned to the study of canine behavior, and the relationship and connection between people and dogs.
Experience obtained in those early years also included: intake supervisor for lost and stray dogs inside her county, working at a small boarding facility, and being a dog bather! Attending conferences, webinars, seminars, reading books, and one on one work with experts in the field keep Carrie up-to-date and dedicated to learning about dogs and people.
She has 10 years of experience teaching obedience, reactive rehab, focus and control, sports foundations, tricks, and so many puppy classes. The last number of years have been all 1 on 1 sessions to give each family and dog(s) the personal attention they deserve.
Carrie was the first Family Dog Mediator in the midwest and the first Licensed FDM in Minnesota. She also heads the Training Division for Licensed Family Dog Mediators around the world.

Carrie lives/lived with Australian Shepherds, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, cats, goats, rats, chickens, birds, bunnies, and a frog!

Certifications: LFDM, CPDT- KA

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: My 1 to 1 sessions focus on you, your dog(s), and your needs. Creative and fun using integrated, humane, and effective methods, I go Beyond Dog Training. My expertise is in puppy raising, adolescent behavior, new adoptions, and more severe concerns of fear, aggression, and anxiety. Get the Best for your dog with the first Licensed Family Dog Mediator in MN!

Behavioral issue focus: Anxiety, Fear, Aggression, Frustration, Hyper Active, Misunderstood Behaviors, Resource Guarding, Herding the cat and kids, Barking at the world, Jumping on everything, Dog Dog interactions, Stranger Danger, and more

Training methods: Humane and effective. Each dog and family receive their own plan, nothing is cookie-cutter here! We want you and your dog to succeed so we prioritize needs and set realistic goals that you can reach and be proud of.

Why I became a dog trainer: To improve the quality of life for both Dogs and their People. She looks to support, normalize, and give applicable and reasonable techniques and tools to the family dog owner.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: The People! Carrie loves getting to know you and your dog. She wants to bring out the best in your relationship.

My #1 dog training tip: Talk to your dog! Label and explain the world around them. Answer the questions they have about daily life!

Service areas: Minneapolis/St.Paul & Suburbs including Eagan, Inver Grove Heights


Jen Laskewitz

Jen has been lead training for the past 12 years, teaching group classes and private lessons. She also served several years as the Training Director for local dog rescue, A Rotta Love Plus. Jen has spent a lifetime living with and caring for a variety of animals, with almost 2 decades of experience working with animals in an 'official' capacity, volunteering in shelters and with rescues as well as working in animal boarding facilities, dog daycare, and large capacity animal shelters.

Certifications: CPDT-KSA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge and Skills Assessed)
FDM (Certified Family Dog Mediator)

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Small size weekly group classes for puppy socialization, basic and advanced manners, Canine Good Citizen, and reactivity
Private lessons

Behavioral issue focus: Fear, reactivity, aggression

Service areas: Minneapolis, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Bloomington, Edina, St. Louis Park, Chanhassen


Kerrie Hoar

Prior to entering the world of dog training, I received two Bachelor of Science degrees (Biology and Animal Science) and a Master of Science degree in Biology from Montana State University. For over 20 years, I taught human anatomy and physiology at the university level.

My dog training experience includes teaching in-person and virtual group classes and private in-home and virtual lessons for dogs and puppies in basic manners (obedience), aggression and reactivity. I specialize in helping dogs who exhibit fearful, anxious and aggressive behaviors.

As a certified professional trainer, I pride myself in continually expanding my knowledge of dog behavior and training techniques through attaining certifications, attending workshops and conferences, reading the latest literature and networking with colleagues to remain on the cutting edge of the science of dog behavior and learning.

Animal welfare has always been a passion of mine. I have fostered dogs, driven and coordinated rescue transports and volunteered at shelters and rescues. I currently offer free consultations to rescues and shelters and am a participating trainer in the Humane Alliance of Rescue Trainers, where I donate training sessions to help rescue dogs who are experiencing behavioral issues.

Born and raised in Montana with a menagerie of different animals, I have lived in La Crosse, Wisconsin for over 25 years. My husband and I have two grown daughters and share our home with four dogs (all of whom help out with virtual sessions and video demonstrations) and two chickens.

