Welcome to the Nashville, TN Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Nashville 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 Tennessee 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.
Kym Iffert began her work with dogs and cats after adopting a dog from a rural Indiana shelter that, unknowingly, required extensive physical and behavioral rehabilitation. In 2005, Kym received her initial training certification from Animal Behavior College and started working with a Chicago-based animal shelter as a volunteer as well as running a variety of training classes and family outreach programs. She eventually became the Director of Shelter Operations.
With the ultimate goal of helping people help the animals in their care, Kym continues to pursue education, create awareness and offer support for families and animal caregivers by providing affordable, manageable, accessible, and equitable behavior consulting. She is the Training Program Coordinator for Agape Animal Rescue's Community Canine Coaching Program and is currently involved with Maddie's Fund Behavioral Support Group, Human Animal Support Services, and the Nashville Safe Coalition networks to contribute resources to pet families, rescue organizations and overcrowded animal intake facilities.
She is certified through the Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers, as a Licensed Family Dog Mediator (shelter, training and kids divisions), Fear Free Training Professionals, Sophia Yin's Low Stress Handling University and as a Humane Educator through the Association of Animal Welfare Administrators. Kym has completed specialized, ongoing coursework as a Family Paws Parent Educator, completed Michael Shikasio's Aggressive Dog Training Master Course and is continuing coursework through the IAABC with a focus on animal behavior consulting.
Kym is the mother of three grown daughters and currently lives with her husband and two rescue dogs, Stanley and Dover, in Nashville, TN
Certifications: CPDT-ka, LFDM-stk, FPPE, APHE, Fear Free Training Professional, ABC-CDT, Low Stress Handling - silver certification, Fear Free Shelter
More info about service provided: Behavior workshops, In-home support, Accessible/affordable resources for underserved communities, shelter/rescue/foster support, post-adoption support, puppy social, day training, family management support
Behavioral issue focus: Dog-dog reactivity, providing enrichment & de-escalation training, "family dog" management, child & dog safety, loose leash walking workshops, teaching foundation behaviors, focus on working with dogs who have experienced trauma - fearful & anxiety-based behaviors
Training methods: All clients begin by completing a form to identify needs/behaviors that are affecting dog & family. Consultation happens (in home or virtual) to assess the dog's behavior/history/environment/family needs. This is followed by a work session in which we can create a training plan to move forward. Focus is always on LIMA principals and begins with the 5 Domains of Animal Welfare. Learning is achieved through reward-based motivation (play, interaction/attention, food...whatever the dog seeks out) and natural consequences.
Why I became a dog trainer: I adopted a dog from a shelter that had a multitude of physical and behavioral concerns. As a family, we had to make some very challenging decisions about her welfare and her future. I became a dog trainer to learn more about how to help other dogs and families navigate behaviors and challenges in a safe, humane and non-judgmental environment.
My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing when people understand why their dog performs certain behaviors and understand the dog's needs, when they learn how to communicate and work WITH the dog to live a cohesive life together. I LOVE to see the change in a dog when these things happen!
My #1 dog training tip: Understand WHY your dog behaves the way it does, and find a common ground to meet the needs of the entire family.
Service areas: Davidson County, Middle TN
Heather Moore has 20 years of experience training dogs and helping owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors. She worked with Purely Positive Dog Training in Charleston, SC until recently relocating to TN. She has been a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Her own dogs have titled in AKC Rally Obedience Novice and Advanced, and earned Therapy Dog Certifications. She is an evaluator for the Canine Good Citizen Test for the AKC. She also has seven years experience as a teacher of elementary age children. This combination of skills led her to co-found the first Kids and Dogs Camp in Charleston, SC, as well as the first training class for kids and their pet dogs in that area.
Since living in Tennessee, she has spent many hours volunteering at a local shelter helping them assess dogs and promoting them on Facebook. She has established a training program and trained staff on how to make a dog more adoptable by using positive training. She frequently offers programs for the public teaching how to train shelter dogs.
Heather is currently responsible for all dangerous dogs and potentially dangerous dog court cases in Rutherford County. Residents must complete training with her to help their dog improve their behavior.
