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The Best Dog Trainers in San Diego, CA of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

March 29, 2022

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the San Diego, CA Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in San Diego 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 California 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 San Diego, CA Dog Trainers in 2023

Gina Esoldi

In 2014 with my then companion dogs, Tebow, Scruffy and Richter, I ventured to the dog park and had a chance meeting with Sally Montruchio the founder of Next Step Service Dogs. This meeting changed my life, as Sally helped me take my passion for dogs and service to the next level. After attending just one class with NSSD I was committed to the program and excited for the opportunity to train a dog and change a veterans life! In 2015, I became the Assistant Training Director at NSSD and from their applied for and received my Certification for Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) in 2016. It was this same year that I met Dr. Ian Dunbar, world renowned veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and dog trainer who became my mentor with whom I continue to work with today at CDT. In 2018, I was promoted to Training Director at NSSD where I continue to work today renewing the lives of veterans by training and placing exceptional service dogs.

In 2019, seeing a need for education and training of private clients I founded Companion Dog Training (CDT). That same year, we moved both NSSD and CDT to our Rancho Cucciolo facility in Escondido. Sitting on 1.5 acres Rancho Cucciolo provides the perfect training grounds for both on and off leash training, with its privately owned fully fenced dog park, enclosed and air conditioned training room, and doggy dormitory.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, AKC-CGC Evaluator, Assistance Dogs International
Crisis Response Canine Trainer - San Diego, CPR - Canine, Paws to Share

Services include:

  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Service dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Puppy Training, Adult dog Training, Group classes, Private Sessions, Off-Leash Classes, Board and Train, Service Dog Training, Potty Training, Obedience Training, Loose Leash Walking, etc.

Training methods: Training your dog whether it be for a companion, therapy work, or service is about trust, communication and most of all relationship. Your companion dog should be trained to fit your lifestyle, your family and your needs. Working with service dogs and veterans I have spent many years training and transferring dogs to their new teammate. Dogs will always perform for the trainer but is it transferable? My goal is to give you those tools to not only help in the process, but allow you to maintain the training for years to come!

Why I became a dog trainer: For my love of dogs and working with people.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing both dogs and clients bond transform as each gains confidence, knowledge, and skills to work side by side.

Service areas: San Diego

Website: https://companiondogtrainingsd.com/


Ashley Valentine

Ashley Valentine is a Nationally Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). She has completed a Complete Canine Certification in Canine Aggression master course through world-renowned Michael Shikashio who is fully Certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She uses positive reinforcement, management, and safety techniques to help owners and dogs with all levels of aggression, reactivity and anxiety. As with any canine, her goals are happy, loved dogs with confident, knowledgeable owners.

In addition, she has also completed a master course on separation anxiety by Moira Hechenleitner DVM, CSAT, in which the training method is a positive and relaxing experience for the dog, which will allow them to desensitize and learn to be home alone comfortably. To go along with her canine CPR and first aid qualifications, Ashley has also completed her certification in Recognizing Pain in Dogs and is a supporter of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).
Ashley has completed her Certification (F.D.M.) and Licensing as a Family Dog Mediator in Behavior (LFDM-B) through Kim Brophey. This methodology gives understanding to the many aspects as to WHY dogs behave the way they do and how we can help them in a humane, enriching and enlightening way. This methodology helps bridge the gap between human and dog in order to have a better understanding, communication and trusting relationship from both ends of the leash.
She has a special affinity for helping fearful and aggressive dogs reach a state of happiness and is always the common face at every local rescue event and takes pride in giving back to the canine community through her training, fostering, volunteering and her specialization in behavioral rehab.

Ashley pursued her passion by obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from The University of Connecticut in 2007. Her passion for her animal training career began early, with riding horses at the age of 8 and by 19, she was managing a riding facility. She also built/owned/operated 2 riding facilities in which she trained horses to compete in Hunter Jumper competitions all over the East Coast. She then moved to San Diego in 2015 and put that education to work. Since then, she has become the go-to socializer for the most extreme fear cases found in a variety of rescues in San Diego and overseas.

Certifications: LFDM-B Licensed Family Dog Mediator in Behavior Division, CBCC-KA Certified Behaviorist, CPDT-KA - Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Complete Canines Certification in Canine Aggression and Master Course Certification in Separation Anxiety, CGC Evaluator

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Private lessons, Virtual lessons, Group classes.

Behavioral issue focus: Aggression, Leash reactivity, Anxiety, Fear, Separation Anxiety.

Training methods: Positive reinforcement, Management and Safety techniques.

Why I became a dog trainer: Love of animals

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping dogs be heard and understood by their owners.

My #1 dog training tip: Train the owner, treat the dog

Service areas: San Diego, Ca

Website: https://Zoesdogtraining.com


Sarah Surritt

Sarah was that kid growing up who was always bringing home strays and begging her mom to let her keep them. Ever do that? Thankfully, her folks typically said yes and she grew up surrounded by animals.