Master of Science Biology, Montana State University
Bachelor of Science Biology, Montana State University
Bachelor of Science Animal Science, Montana State University

Certifications and Credentials
Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
Accredited Dog Trainer (IAABC-ADT)
Licensed L.E.G.S. Applied Ethology Family Dog Mediator (LFDM)
Aggression in Dog Master Course certificate
Enrichment Framework for Behavior Modification Master Class
Fear Free Certified Professional (FFCP)
PPG Canine Training Professional
Certified Dog Bite Prevention Educator
Licensed Be A Tree Program Presenter
HART Participating Trainer
Atlas Assistance Dogs Team Facilitator in training

Professional Affiliations
Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)
International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
Fear Free Pets
Pet Professional Guild (PPG)
Humane Alliance of Rescue Trainers (HART)
Pet Industry Advocacy Innternational (PIAI)
Atlas Assistance Dogs

Certifications: M.S., CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, FFCP, LFDM-T, LFDM-L

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I work with clients in private, in-home sessions or through private virtual sessions and specialize in working with fearful dogs. I provide both coaching sessions (working with dog and guardian for all sessions) and in-home day training (where I work with the dog in the client's home and then hold weekly transfer sessions with the client to coach the guardian in the skills that we have been working on).

As a Licensed Family Dog Mediator, I work through the lens of Family Dog Mediation and the L.E.G.S framework. Rather than concentrating solely on obedience, I focus on helping clients build relationships with their dogs that are based in trust and understanding. FDMs look at how the whole dog & all of his experiences and genetics have come together to create the dog that is sitting in front of us. We use realistic goal setting, management protocols and, when necessary, teach new behaviors to create a situation that will meet both the client's goals and the dog's needs.

I offer coaching and training in the following areas:
- Fearful Dogs - especially those dogs who are performing aggressive behaviors (barking, lunging, biting) or no behaviors at all (shut down).
- Puppy training - house training, crate training, basic manners (sit, down, come, stay), and behavioral issues with chewing, mouthing and other common puppy behaviors.
- General Dog training - basic manners (sit, down, come, stay) and behavioral issues such as leash reactivity (barking, lunging), resource guarding, fence fighting, counter surfing, muzzle acclimation, cooperative care and husbandry
- I also work with clients who are working towards Canine Good Citizens, Therapy, Emotional Support or Service Dog in mastering the basic skills necessary.

Behavioral issue focus:

I specialize in working with dogs who are expressing aggressive, fearful or reactive behaviors such as;
- biting, barking, lunging in the home or on leash
- hiding or freezing
- resource guarding
- adverse reactions to strange people and dogs
- pulling on leash
- counter surfing
- issues between multiple dogs in a home
- fearful of new people, places and things
- fear or aggressive behaviors during handling, grooming and husbandry
- house training
- crate training
- muzzle, leash, collar acclimation
- not coming when called
- bolting out doors
- barrier aggression - fence fighting, growling in crates, etc.

Training methods: I work through the lens of Family Dog Mediation. Rather than concentrating solely on obedience, I focus on helping clients build relationships with their dogs that are based in trust and understanding. I look at how L.E.G.S.(the "whole" dog) have come together to create the dog sitting in front of us and then use realistic goal setting, management and enrichment protocols and, when necessary, teach new behaviors, or modify maladaptive behaviors, to create a situation that will meet both the client's goals and the dog's needs.

I am a rewards-based trainer and follow LIMA (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive) standard of practice. As a Fear Free Certified Professional do my utmost to minimize fear and never add stress, pain or anxiety to realize training goals. I do not recommend shock, prong or choke collars as a means to solve behavior problems.

All of my clients receive a training plan which includes notes, homework and additional resources after every session. Each package includes text/phone/email support between sessions, a copy of My New Puppy or My New Dog booklet, video tutorials and free access to my 90-minute Canine Body Language for Pet Parents webinar recording.

Why I became a dog trainer: Having been born and raised in the mountains of Montana, I grew up with a menagerie of farm and companion animals. I spent much of my childhood playing with dogs and teaching them various tricks. Like many of my colleagues, my foray into the world of professional dog training began with a love for working with dogs and a relationship with a reactive dog of my own. Working with a dog that reacts to people, other dogs and other sudden environmental changes pushed me to learn more about dog behavior and learning theory and to develop skills and techniques to help my own dog. I have found that I absolutely loved working with dogs who are struggling and find it extremely rewarding to help others who live with dogs who have big feelings.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: The best part of being a dog trainer is seeing a frustrated owner and a struggling dog become a strong and successful team built on mutual trust and understanding. Helping clients understand what their dog is trying to say through actions and body signals, why they are behaving they way that they are and hearing about their small successes and big wins is unbelievably reinforcing for me.

