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The Best Dog Trainers in Raleigh, NC of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 24, 2023

Dog Trainers

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

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

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

The Best Raleigh, NC Dog Trainers in 2023

Rebecca Gridley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certifications: Veterinary Behaviorist Recommended

Services include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sam Selim

I am a 35-Year Veteran of Corporate world, as a Global Technology Executive, and a Boyscout from Childhood. My love for the Outdoors, Wilderness, Animals and Travels - has always been at the center of my Core & Spirit. I have stood in the Front & Center of many "Impressive" Boardrooms... closing major deals.. but at the end of every day - my biggest joy was standing in the middle of a Forest, or my Pasture, with my dogs - and all the special bonfires with my Family.

Certifications: IAABC, ABC, Animal Behavior Science, Aggression & Reactivity, Behavior Modification Training

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Protection/guard dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: After 45 years of owning & training Dogs, and a few Horses - I have learned the Base Foundation of what Humans & Canines need for a lasting, respectful, & reliable "Connection". The Psychology & Mindsets needed, that transcend to results. I teach both, Human & Dog, to cultivate the "Protocol", of Communication - that Transcends any "general approach" out there today... it's a 360 approach, a "Process that leads to Progress" - everything is "Visible & Measureable" by all my clients. Any Dog, Any Owner, Any Stage - from Baseline Obedience, to advanced & versatile Obedience - Agility, Indoor/Outdoor, Distance Commands, Silent & Audible, Enrichment, Enjoyment & Tricks - for Family & Canine Fulfillment, Joy & Satisfaction - through Positive Reeinforcement - Dogs are "Wingless Angels"...

Behavioral issue focus: I work with all Breeds & Behaviorial Stages of Dog Maturity, Growth & Stability. Examples are - "Dog Reactivity", Human Reactivity, Anxiety, Manners, Resource Guarding, Aggression, Shyness, Pulling, Trauma, Biting, Socialization, with a focus on Desired Behavior Modification & Transformation.

Training methods: First things First! I conduct a client/dog session, that builds Discovery & INTAKE, through Observation - to establish a "Baseline" of accurate data points. I seek to gain an "untainted" picture of the "Raw Settings" & Triggers, Behaviors, current styles of communication, with a full video review, of base supporting analysis - with this, I develop a "Narrative of Findings", along with a path of recommendations- that bring visibility to desired outcomes. A Plan is then customized for the Client, that keeps the Dogs' full potential, and Enrichment as the focus, along with Cient needs and a Family centered & inclusive approach is constructed, discussed and shared. The plan is constructed in such a way that Client has full Visibility to Goals, Progress, and Preparation for "next session". The sessions are typically inclusive of all family members - to help cultivate "Unity" and "Cadence"...

Why I became a dog trainer: My Grandpa, had 2 German Shepherd Dogs, that would drag me under his bed when I was a baby infant, and care for me and protect me. These dogs would essentially "babysit" me, and bring toys under the bed. That's when my love for dogs was born.. I have always owned dogs since - I believe now, I help raise dogs, the same way they did for me. I can never be without dogs in my life. The rest of the journey was "Destiny"...

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part, is seeing the "smiles" happen.. and the "Aha" moments by all the family members occur. Helping families realize that they all are "Gaurdians" of dogs - and that Fulfillment, Enrichment and Achievement, all work hand-in-hand.. helping them realize that dogs "smile" too - and when all these things come together - They all work through an "invisible" wall, and a higher sense of connection and bond.

My #1 dog training tip: My Tip, that I tell everyone, is that "Dogs are always learning"... but we, as humans, are NOT always teaching - and therefore, "Dogs learn what we are not teaching"... once they view it all this way, it becomes easier to cultivate the bond and the training.

Service areas: JOHNSTON COUNTY, Clayton & Surrounding Areas


Logan Buie

I am a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and Separation Anxiety Pro Trainer. I have a soft spot for dogs who are labeled fearful, anxious, or reactive. My training plans always focus on meeting a dog's needs (as well as the human's) to help them feel safe and confident in this wild world. My training plans also focus on allowing dogs to have choice and agency in the learning process.

Certifications:  KPA-CTP, SA Pro Trainer

Services include:

  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training

More info about service provided: Reactivity training, separation anxiety training, general life skills/manners/behavior modification

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity to humans and/or dogs; Undesirable behavior issues like nipping/jumping/etc; Separation-related behaviors

Training methods: I follow a force-free, LIMA, and evidence-based training approach. Clients participate in a 75-minute initial behavior consultation with me before registering for a training package with multiple virtual sessions.

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer because of my own reactive dog, JJ. After seeing the impact of a clicker training approach on her mental health and welfare, I began inhaling all of the positive reinforcement knowledge I could. I love to learn, and I quickly realized that I wanted to share what I had learned with other dog parents to help them and their dogs thrive.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing nervous or fearful dogs come out of their shell and grow in confidence!

My #1 dog training tip: Your dog is a sentient being and they deserve to be treated as such! Take the time to understand and meet their needs - it is worth it in the long run. Seeing your dog as an individual is also one of the best, most beautiful parts of your relationship.

Service areas: Remote only


Liz Machaffie

My goal is to bring you and your dog more joy and less stress!

My education level means you're getting top-notch, humane help. I've earned a Master's degree in dog and cat behavior. (And a Bachelor's in Animal Behavior.) This is what I've wanted to do since I was 12, and I wanted the best education I could get.