Heather also helps several local rescue groups. She loves match making and finding the perfect dog for your family. As a mother of two young boys, Heather has a practical and friendly approach towards training the family dog. Her methodology focuses on leadership, structure, and positive reinforcement. All training is gentle and humane, while also being user-friendly and efficient. Heather, her husband Lance, and sons Parker and Wyatt, share their home with 1 border collie, 1 cat, 7 chickens, 2 horses, and her son's pet lizard.
Certifications: CPDT-KA, CGC evaluator
More info about service provided: We offer group classes such as Puppy Preschool, Kinderpuppy, Just the Basics, Basics Advanced, Canine Good Citizen, Adventures Off Leash, Sniffology, Canine Acting And Tricks, Loose Leash Walking Class, Private lessons, Day training, Camp Wag is our board and train program, Sit and Play is our puppy drop off program. We offer a program for any age dog and can teach basic cues, help solve problem behaviors, and work with dogs that show aggression or reactivity.
Behavioral issue focus: We offer a Reactive Rover class for reactive dogs or offer private lessons.
Training methods: I am a positive trainer and use positive methods ONLY. I do not use shock collars, e-collars, choke chains, prong collars, etc. As for my process, it is different for every dog. I use what motivates your dog and we come up with a behavior plan to fit your dogs needs.
Why I became a dog trainer: I brought home a 6 month old yellow lab puppy who did not like people or other dogs so I went to class. I fell in love with training and wanted to be able to help people with their dogs like my trainer helped me with my puppy!
My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Puppies!
My #1 dog training tip: Telling your dog "no" doesn't tell them much. It tells them you are not happy with them but does not tell them what to do instead. Teach your dog a cue that will tell them what you want them to do such as "off" rather than "no."
Service areas: Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Rutherford County, Christiana, Rockvale
I am a full-time trainer with Instinct Nashville, recently transitioning from working with clients in-home to only working with those enrolled in our camp + coaching program at our facility in Goodlettsville, TN.
I became a Certified Training Partner of the Karen Pryor Academy (KPA CTP) in 2017 and also received a certificate in Applied Animal Behavior through University of Washington in 2021 (UW AAB). I try to attend as many webinars, seminars, workshops & conferences I can budget with my money and time annually and am enthusiastic about continuing education.
Prior to training, I managed and worked for a number of dog daycare & boarding facilities for 12 years across Nashville, Chicago, Tampa & St. Pete.
When I'm not working, you'll likely find me in nature with my own dogs & fiance. Hiking, kayaking & camping are our go-to activities and we are always searching for tasty local eats and a good thrift or antique store to peruse.
Currently, I live with 3 dogs. Ichabod Dane, a now, 10 year old (!) Great Dane, Rosie, who is a 7 year old bully mix & Lucy, a 5 year old pitty/boston terrier mix.
Certifications: KPA CTP, UW AAB
More info about service provided: I personally work with our camp + coaching program (board & train) in Goodlettsville and virtually (when time allows). Luckily, Instinct Nashville has several trainers and behavior consultants on our team and together we offer these services in addition to home school (day train) & private in-home coaching to accommodate a variety of goals, behaviors & budgets.
Behavioral issue focus: At camp, we help dogs decompress from their daily stressors and help them learn new skills to enhance their day to day lives . Labels aren't my favorite thing, but for the sake of easier explanation, we may be able to help dogs who experience anxiety, reactivity or aggression towards people and/or other dogs, in addition to those who may be new to learning and could benefit from learning a few new skills. If our camp program is not a good fit, we will always be transparent about that and refer you to a service that will be a better investment.
Training methods: All of our trainers, including myself, are advocates of humane and progressive training methods. This means that we are using a rewards-based and preventative, proactive approach to teaching and behavior change. You can expect to see your trainers using food, toys, access to the environment, play, pets & praise to teach new behaviors and prioritizing meeting both the dog's and the human's needs throughout the learning journey by creating and helping facilitate customized training plans.
Why I became a dog trainer: When I worked at dog daycares we had dogs attend who hosted a variety of labeled "behavior problems". Daycare seemed to slap a nice bandaid on a good chunk of those dogs to some degree but it wasn't fulfilling and I wanted to be more involved in solving the "why" and "how" behind these problems. I connected with my still mentor, Ayelet with Sabra Dog Training (now w/ Instinct) and she helped lead the way!