My #1 dog training tip: Teach a Find It cue. A cue that tells the dog to look for food on the floor/ground. Teach it to the point of being reflexive for both you and your dog. This can be used to move a dog, to redirect, to begin games, to get a check in, to get a dog sniffing, as a recall, etc. Basically, the Find It cue is the duct tape of dog training.

Service areas: I am based in La Crosse, Wisconsin and serve the surrounding Wisconsin, Minnesota & Iowa communities with a 50-60 mile radius. La Crosse County (e.g., La Crosse, Onalaska, West Salem, Holmen), Jackson County (e.g., Mindoro, Melrose), Buffalo County (e.g., Alma, Fountain City), Monroe County (e.g., Sparta, Tomah, Warrens, Cashton), Trempealeau County (e.g., Trempealeau, Galesville, Whitehall), Vernon County (e.g., Stoddard, Viroqua, Westby), Winona County (e.g., Winona), Houston County (e.g., Houston, Hokah, Caledonia). I serve clients all over the country with virtual training sessions.


Michelle Stelzig

I have been a certified veterinary technician for 15 years with a special interest in helping grow the human animal bond. Helping hams and dogs effectively communicate is my passion. I love seeing dogs "click" with their people.

I am currently working towards becoming certified with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, under the guidance of Inga From, CDBC, CPDT-KSA. I am always seeking to better my skills as a dog trainer and human coach.

Certifications: Certified veterinary technician

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I provided group class training for puppies to adults to help with good house manners, proper socialization, and pet obedience. I will do in home training for helping with basic house manners.

Behavioral issue focus: Counter surfing, Jumping, play biting, begging

Training methods: I am a dog trainer, not behavior consultant. Using basic learning theory and finding the right motivation for your dog I help them learn proper manners to live peacefully in a home and teach you how to more effectively communicate with your dog.

Why I became a dog trainer: To help grow the human animal bond and help keep dogs and people happy in their homes

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing a pet parent understand what their dog is saying and watching their relationship flourish

My #1 dog training tip: Don't compare you or your dog to any others! Your training journey is unique to you!

Service areas: Maple Grove, Coon Rapids, Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Plymouth


Brian Munro

Brian Munro, owner of Leaps and Hounds Behavior, has spent the last seven years providing professional guidance and support for families and their dogs in the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin. Prior to becoming the owner of Leaps and Hounds Behavior, he worked in animal shelter leadership positions, taught group classes, and provided behavior consulting services for clients. In 2021 he acquired his certification as a dog behavior consultant, and elevated his consulting work and skills to focus on aggression in dogs.

Certifications: CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, Certified Family Dog Mediator

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: We provide professional guidance and support for families and dogs- including behavior consulting (in-home and remote) and Family Dog Mediation, group training classes, puppy program, specialized programs for vet clinics and organizations, and dog walking services. Our specialty is consulting on aggression in dogs.

Behavioral issue focus: We consult on dogs displaying aggressive behavior, including human directed (child, stranger, caregiver, etc..) and dog-dog intra household; as well as those with increased fear/anxiety/stress signs, "reactivity" and/or other unhealthy or maladaptive behaviors.

Training methods: At Leaps and Hounds Behavior, we offer guidance to understand the WHYs of a dog's behavior and their needs through L.E.G.S. (Learning, Environment, Genetics, Self), a Model of Integrated Canine Science. L.E.G.S. describes the whole and unique picture of the dog in front of us. We then consider how that all may intersect with the needs of the family. Once we start to understand these aspects we can support the relationship between the family and their dog, in the spirit of Family Dog Mediation. We also follow the LIMA approach (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive), which includes a humane hierarchy of strategies and procedures for behavior intervention.

Why I became a dog trainer: I have a background in animal sheltering. I transitioned into the animal behavior industry to support families and dogs in the community. Leaps and Hounds Behavior continues along this path- our is mission to provide educational support and guidance for the community to enhance the welfare of animals through a fluent understanding of behavior.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I most enjoy learning about and understanding the WHYs of an animal's behavior through the model of LEGS (Learning, Environment, Genetics, Self)- to support the family and dog through a process of mediation.

