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The Best Dog Trainers in Newport News, VA of 2023

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Merlin Noble

May 29, 2023

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Newport News, VA Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Newport News 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 Virginia 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 Newport News, VA Dog Trainers in 2023

Thomi Gill

Hi! I'm Thomi

I can help with many common issues such as but not limited to:

Fear, Anxiety, Stress, Destruction, Chewing, Digging, Scratching, House Soiling, Reactivity, Jumping, Barking, Over-excitement, Rough Play, Nipping, and more!

Pet training isn't just about your pet. In fact, the most integral part of the training process is you. That's why we work together to make sure your training plan fits your lifestyle and is tailored to what you need

All pets have their own unique traits and mannerisms, and therefore require their own unique and specialized training. That's where I come in!

Whether it's for basic manners or more complex behavioral issues, I am focused on not only training your pet, but teaching you how to effectively communicate with them. This method of training is full of fun techniques that will give you and your pet a happier life together.

I am the only Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner in Hampton Roads! I am committed to ongoing education to stay up to date with the most recent knowledge to help you reach your goals!

Certifications: KPA-CTP

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I provide private training in home and on site for reactivity, fear, anxiety aggression, and obedience.

Behavioral issue focus: I work with all behavioral issues.

Training methods: I am a rewards based trainer specializing in clicker/marker training.

Why I became a dog trainer: To help form a bridge between companion animals and their families.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing relationships change when families learn more about dog communication.

My #1 dog training tip: Your dog is learning every time you interact. Knowing how to shape behavior in those interactions is more valuable than dedicated sessions.

Service areas: Serving Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk


Elizabeth Staley

Elizabeth has loved dogs her whole life. She grew up with a few mixed breeds but was given a Pomeranian in elementary school. A lack of knowledge lead to that dog being hit by a car when he slipped out of his harness. In Junior high a second Pomeranian joined the family and lived as a beloved pet until he was 15 years old.

Once Elizabeth moved out and was on her own she rescued a beagle mix named Bandit. Bandit LOVED people and kids and he became a therapy dog. That was Elizabeth's first 'real' experience with dog training. She then found the yin to her yang in a little Boston Terrier puppy named Rio. Rio introduced her to conformation and would become her Novice A (first) agility dog as well as her partner in therapy work and many other sports.

Rio also introduced her to many people, and Elizabeth fell in love with a Bernese Mountain Dog named Angel. Angel was Elizabeth's first obedience title holder and together they achieved multiple titles. Angel was NOTHING like Rio. Rio was always excited to work if work was 'fun'. Angel was a worrier. Training these two dogs taught Elizabeth so much in motivation and patience - it also introduced her to training methods that challenged her.

Elizabeth has trained and worked with many dogs and various breeds. She has taught group classes since 2010 and private lessons since 2014. She has been an AKC CGC/Trick dog evaluator since 2012, a Barn Hunt Association Judge since 2017 and an AKC Farm Dog Judge since 2018.

Eliazbeth's formal education is a BS in Exercise Physiology and a MS in Nutrition. She holds many certifications in those fields so in 2017 she decided that she should also hold a certification in her new career field. She sat for and passed the CPDT-KA test for dog trainers. Elizabeth has also attended multiple training camps and seminars to continue her education and remain current on training methods and behavior research.

Above all Elizabeth advocates for the dogs. She truly loves dogs and wants to see them in forever homes and thriving. She enjoys helping families and pets live their best lives together.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I provide services for young and adult dogs. We focus on a better relationship between handler and dog through training. Group classes are available in obedience, agility, scent work and fitness. Private lessons are available for manners, obedience, reactivity, agility, barn hunt, scent work, tricks and conditioning. Board and Training for young dogs and sports available on a limited basis.

Behavioral issue focus: I work with reactive (not aggressive dogs) as well as sport dogs that may have issues with controlling their excitement or stress in various situations. I also work with dogs who need a training/job outlet for their energy.

Training methods: In home and private clients begin with a consult or sport intro session and are then given individual plans for private instruction (weekly, bi weekly, etc). Group classes are 4-6 weeks once a week.

