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The Best Dog Trainers in Rapid City, SD of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 28, 2023

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Rapid City, SD Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Rapid City 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 South Dakota 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 Rapid City, SD Dog Trainers in 2023

Maggie Pearson

Maggie Pearson graduated from the Karen Pryor Academy for dog trainers, has her certification as a Separation Anxiety Trainer, a Certified Controlled Unleash Instructor, a Certified Family Dog Mediator, and her Fear Free Certification. She is an Accredited Dog Trainer with IAABC, a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator for AKC, and an AKC CGC and Fit Dog instructor.

To Maggie, it feels like she has never not been a trainer. She's always been fascinated by training. As a child, she had Guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, salamanders, frogs, and dogs' everything under the sun. She went on to get a degree in psychology to feed her fascination with learning theory and how animals learn. Her passion never wavered, and she kept taking classes. It happened naturally that she started teaching group classes at her local kennel club.

After a few years of doing that, she decided she should get more education. This is a theme for Maggie, a lifelong learner. After Maggie got her separation anxiety credential, those cases quickly became her favorite. She has had a dog with separation anxiety and is familiar not only with the panic disorder itself but also with the stress it can put on a dog guardian. She loves helping dogs overcome their separation anxiety and giving pet parents the ability to leave their dogs without guilt and worry, hence giving the entire household some relief. Maggie has a background in human resources, which helped her learn to advocate for people and to communicate. She is versatile and flexible in her interactions with people. She's a superb listener and works to understand where clients are coming from and what their goals are with their dogs. Then she helps them bridge that gap. She enjoys explaining dog behavior and helping people understand that often, what their dog is doing is normal. She can then help them find out an outlet for the dog to do 'dog things' in ways that better fit in their human lives.

You can see Maggie's practicality in the educational offerings she has created for local clients, including 'Office Dog' a program for business owners who want to provide their employees with the unique benefit of bringing their dogs to work and do so safely. It's one of her most popular offerings. Maggie provides her skills to her community. Along with search and rescue work with her dogs Ruger, Rlo and Arson. She does therapy work with her dog Gracie. She is active in her local kennel club. She volunteers with Almost Home Canine Rescue and her local animal shelter. Maggie Pearson is on a mission to positively impact lives, one dog at a time.

Certifications: Certified Dog Trainer, CSAT, ADT, FDM, FFCP, CCUI & B.S.

Services include:

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

More info about service provided:

Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Puppy Training
Puppy Rearing
Reactivity in Dogs
Fear full Dogs
Recall Training
Potty Training
Life Skills all dogs should know
Cooperative Care
Tricks with a purpose
Family Dog Training
Breed Selection Help

Behavioral issue focus: Separation Anxiety, Reactivity, Confinement Anxiety, Fearful Dogs and Phobias.

Training methods: We use positive reinforcement training. For behavioral training we work in partnership with your veterinarian. Firstly, we need to address if there are any underlying health issues effecting your dog's behavior. We also address if their nutritional needs are being met with your veterinarian. Then we focus on exercise, enrichment and then a behavioral modification plan.

Why I became a dog trainer: I love helping people. I used to do human resources and dog training is not any different. It is all about coaching people, creating harmony in their homes. I am on a mission to positively Impact Lives, one dog at a time.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Creating Harmony in a home. I love helping people understand their dogs behaviors and finding outlets for their dogs, to do dog things.

My #1 dog training tip: Focus on what you want a dog to do and reinforce it.

Service areas: Sioux Falls, South Dakota ( metro, includes Tea, Renner, Harrisburg, Hartford, Brandon)


Terri Besler

I started Happy Tails Dog Training in 1980, and I have been teaching classes for over 40 years. I have competed in obedience, conformation, herding, agility and nosework.

I have raised English and Irish Setters, Border Collies, and now enjoy breeding, training, and trialing with Papillons. My dogs and I have acquired trophies, championships, titles and have enjoyed the ride; but the relationship with my dogs is my most valuable accomplishment!

Services include:

  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: Obedience, Nose work, Conformation and Herding


Sniffspot Rapid City Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Rapid City dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Rapid City 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 Rapid City 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 Rapid City?

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 Rapid City 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 Rapid City cost?

Rapid City 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 Rapid City dog trainer. How can I get listed here?

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

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 South Dakota was $29,798 per year and $14.33 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.

Sniffspot Dog running on field

Get safe exercise for your dog by renting a private dog park near you

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 28, 2023

Dog Trainers

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