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The Best Dog Trainers in Rochester, NY of 2023

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Merlin Noble

May 25, 2023

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Rochester, NY Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Rochester 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 New York 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 Rochester, NY Dog Trainers in 2023

Paige Sande

I am a relationship based dog trainer teaching humans how to properly communicate with their dogs while building a trusting and respectful relationship from owner to canine.

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Private lessons

Behavioral issue focus: I work with dogs who have behavior issues from being under socialized

Why I became a dog trainer: I was inspired by my dog, Zena.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping pet parents understand how the dog brain truly works and changing the relationship between owner and dog in all the right ways.

My #1 dog training tip: Listen to your dog, they are always telling you something.

Service areas: Livingston County


Dawn Spencer

Dawn has been a animal lover all her life. She is pet certified in CPR, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, LIMA certified & Better Business Bureau. She owes 5 German Shepherd Dogs, and loves teaching them all something new. She enjoys trialing with them in different venues. Over the 25+ years, she has trained thousands of dogs in her career, from large breeds to toy breeds. Becoming a Dog Trainer was inevitable. When training with her, you become part of the Family. Training is a passion for her!! She works with a few rescues in the Orleans County region including, Bright Star German Shepherd Rescue, Make a Difference Rescue, Orleans County Animal Shelter & PAWS of Orleans. With PAWS, she does her training at Albion Correctional Facility training the incarcerated individuals to train rescues.

Certifications: Lima Certified, APDT, AKC CGC Evaluator, Pet CPR, BBB

Services include:

  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Obedience, Therapy Dog, Service Dog, Scent Training, Trick Dog, Group Classes, Private Classes

Behavioral issue focus: Basic Training to advanced Training, Resource Guarding, Confidence Building, Dog on Dog aggression

Why I became a dog trainer: Becoming a trainer was an easy decision, watching the transformation from day one until our session ends is my true reward. The love for Dogs pushed me to be the best I can be. Continuing my personal training along the way helps me help people and their dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: The final result, seeing the difference in behaviors. Training the people to help their dogs become a better citizen. Ensuring they won't become a part of the system of shelter life or rescues.

My #1 dog training tip: My number one training tip is to be patient. Each dog learns differently, some catch on quickly, while others take time. Dogs are a creature of habit, so being consistent helps them understand what we are asking.

Service areas: Orleans, Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Erie, Niagara, Ontario and surrounding Counties


Tori Ganino

Tori is an avid dog lover that originally went to college to study Psychology. After earning a Bachelor's Degree of Science, she adopted a 5-month-old dog from a local shelter. Almost immediately, behavior problems started to show where her new companion, Cooper, was afraid to meet people, barking and lunging whenever someone came near. Tori elicited the help of a behaviorist who's suggested technique was pinning Cooper dog against the wall and forcing him to deal with strangers that were approaching him until he emotionally shut down.

Tori knew that there must be a better, more humane way, and decided to take her passion for psychology and dogs and enrolled in the Animal Behavior College. Through their hands-on educational program and apprenticeship, Tori developed the skills to handle all training situations with a positive approach and graduated as an Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer (ABCDT).

Tori furthered her expertise by successfully passing the Certified Professional Dog Trainer Exam - Knowledge Assessed, earning the title CPDT-KA. Unlike many other organizations that offer non-standardized take-home tests, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers requires at least 300 hours hands-on experience, references and the completion of a standardized test used nationwide. Continuing education credits are required to maintain this certification.

In October of 2015, Tori became a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) through the International Association of Behavior Consultants (IAABC). This is a title that less than 200 people in the world have. In addition to an extensive written exam, requirements for membership include a minimum of three years and 500 hours experience in animal behavior consulting with client present, case studies, 400 hours minimum of coursework, mentorship as well as seminars related to the core areas of competency. Continuing education credits are required to maintain this certification.

In 2016, Tori became a certified Victoria Stilwell Academy Mentor, and Animal Behavior College Mentor.

Certifications: CDBC, CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Private lessons at the owner's home or in public

Behavioral issue focus: Dogs that bite, bark, or lunge. Puppies under 6 months of age.

Training methods: Personalized training programs using force-free methods

Why I became a dog trainer: Experienced hiring a trainer that used force and dominance methods. I wanted to learn a better way to work with dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing the transformation that the dogs and owners go through due to my programs.

My #1 dog training tip: Consistency is key! Make sure that you are implementing the training in all situations and not just during formal lessons.