I love dogs AND people! You deserve compassion and understanding just as much as your dog does. (No judgements here on what training you've tried before or what you did when you got stressed!)

My dogs and I have earned Canine Good Citizen certificates, a therapy dog certification, DMWYD and AKC Trick Dog titles, and a Cooperative Care Certificate! We also train for Rally-FrEe, disc, and musical freestyle!

Certifications: MS, CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Aggression, Fear, Anxiety

Service areas: NC Triangle


Michele Godlevski

Michele Godlevski
Founder and Owner of Teamworks Dog Training
Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (ACDBC),
Certified Behavior Consultant (Canine) - Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA), SFSPCA Academy Certified Canine Behavior Counselor (CC),
Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT – KA), National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors Endorsements (N.A.D.O.I.) in Manners & Agility Instruction, 32 Championship Level Titles in Agility including ADCH-B, MACH-4, C-ATCH-8, LAA, Titled in Barn Hunt RATCHx4, Titled in Scent Work SWE, Titled Canine Scent Sport CCSS-L3, Titled in Rally RE, Titled in Competition Obedience CD, U-CD, Novice Tricks Title, Bachelor of Science in Biology & Genetic Engineering, Author of 4 dog training books (Group Class Training Director, Agility Classes, Scent Work Classes, In Board Training Director, Behavior Consultations)

Certifications: Certified Canine Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Group classes - Puppy, Manners, Therapy Dog, Agility, Scent Work, Barn Hunt, Rally. Private Lessons, Behavior Consultations, Doggie Dayschool, Board & Train. Dog Sports - Agility, Scent Work, Barn Hunt, Rally, Dock Diving.

Behavioral issue focus: All types of aggression and fear issues as well as adolescent and puppy issues.

Training methods: Humane, non-aversive, positive reinforcement-based methods.

Why I became a dog trainer: To help keep dogs out of the shelters

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping people understand dog behavior

My #1 dog training tip: Allowing dogs to bark at the front window can lead to stranger and dog aggression. See my book, The Sentry Dog

Service areas: Raleigh, Wake Forest, Youngsville, Knightdale, Louisburg


Gloria Schmidt

Gloria Schmidt is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and Fear Free Certified Pet Professional (Elite Level).

Prior to becoming a professional dog trainer, Gloria graduated with a degree in chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill. She enjoyed her five years at the lab bench - especially when contributing to drug discovery research at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. While there, she helped declare a clinical candidate with the FDA and co-authored seven journal articles for various pediatric diseases.

In 2017, Gloria decided she was ready to get out of the (lab) rat race. She began working as a veterinary nurse for two years while simultaneously developing her professional dog training skills. Although she no longer actively runs chemistry experiments, she carries over that analytical thinking to each dog and owner who crosses her path.

Gloria developed a strong interest in cooperative care while working as a veterinary nurse - her long term goal is to bridge the communication gap between veterinary clinics, dog trainers, and owners. She also enjoys helping owners understand 'the why' behind a dog's behavior so that everyone can be set up for success during training sessions.

When not with clients, Gloria enjoys living her best Hobbit life with her husband John, border-collie pup Jackson, and fierce cat Penny. On the average day, you will find her curled up with the pets by the fireplace, sipping a cup of coffee, and immersed in a book (most likely about dog behavior). On the more adventurous days, you will find her downhill skiing or SCUBA diving with John.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, Elite Fear Free Professional

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I do virtual and in-home private training lessons. Topics I am most passionate about include: cooperative care at the vet clinic, basic manners, puppy socialization, distraction training, pre-dog counseling, and family/children interactions.

Behavioral issue focus: I work with on a range of behavior issues: desensitization with vet visits, reactive dogs, nervous dogs, and many others. I enjoy working with the owner and vet to determine the best approach for each individual dog.

Training methods: I use a least invasive, minimally intrusive (LIMA) approach with all dogs. I typically use luring, capturing, and shaping to train behaviors. I prefer force free training over any other kind of methods. Since each owner/dog is an individual, I accomplish this training method by doing a consultation with the owners to discuss our plan moving forward. After the consultation, I prefer to complete a series of private training lessons in the environment where the dog's behavior is happening to see maximum results. I prefer for the owner to be present so that they can learn how to properly do the training themselves.

Why I became a dog trainer: Dogs excite me. The animal-human bond fascinates me. I enjoy helping owners and dogs learn how to communicate with one another. I love seeing an owner's eyes light up when they understand 'why' a certain behavior happens. I love seeing a dog get excited when they realize they are understood by a human.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: There is nothing more fun than watching an owner get excited about their dog's training. I love when owners ask, 'Why?'

My #1 dog training tip: Always carry treats and a dog squeaker. You will be ready for any training opportunity that's waiting around the corner.

Service areas: Cary, NC; Apex, NC; Raleigh, NC


Sniffspot Raleigh Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Raleigh dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Raleigh 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 Raleigh 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 Raleigh?

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 Raleigh 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 Raleigh cost?

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

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

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

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See The Best Dog Trainers In Other North Carolina Cities

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

Asheville, NC
Chapel Hill, NC
Charlotte, NC
Concord, NC
Durham, NC
Greensboro, NC
Hickory, NC
High Point, NC
Winston, NC

See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near North Carolina

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

South Carolina

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Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 24, 2023

Dog Trainers

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