Why I became a dog trainer: 2010

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love seeing the relationship between dog and handler grow and to see the pride both dog and handler experience when they are successful at a new or previously challenging behavior.

My #1 dog training tip: Be patient.

Service areas: Hampton, Smithfield, Newport News, Chesapeake, Zuni, Windsor, Norfolk


Cat Clark

Sharing your home with an animal can be one of the most rewarding things in life. Making sure your animal is well trained will give both of you more time to enjoy each other’s company, and less stress for your dog and your family. Modern, science based force-free training is full of fun techniques that will give you and your pet a happier life together through better communication.

Cat Clark is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed through CCPDT and the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior, where she graduate with Distinction, as well as a Level 2 Graduate of Peaceable Paws Academy. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild, The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and the Hampton Roads Force Free Network.

Cat not only understands dogs, she understands people and the need to work as a team to meet shared goals. Cat is a 27 year veteran of the US Air Force and earned Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

At Bravo Zulu Dog Training, we believe in the use of force-free, positive reinforcement training. We do not use any tools such as choke collars, prong collars or e-collars. Dogs, and many other animals, are social beings who enjoy love, affection and family life. Let's work together to give ourselves and our dogs the best life possible.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, VSA-CDT

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I provide basic manners training, day training, board, and train, and behavior modification.

Behavioral issue focus: I work with leash reactivity, aggression, dog/dog aggression, new dog introductions, and cat/dog introductions.

Training methods: I offer consultation to assess the issues and then develop a training plan with the family. I only use force-free non-aversive methods and the family is fully involved in all decisions about how to proceed with training. The training plan is tailored to the family's lifestyle and availability to train.

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer because I love dogs and working with people. My goal is to help my clients build the best relationship possible with their canine companions.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love watching the relationship develop between a dog and its human companion. I absolutely love it when I see the light bulb go on over a dog's head because they finally understand what their human wants them to do.

My #1 dog training tip: Treats are not bribery! We need to pay our dogs for the work they put in to learn new things. The more a behavior is reinforced, the more it will be repeated.

Service areas: Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Yorktown, Williamsburg


Andrea Marx

I started Freak on a Leash in 2015 because I am passionate about positive reinforcement training and teaching people the kindest ways of interacting with their dogs. I am a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).

I am also a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Family Dog Mediator (, and Fear Free Certified Professional. My specialty is treating challenging behaviors like aggression, anxiety, and fear and I am thoroughly educated in treating problem behaviors safely and kindly. One of my highest priorities is ongoing education. I stay current on the latest science-based methods of training, allowing me to help you get the best results in the shortest amount of time.

Lasting behavior change takes patience and teamwork. Dogs are motivated by many things and we can find reinforcement that works; sometimes we just have to get creative! If crocodiles, dolphins, and wolves can be trained with rewards, why use painful devices on your best friend? I want you and your dog to live happily together, and I am confident I can help you reach your training goals!

Certifications: CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, FFCP, FDM

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Group classes from puppy to Advanced obedience, Behavior modification and Manners In home training, Day training and some Board and train

Behavioral issue focus: aggression cases, reactivity, ocd, fear and anxiety

Training methods: reward based methods for behavior modification programs, manner programs

Why I became a dog trainer: Training dogs was fun for me right away, but once my own dogs started having behavior concerns like reactivity and aggression I really started to dig deep into behavior change.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Showing people how amazing their dogs can be. Making people happy with quick progress when they had no hope for their dog to get better.

My #1 dog training tip: Reinforce more than you think you should

Service areas: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Moyock, Newport News, Yorktown, Hampton, Suffolk


Sniffspot Newport News Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Newport News dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Newport News 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 Newport News 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 Newport News?

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 Newport News 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 Newport News cost?

Newport News 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 Newport News dog trainer. How can I get listed here?

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

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 Virginia was $35,742 per year and $17.18 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 Virginia Cities

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

Langley, VA
Norfolk, VA
Richmond, VA
Virginia Beach, VA

See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near Virginia

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

North Carolina

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Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 29, 2023

Dog Trainers

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