My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I like helping people and dogs live better lives together. Helping humans understand how dogs communicate and thrive is pricless.
My #1 dog training tip: reward your dog.
Service areas: Davidson Co, Williamson Co, Wilson Co
Kristi Kay May is the owner and founder of Legend Acres Dog and and Horse Solutions and Legend's Heroes Service Dog Training Program.
Originally from Port Home, Michigan, a place where the dairy cows outnumber people. Kristi got her first horse around the age of six. She grew up in the world of horse shows and competitions.
After joining the Army, Kristi put her passion for horses on hold until she was able to purchase a farm outside o Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
While living here, Kristi saw a need in the local community for affordable dog boarding, this is where Legend Acres Boarding was Born. With her life long passion for animals and a unique need to find an income source that fit into her post military life she new this was a perfect choice. From this, Kristi launched Legend Acres Dog and Horse Solutions as well as Legend's Heroes Service Dog Training Program.
MS, CVPM, LVMT, BSA, AHT, ABCDT, CHA Cert Riding Lesson Instructor, CHA
EFM, Cert Equine Nutrition, Cert Animal Cognitive Behavior, AKC Evaluator, AKC Fit Instructor, Pet Partners Therapy Evaluator and Instructor, PPG Professional Canine Instructor
More info about service provided: Legend Acres Dog and Horse Solutions is an Award-Winning Unique Veteran Owned business offering Affordable Kind-Evidence Based Professional Training and Lesson Services in packages to fit any budget! Legend Acres offers Private In-Home, Group, and Board and Train Dog Training, Behavior Modification, Trick Classes, Therapy Dog, and Service Dog Training across the United States in our online live interactive sessions and in person with one of our many assistant instructors. Legend Acres offers training for all ages and breeds. Registration is open for Online and In person Group Classes! Now offering Board and Train! Learn more and schedule your free behavior consult at https://www.legend-acres.com/links or 931-516-3064 (text or call) Legend Acres for all your pet training needs!!!!
Behavioral issue focus: All Breeds, Leash Reactivity, Barking, Anxious Dogs, Puppy's, all ages, Adult dogs, Dog reactivity, Therapy Dog Training and Certification, Service Dog Training and Public Access Testing, AKC Testing
Training methods: Free Behavior Consults, Fundamentals, Intermediate, Advanced, Urban, Pet Therapy Prep Course, Puppy Socialization Class, Public Access Test, Novice Trick Classes and Workshops, Scent Workshops, AKC Fit Workshops and Classes, Agility Workshops and Classes, Rally Classes, Behavior Modification Classes and Workshops. Force Free, Fear Free, Positive Reinforcement
Why I became a dog trainer: Lack of Resources in our area in the Veterinary World
My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Facilitating the Animal-Human Bond
My #1 dog training tip: It is never too late to start training!!!!
Service areas: Valley wide Phoenix, Clarksville TN, Remote World Wide
I became passionate about dog training in 2001 as an owner of a dog-reactive dog. I was searching for a mentor to help me and my dog build a better relationship with each other, and the world around us. My mentor walked me through the science behind dog training, and together, we overcame the fear-based reactivity in my own dog. I was inspired by the positive reinforcement techniques I had learned and wanted to give others the gift of effective, force-free dog training.
I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, as well as a member of the Pet Professional Guild (member number 48310054.) I'm always pursuing further education to help me work with dogs in a way that will not cause fear. I hold a certificate in Applied Animal Behavior through the University of Washington, and I am an AKC CGC and Trick Dog Evaluator.
Certifications: CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, UW-AAB, FDM, CTDI, Fear Free Certification
More info about service provided: Under 16 weeks puppy socialization and parent education, group classes for puppies and adults with basic manners up to CGC prep, reactivity, overstimulation, resource guarding, loose leash walking, overnight stay & train in client home, overnight board & train at training center, in-home day training.
Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, resource guarding, basic manners, fearful/lacking confidence, overstimulation, under socialization.
Training methods: All training is force free and fear free. We do NOT use any aversive tools.