My #1 dog training tip: It's about so much more than dog training- focus on and strengthen the communication between the family and their dog.

Service areas: Minneapolis-St Paul Area, Washington and Dakota Counties, Western Wisconsin


Brit Barnhouse

I'm certified as both a Family Dog Mediator (FDM) and Canine Enrichment Technician (DN-CET), and am working toward earning my CPDT-KA through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

I share my life with a cattledog mix named Boris (TKI) and a border collie named Winona (CGC, TKA). Some of their favorite activities include: herding, tracking, scentwork, trick training, hiking in the woods, and shredding cardboard.

Certifications:  Family Dog Mediator (FDM), Canine Enrichment Technician (DN-CET)

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: family dog mediation, enrichment, trick/obedience/task training, home manners, puppy socialization, reactive dog management/survival skills

Behavioral issue focus: Mild reactivity, socialization, boredom/frustration

Training methods: I am a positive reinforcement based trainer who follows the LIMA hierarchy, but who specifically tries to avoid or eliminate discomfort and aversive practices or tool use as much as possible.

Why I became a dog trainer: Because I love dogs, and because everyone deserves to have a good relationship with their own dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching owners and their dogs learn new skills and have fun together.

My #1 dog training tip: Forgive yourself for messing up.

Service areas: Duluth, MN


Lindsay Kinney

I always loved animals as a kid. When I got my first dog Rosie an adolescent Australian Shepherd, in 2013 I quickly fell in love with dog training. We pursued obedience, tricks, and sports. We even did some film and commercial work. In 2015 I became a dog trainer at PetSmart to gain experience teaching group classes and working with a variety of dogs.

In 2016 I became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed. In 2017 I began working at my dream company Paws Abilities Dog Training. I have previously worked in group homes, retirement homes, and special education classrooms. When not training dogs I can be found hiking, kayaking, or swing dancing. I currently live with two clicker trained cats Obi-wan Catnobi and Eevee as well as my cavalier terrier mix Mooch.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I teach classes on obedience, reactive rehabilitation, self control, canine good citizen prep, and handling. I also do fun relationship building classes on tricks, dog sport foundations, boredom busters, outdoor adventures, scent work, senior dog enrichment, rally, and more! I do Puppy Camp where families drop puppies off at our facility one day a week to work with professional trainers on socialization and training. I also offer day training where I train the dog in home 3 days a week.

Behavioral issue focus: I commonly help dogs work through reactivity, fearfulness, and over excitement. I also help help dogs become more comfortable with handling, nail trims, and vet visits

Training methods: I primarily teach group classes. I use reward based methods to help motivate dogs and their families to work together. We use food, toys, play, life rewards, and whatever the dog is motivated by to build strong behaviors.

Why I became a dog trainer: I fell in love with the science and art of communicating with animals. It's beautiful how you and the dog build something together

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love helping people find joy in working with their dogs. My clients often tell me how impressed they are by how quickly their dog picks up the training.

My #1 dog training tip: Train the dog you want to live with

Service areas: Twin Cities


Nickala Squire

Obsessed with all things dog, I'm here to help you and your dog succeed.


CTC (Jean Donaldson's Academy for Dog Trainers)
FFCP (Fear Free Certified Professional)
Completed Michael Shikashio's Aggression in Dogs Mastercourse

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: In home training for obedience, manners, fear/anxiety, reactivity, aggressive behavior, day training for manners and obedience, day school programs for puppies and adolescents.

Behavioral issue focus: Fearful, anxious, reactive or aggressive behavior.

Training methods: I exclusively use rewards based methods which adhere to the AVSAB position statement on humane training. Typically through private consultations, with follow up training done in home or in public areas as applicable.

Why I became a dog trainer: To help bridge the communication gap between people and their dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching a dog realize they can communicate and affect change in my behavior as a result of their actions, free from fear of making mistakes.

My #1 dog training tip: Use food! If something about using food isn't working or isn't safe, we troubleshoot. It's the easiest and most efficient reinforcer available, and all dogs must eat.