Service areas: G.L.O.W Region


Alex Ferrente

I received my Bachelor's degree in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation from Canisius College in 2015. During my time there, I studied the behavior of a captive population of beluga whales. This led to my first professional training position - with marine mammals! After graduating, I moved to a small island in Washington State where I worked for two seasons as a Marine Naturalist for a whale watching outfitter. In my spare time, I volunteered at the local animal shelter which sparked my interest in companion animal behavior.

In 2016, I accepted a position in the behavior and training department at Lollypop Farm where I remained for 4 years. There, I taught group classes and private lessons for members of the public, performed dog behavior evaluations, and carried out behavior modification for cats and dogs who weren't quite ready for adoption.

In 2020, I left to start Young Lion Training and Behavior with my training partner, Rebecca. It was a smooth transition to working for ourselves and I love the work-life balance I'm able to maintain. Doing so helps me to be the best trainer that I can be. I have two dogs and a cat of my own, and they all love training just as much as I do!

Certifications: Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: We offer in-home and virtual behavior consultations, continued coaching, day training and group classes for dogs of all ages and across a range of behavior challenges. One of our favorite services to provide is our puppy starter package - where we can get your puppy started off on the right foot from day one!

Behavioral issue focus: Basic manners, impulse control, reactivity, resource guarding, cat-dog introductions, and more.

Training methods: We adhere to the humane hierarchy and never use or recommend aversive training techniques. Private training always starts with an initial behavior consultation followed by a written training plan, and the type of follow-up sessions depend on the case. For clients who like to work more independently, we offer more intermittent coaching every few weeks. And for clients who prefer more accelerated, hands on guidance, we offer multiple times per week day training sessions - as well as some hybrid options between those two.

Why I became a dog trainer: I've always been interested in animal behavior and dog training/behavior consulting has been such an effective way to help a large number of dogs and their humans live more harmoniously together. I love having a career that allows me to advocate for science-based, ethical training methods.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite moments are when clients can see and feel proud of the changes they've worked so hard on with their dog. It also feels pretty special to be one of so many dogs favorite people.

My #1 dog training tip: Be kind, patient, and set them up for success by breaking your goals down into tiny, achievable steps!

Service areas: Greater Rochester Area, Finger Lakes, and beyond


Heather Adams

I graduated from the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior in 2008. Since then I've had the great joy of helping hundreds of families enjoy their dogs more by making sure they actually listen! It's been very rewarding along the way.

I love teaching both dogs and people in our programs that help families with things like jumping, pulling on the leash and coming when they're called and even fun agility classes to help families teach their dogs to pay more attention to them. I also help dogs who suffer from reactivity, fear and anxiety as a certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor.

Our agility classes are perfect for families that want to join in for fun, but we've got serious competitors that love our classes too. My continuing education is now highly focused on agility with some of the best trainers in the world, so I can bring the latest and greatest techniques and training to my agility students.

I believe it's important to be a great dog trainer, but it's just as important to be a great teacher. After all, my job is to teach you how to train your dog. I'm a graduate of the Teacher Certification Program at the University at Buffalo and have practical experience teaching biology and science to all age groups, in addition to over 14 years teaching people how to train their dogs.

I also believe the best teachers are life long learners. And the best part is, there is always something new to learn to keep life fun and interesting! My mission is to bring my passion for dog training and teaching people together, to help you bring out the best in your dog.

Certifications: Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor

Services include:

  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: We offer private lesson programs and day training for pet dog obedience and manners for puppies and dogs of all ages and breeds/mixes; special training programs for dogs with reactivity, fear and anxiety; we also offer agility training through private lessons and group lessons in two locations. We specialize in off leash training and getting your dog to come when called no matter what!

Behavioral issue focus: Our most typical students have young dogs from puppy through 2-3 years old that have common adolescent issues like jumping up on people, greeting people and being wild when guests come over, pulling on the leash, chewing on things, nipping people, barking, and potty training problems. We also work with dogs who are reactive to other dogs or people, and those with fear and anxiety issues, like separation anxiety.

Training methods: All of our students start with an evaluation/consultation here at our training facility in Corfu, NY or online through Zoom or FaceTime. During that time, I observe and evaluate the dog's behavior, get a detailed history about the dog, determine what the owner's goals and preferences are for training and present all the options. I also describe and demonstrate our training methods, which include positive reinforcement methods such as luring and clicker training. Our programs are comprehensive and include substantial support, training equipment, video reference library and much more.