Why I became a dog trainer: My dog had reactivity issues with other dogs. When I saw how dog training with a force free approach could help my dog feel better, I decided to pursue dog training.
My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing the happiness of both the dog and its carer when things click and they both experience a closer bond.
My #1 dog training tip: Practice success. If your dog fails and you continue to practice where he can't succeed, you will only teach your dog failure. If your dog cannot perform the behavior you're asking for, make it easier so he can succeed. Practice that success and take tiny steps forward to make progress.
Service areas: Nashville and surrounding areas, Mt. Juliet and surrounding areas.
A welfare-centered animal trainer with Instinct Nashville, focusing on life-skills, reactivity and cooperative care. She works with clients on adult dog manners, puppy development, and behavior issues including fear and anxiety. Katie is a Fear Free Certified training professional (FFCP) and Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP)
with years of experience reducing fear, anxiety, and stress in a wide range of scenarios. Katie has co-built training and daycare programs around Nashville, worked at the Nashville Zoo, and worked as the Behavioral Lead at the Nashville Humane Association. She loves helping her clients improve their dogs' behavior issues while also improving their welfare and relationship.
Certifications: KPA CTP, FFCP
More info about service provided: In-home coaching and homeschool (day training) sessions working on general training and behavior modification.
Behavioral issue focus: Puppy and adolescent training, reactivity, leash training, separation related distress, resource guarding, crate training, jumping, door dashing, and developing other life skills.
Training methods: Science-backed, welfare-centered training, including in-home consultations and life-long training plans.
Why I became a dog trainer: Growing up on a farm, I've been passionate about animal welfare for as long as I can remember. I started working with behavior cases at Nashville Humane Association 5 years ago, and became increasingly passionate about behavior keeping dogs out of shelters, and fighting for regulations in animal training.
My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Working with dogs changed my life - being able to connect with animals and their people every day, and create lasting impressions on their lives and welfare, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.
My #1 dog training tip: A behavior that is reinforced is a behavior that is repeated, reward your dogs! :)
Service areas: Nashville
Ayelet is co-owner and President at Instinct Nashville. She is also Director of People and Culture, because positive reinforcement is needed on both ends of the leash. She works with clients on a wide range of behavior goals and her passion is working with dogs experiencing fear and anxiety. Ayelet is co-Founder of Force Free Tennessee, a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Family Paws Licensed Educator, Fear Free Certified Trainer, and a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner.
Ayelet has taught group classes at Davidson County Male Correctional Facility, where inmates are paired with rescued Greyhounds to help prepare the dogs for adoption and she is currently a mentor for CATCH Academy. She holds a BFA from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford and lives in Nashville with her husband, their two children and senior dog, Chloe (beagle mix).
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), IAABC
Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), CCPDT
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP)
Fear Free Certified Training Professional
Family Paws Licensed Educator
Professional Member, IAABC
Professional Member, APDT
Julie Farris is co-owner, co-Director of Training and a Certified Behavior Consultant for Instinct Nashville. Julie oversees our board and train program as well as provides behavior consultations involving fear, anxiety and aggression for our clients. She is certified in both behavior and training through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and a graduate of University of S. Florida with a degree in Mass Communications.
Julie has over 22 years of experience working with dogs and coaching owners, including work with Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist, Dr. Beth Strickler for over 8 years. Julie also serves as a board member for Bonaparte's Retreat, a Nashville dog rescue owned by country music legend Emmylou Harris. Julie and her husband share a farm outside of Nashville with their rescue dogs & cats, horses, goats, chickens and ducks.
Certified Behavior Consultant Canine (CCPDT)
Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
Professional Member, APDT
Supporting Member, IAABC
Service areas: Davidson County, Williamson County & Wilson County
How are Nashville dog trainers selected for this list?
These are the top dog trainers in Nashville 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 Nashville 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 Nashville?
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 Nashville 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 Nashville cost?
Nashville 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 Nashville dog trainer. How can I get listed here?
As long as you have a training facility or do in person training in Nashville 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 Nashville?
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 Tennessee was $29,877 per year and $14.36 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.
Ordered alphabetically, only included cities where there is enough data to compile a list
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