Service areas: Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Fisher


Sara Reusche

Sara Reusche, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA, CVT, AKC CGC and Trick Evaluator, UKC SPOT Evaluator (she/her) purchased Paws Abilities in 2010 after working for the business since 2004. She has turned her love of animals and teaching into a career and is dual certified as a veterinary technician and professional dog trainer. In addition to training, Sara has worked as a groomer, vet tech, dog daycare attendant, breeder, and animal shelter caretaker and trainer.

Sara's blog posts generate thousands of visitors from all over the world. She has contributed to the APDT Chronicle of the Dog and was the 2008 John Fisher Scholarship award winner for her article 'Lessons from Layla'.

Sara lives with four mixed breed dogs, Pantalaimon, Iskierka, the Morrigan, and Iroh. Sara's dogs have competed in agility, rally obedience, competition obedience, disc, lure coursing, canine freestyle, and k9 nose work. Pan also works as a model for many companies, including Target and Publisher's Clearinghouse. Sara frequently fosters dogs for rescue organizations as well. When she's not working with dogs, Sara enjoys reading, listening to audiobooks, building puzzles, and staying up too late.

Sara is a member of the following professional organizations: AKC, APDT, CCPDT, IAABC, NACSW, SVBT.



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: Paws Abilities Dog Training helps people enjoy their dogs! We offer everything from puppy socialization to competitive sports to problem solving for serious behavioral issues.

Behavioral issue focus: Paws Abilities works with behavioral issues of all sorts, from serious aggression to fears and phobias to new puppy issues. We take a team-centered approach, working closely with pet parents, veterinary staff, and other members of your dog's support team (groomers, daycare, walkers, etc.) to provide lasting, effective behavior change.

Training methods: We're reward-based trainers who believe in using the kindness, most effective, and most pragmatic approach possible in each case. We focus on meeting the needs of both ends of the leash and helping dogs and their humans have a fulfilled, happy life together.

Why I became a dog trainer: I adopted a dog who needed a lot of professional help to live in our suburban world comfortably, and training opened my eyes to the incredible difference that training can make in the lives of people and animals. I've had many careers in the animal world over the past 2+ decades, but training truly holds my heart as the best way to connect with dogs and the people who love them.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love seeing people fall even more deeply in love with their dogs. Helping people enjoy their dogs is what it's all about!

My #1 dog training tip: Remember that your dog is doing their best with the training you've given them, the environment they grew up in, and the genetics they were born with. If either of you is struggling, don't be afraid to reach out for help!


Reiichi Hanson

My name is Rei (pronounced "ray", and my full name is pronounced "ray-ee-chee") and I live just south of the Twin Cities. My animals include: Betelgeuse the Australian Shepherd, who is my Service Dog and my best friend. We do Obedience, Rally, and Treibball! And Tootsie the African Senegal Parrot, who is a rescue from The Parrot's Umbrella. She is learning cooperative care for nail trims and more. I also live with my partner's cat, and their golden retriever.

Certifications: IAABC-ADT, CCDT

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I teach group classes, virtual classes, private lessons, in-home day training working with your dog directly (Canine to Five), and Puppy Camp daycare/training. I can help with everything from puppy raising & obedience to behavior problem-solving & service dog owner-trainers!

Behavioral issue focus: I teach group classes & virtual classes on obedience, puppy socialization, family dog manners, Canine Good Citizen, and sports. I do private lessons and day training for behavior problem-solving such as responding to cues, potty training, aggression, reactivity, barking, fear, and just helping people enjoy their dogs!

I also have experience with parrots, and I am looking to expand my services to parrot owners who need support with enrichment, training to help parrots enjoy husbandry and medical care, fear/phobias, and aggression.

Training methods: I will meet you where you're at! Everyone comes from their own unique background-- humans and dogs alike. Most services start with getting to know you and your goals. I'll share my assessment or impression of your dog(s), and we'll collaborate on a training plan together! I understand that my clients are real people with real lives, and I want to find solutions that fit your lifestyle.

My priority is always for the welfare of animals. It takes a village to raise & care for a dog. When dogs are happy, their needs are met, and they are provided with the tools necessary to thrive in the modern day, training becomes much easier.

Why I became a dog trainer: Because a trainer changed my life! I was really struggling as a teenager, and it was suggested to me to look into getting a Service Dog. I hired Laska Parrow (who is a nominated trainer in Florida this year!) to evaluate my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for suitability as an Assistance Dog. Winston allowed me to finish school and gain my independence. I have always enjoyed learning about animal behavior and training, and I love helping people connect with their pets. The results benefit more than just the dogs.