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer to help people and dogs live their best lives together. Many years ago, I adopted a dog named Sadie who had severe separation anxiety and no matter how many classes we joined, she just wouldn't get better or come when called. I started my own research and tried just about every method out there until I came across a book by Karen Pryor called Don't Shoot the Dog. From there, I learned about her Academy and the rest is history. Sadie had a great life with the right training and understanding. My mission is to help people understand their dogs and use the kindest training methods that make more sense to dogs, using the way they most naturally learn.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love seeing the progress that my students and their dogs make and just spending time with them.

My #1 dog training tip: Set your dog up for success so that they can find out for themselves how wonderful it is to do the things you want them to do. If you get that right you'll having a willing participant, not just an obedient dog and training will be easy.

Service areas: Western New York, which includes the following counties; Genesee, Erie, Niagara, Wyoming, Monroe, Orleans


Heather Allen

My interest in dog training started over 20 years ago when some behavioral issues exhibited by my first two dogs required me to seek out a professional dog trainer. This experience opened the door to the world of dog training for me. I took what I learned from my training experience and sought out a Canine Good Citizen certification with one of those dogs.

We passed with flying colors but when we were done, I realized that my dog did not enjoy the process; that my tight parameters and micro-management was not how he deserved to live and not how I wanted to live with my dogs. This revelation further fed my need for more knowledge.

I began to assist local trainers with their obedience classes, and started to research everything I could about canine body language and behavior. I was in search of something. I did not know exactly what that 'something' was so I started to travel to training workshops and seminars, exposing myself to many different methodologies.

This search for knowledge led me to my first of many Training Between The Ears (TBTE) workshops with Mark McCabe. It rocked my world! This method of training was exactly what I was looking for, a complete game changer for me. After my first day of the seminar, I drove back to my hotel on an emotional rollercoaster. I was thinking about how I used to train and wishing that I had known about this system back then.

The TBTE method is a way to modify a dog's perception about its environment with the least amount of conflict possible. Being able to remove conflict while working with a dog spoke to my heart. Helping a dog learn to find true relaxation and a healthy emotional state spoke to my mind. When I can help change a dog's mind, and help it let go of anxiety and fear, obedience work can then become a fun event between the dog and handler rather than a chore that caps unwanted behaviors.

TBTE has been a true gift to me and has changed how I view dog training. Helping dogs and their owners' live happy, healthy, fulfilled lives was the 'something' that I had been looking for. I am proud to be a TBTE practitioner and am grateful for my mentors Mark McCabe and his wife Stephanie. I will be forever thankful that our paths crossed.

My husband and I volunteered for Big Dogs Big Hearts Rescue for many years, fostering over 50 dogs. We have taken in many special needs dogs with issues ranging from medical to behavioral and we have learned so much from the experience. This experience lead me to accepting the role of Foster Coordinator for the rescue and I was involved with the behavioral evaluation process for dogs seeking placement in our program.


CATCH Canine Trainers Academy
Certified in Dog Training Knowledge‚Äã

Mark McCabe - Training Between The Ears (TBTE)
Resolving Conflict in Human/Canine Relationships

Ashley Sculac - Canine Resistance Training (CRT)
Certified CRT Instructor

American Kennel Club (AKC)
AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Certified Trainer & Evaluator
AKC Canine Good Citizen Certified Trainer & Evaluator

Emergency Care & Safety Institute Pet First Aid & Disaster Response Course Certified

Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior
Dog Trainer Foundations

Service areas: Greater Rochester NY Area


Mary Bradford

My career started in pet dog training under the mentorship of one of Rochester's most talented trainers. In 2009, I was certified through the former DTIP program. I have continued my formal education through workshops and seminars with some of the world's greatest trainers, including Dr. Sophia Yin, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Suzanne Clothier, Sue Sternberg (to name a few). From 2014 to 2016, I lived in Maryland for my work with Guiding Eyes for the Blind preparing future guide dog puppies for their careers.

Although I have helped many Rochester area families with behavior modification services for fear, anxiety and aggression,

my passion is in training puppies and their people; getting their relationship started off right!

Services include:

  • Puppy training

Behavioral issue focus: Behavior modification services for fear, anxiety and aggression


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Sniffspot Rochester Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Rochester dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Rochester 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 Rochester 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 Rochester?

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 Rochester 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 Rochester cost?

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

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

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 New York was $36,025 per year and $17.32 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.

See The Best Dog Trainers In Other New York Cities

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

Albany, NY
Brooklyn, NY
Buffalo, NY
Long Island, NY
New York, NY
Poughkeepsie, NY
Syracuse, NY

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See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near New York

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

New Jersey

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 25, 2023

Dog Trainers

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