I am passionate about equity and inclusivity in my work. I want to remove barriers that deter BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled people from the world of positive reinforcement training.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Learning! I am constantly learning from my clients and their dogs, my talented colleagues & mentors, other animal professionals in the veterinary, shelter, zoological, and conservation fields... There's always something new to discover.

My #1 dog training tip: Discover how to play with your dog! Whether it's tug, fetch, clicker training games, walks/exploring, sports, snuggling up on the couch, solving puzzle toys, or sharing treats, discover all of your dog's favorite things in life!! Whenever you need to teach your dog an important behavior or skill, use their favorite things to motivate them, and be very generous about it.

Service areas: Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs


Jennifer Wilmes

Jennifer has been a Certified Professional Dog Trainer since 2015 as well as managed her own positive reinforcement training business. She became Certified Behavior Consultant Canine and Fear Free Certified in 2018. She is a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and a Supporting Member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She has a passion for learning about each animal's style of learning, then passing on training skills to their humans. Her goal is to create a fun and trusting relationship while implementing behavior modification techniques. During her off hours, she enjoys time with her husband, son, two dogs, two bearded dragons and will engage in almost any outdoor activity.

Certifications: CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, Approved Evaluator for American Kennel Club – Canine Good Citizen test

Service areas: SW Metro, MN


Ryleigh Mars

From luring her childhood dog over jumps in the backyard, to raising litters of puppies for law enforcement, to competing in Schutzhund (now known as IGP), Ryleigh has been training dogs from the moment she could walk. Having a special interest in learning and behavior led Ryleigh to an endless pursuit of knowledge in the field, and how it applies not just to dogs, but people as well.

A graduate of The Tom Rose School, member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, student of the Karen Pryor Academy, repeat student at The Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers, and many more; Ryleigh is more than qualified to help dogs and their owners.

Following her study of neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, Ryleigh discovered that her dog Orion had a visual condition known as strabismus. This misalignment of his eyes causes him to misjudge distances when jumping, yet have excellent judgment up close. This unfortunately affected, and ultimately ended, his competitive agility career.

When Orion was bred, Ryleigh traveled to Minnesota from Colorado to assist a human optometrist with examining his puppy's eyes. This experience inspired her to relocate all the way to Minnesota to pursue a career in vision therapy. Through her work as a vision therapist, Ryleigh gained an extraordinary perspective of learning, while nurturing communication with people of all ages. Her work as a therapist brings a truly unique angle of problem solving to both her students and fellow dog trainers.

Ryleigh's passion for training dogs extends to her love of introducing people to the incredible science of learning, and how it can improve the lives of their dogs, themselves, and everyone they interact with. She especially has a soft spot for introducing children to dog sports, watching them grow into responsible, confident, and capable handlers.

Certifications: A graduate of The Tom Rose School, member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Service areas: St.Cloud, MN


Ashlee Meyer

I have been a professional dog trainer for 4 years now and it started the same way everyone gets into dog training - with a dog who needed help. After going through multiple certifications and working with numerous dogs and people, I found my niche in helping families navigate the twists and turns of having a dog and child.

From preparing for a child coming into a home to a dog struggling with a mobile child to helping a family find the perfect match, I strive to make sure every child stays safe and has the best experience possible growing up with a dog.

I am currently the guardian of two bully breed mixes, Adam and Bailey, and am a mom to an almost 2-year-old toddler.



Services include:

  • In home training

More info about service provided:

In-home obedience training - basic cues, leash manners
Kid-Dog conflict resolutions - baby and dog, toddler and dog, adding a dog to a family

Behavioral issue focus:

Kid-Dog Conflict: fear of children, over-excitement around children, helping children learn appropriate interactions with dogs, helping dogs transition to a new baby, helping dogs cope with the milestones of children from rolling over to toddlerhood
Basic Cues: helping families create a system of communication for a better quality of life for both humans and dogs
Leash Manners: minor reactivity, over-excitement, pulling, focus; giving humans the skills, tools, and knowledge to make walks enjoyable

Training methods: I meet with families in their home and gather relevant history to get a full picture of the life the dog lives. I then work with families to create goals and use positive reinforcement techniques to help the dog and humans learn together.

Why I became a dog trainer: I fell in love with dog psychology and behavior after adopting my dog Adam. Diving into all the reading, watching, and learning, I knew working with dogs was my true passion. Beyond that, I love people. I love seeing the connections made during training sessions, the bond between them and their dogs grow, and the sheer joy on people's faces when their dog "gets it". Helping people understand their dogs more and giving both dogs and people a better quality of life is the reason I love my job.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part of being a dog trainer is the ability to help dogs and people live better lives together.

My #1 dog training tip: Let your dog be a dog. Yes, your dog needs to be able to be civilized in the human world, but also they need time to exercise their true nature as well.

Service areas: Dakota County
South Minneapolis


Denise Nord

Denise has been training and competing with dogs for over 25 years. She has competed in obedience with multiple dogs. She has been teaching puppy classes for over 20 years. Her obedience and puppy classes are based on proven positive training methods. Denise also trains and competes in agility, nosework, lure coursing, tracking, conformation and rally.

Services include:

  • Protection/guard dog training
  • Reactive dog training


Jane Fallander

I have been a professional dog trainer for 15 years and a hobby trainer for 40. In my 20s I worked at an animal shelter for 9 years and love rescue dogs. My formal education includes a BS in Animal Science and Technical Communication. I'm also a Karen Prior Certified Dog Trainer and have been teaching K9 nosework for 13 years.

Certifications: KPA-CTP, ANWI

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I teach K9 Nosework classes and provide 1:1 training for general training and behavior issues.

Behavioral issue focus: I work with reactivity, aggression, manners issues, and so on.

Training methods: I use LIMA (least intrusive, minimally aversion) training methods.

Why I became a dog trainer: I love dogs (of course!) and enjoy preserving and promoting the human/animal bond.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching dogs and their owners grow together as a team.

My #1 dog training tip: You are training your dog with every interaction, so look for ways to manage (prevent) undesirable behaviors while rewarding the behaviors you like.

Service areas: Twin cities metro


Kelsey Smedley

My name is Kelsey and I own The Good Dog Co.

My goal is to educate other pet parents and give them the tools and knowledge that they need to live a happy, calm life with their dogs. Whatever your behavioral issue is, there is a solution for it as long as you are willing to do the work.

I have a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Missouri and certifications CACTP and CCTBS from the Animal Behavior Institute.


Certified Advanced Canine Training Professional (CACTP)
Certified Canine Training and Behavior Specialist (CCTBS)

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: We offer puppy and obedience classes, taught at Lakeville Family Pet Clinic.
We offer Board and Train for any puppy under 6 months old.
We offer in-home training for a wide range of behavioral concerns, such as fear/anxiety, aggression, and reactivity.
All of our training is positive reinforcement and we don't condone the use of aversive training methods.

Behavioral issue focus: Most of my experience is with dogs with fear, anxiety, and aggression, mostly towards people rather than dogs. However, we also take on dog aggression cases, but may refer some of those out to other trainers, depending on the severity.

Training methods: For each new client, training begins with a consultation that lasts about 60-90 minutes. Each training session after that is 60 minutes. Each training session is 3-4 weeks apart to give them time to work on what is discussed. After each session, the client will receive a training plan and detailed summary of how to continue the training.

Why I became a dog trainer: I imagine my story is rather similar to a lot of other dog trainers out there. My first dog was a rescue and struggled a lot with reactivity, fear, and aggression towards people. I tried googling and training him myself with little success. It was because of him that I went to school to find out how to properly help him live a happier life. He is doing great now and I would like to help others with this same struggle.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part of my job is seeing small changes in routine and lifestyle make a huge difference in a dog's behavior. There seems to be a misconception that one has to have unlimited free time when it comes to training a dog, but it's really about making small changes and being consistent that can cause the changes we are looking for.

My #1 dog training tip: Every dog is lacking mental enrichment. Make their lives more dog-specific and you will see a world of difference.

Service areas: Minneapolis
Apple Valley
St. Paul
Eden Prairie


Sniffspot Minnesota Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Minnesota dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Minnesota 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 Minnesota 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 Minnesota?

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 Minnesota 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 Minnesota cost?

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

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

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 Minnesota was $29,912 per year and $14.38 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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Merlin Noble

March 29, 2022

Dog Trainers

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