Until she began volunteering at the San Diego Humane Society and what was the onset of her training career in 2001, she didn’t realize there was a different way to train and build a great relationship with her pets. Enter positive, kind and humane training!

Sarah successfully uses positive reinforcement training not only with the thousands of rescue dogs she's helped but also trains many other species like her goats, chickens, cats, and indoor rescue pet pig, Toby. Also included in the benefits of a relationship built on trust and joy is her mini-herd of horses: Lily, Stormy, and even Whinnie and Mahoney, both rescues.

She strongly believes in the benefits and effectiveness of positive training, and allowing our pets to have an equal role in the training process. This was the inspiration for the business name: Get Pawsitive.

Get Pawsitive helps dog owners all over the world through the online Pawsitive Puppy Training Academy and the monthly Pawsitive Training Club.

Sarah has helped thousands of pet owners over the years learn how to bring out the best and have an amazing long-lasting relationship with their dogs through her pawsitive training approach.

Certifications: KPACTP, CPDT, CGC Evaluator

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I offer positive, Safe & Humane Dog Training Online & In Person. I help pet parents train using kind and positive methods so that they can bring out the best in their dog and have an amazing relationship built on trust and joy. In-person Training: group classes are offered for all ages, sizes & breeds (puppy preschool, kinder, adult manners) in small group settings (4-5 dogs max). Specialty group classes like Loose Leash Walking, Come When Called, Bark class (for reactive dogs) and more. Private training in-person consultation for puppies (all areas of care for new puppies), basic manners and behavior modification for nervous, fearful or reactive dogs. Day training options are available also. Board and Train options for traveling pet owners are available in a home environment for puppies under 6 months. Online Training Options: Low cost monthly support group- "The Pawsitive Training Club", Private one on one training, and "The Pawsitive Puppy Training Academy"- a 6 week self-study puppy program.

Behavioral issue focus: Often work with new, young puppies- mouthing, biting, jumping, potty training, basic manners. Other common issues heavily working with pet owners include: reactivity on leash, high level of fear of people, fear of dogs, fear of children, new child/baby in the home, working with human behaviorial issues, bite history, anxiety, generalized anxiety, socialization to all things, pulling on leash, counter surfing, chasing/barking at cats, inter-household aggression, resource guarding , multi-dog household, rescued feral street dogs, work with two rescues/shelters -hands on with their dogs

Training methods: I help new pet parents train their dogs using kind, positive methods so that they can feel confident they can bring out the best in their dog and have an amazing relationship build on trust and joy. An initial consultation is starting point for all privates. Includes lengthy online application to gain dog's /family history/behavioral focus areas. Consult is in the home or online. Followed by a thorough follow-up plan for continued training/recommendations/management plan and package options for addtil support. For private ongoing sessions follow ups to clients vary based on their learning style. May include all/some of the following: text message summaries, email recap, video tutorials, shared google doc for goal tracking/daily tasks, daily or weekly check-ins with student. Access to our online client resource page with videos/printables is also offered to both in person and online students. All training is shaped, captured or lured. There is no use of punitive, aversive training or tools. I train using a marker signal (mostly a clicker) and teach students the same. Instruction style is verbal as well as hands on- I often use video to record and share for feedback and guidance as well

Why I became a dog trainer: For my lifelong love of and experience training with my own animals as a young child- I knew there was a kinder way. To help make a difference in the lives of the dogs and to help educate and spread the power of safe, positive and humane training methods to as many people as possible. I strives to educate them, demonstrating that the safest, most effective, and humane way to train dogs, in the shelter or at home, is to reinforce the behavior you do want vs suppress/punish

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love teaching people that giving dogs more CHOICES through science-based training leads to success and some really wonderful light bulb moments with owners and their pups- all resulting in a wonderful bond.

My #1 dog training tip: Teach your dog to WANT to do what you want him to do.

Service areas: Carlsbad, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Vista, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Clairemont, Sorrento Valley, Escondido, Poway, Oceanside, Leucadia, Cardiff, Rancho Bernardo, Mira Mesa, Pacific Beach, San Marcos

Website: https://www.getpawsitive.com


Ashley Cipolletti

I am a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and I specialize in training former rescue and shelter dogs. I’m passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless and strive to make the world a better place for canines and their human companions.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, BA Psychology

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: 1:1 private coaching in home and on field trips, basic cues, potty training, distraction training, impulse control, leash walking, fearful/anxious dogs, high-arousal, stranger danger, leash reactivity, adolescent, puppy training

Behavioral issue focus: Recently adopted dogs with fear and anxiety, dogs with trauma, leash reactivity, stranger danger, basic training, polite manners, some aggression cases depending on severity

Training methods: Behavior consultations when appropriate, training plans centered around: addressing health, lifestyle, enrichment, stress, preventing unwanted behaviors, managing the environment, and teaching what skills we want our dogs to do. Training plans set the dog up for success and increase confidence in dog and owner.

Why I became a dog trainer: To help struggling dogs and owners live better lives and have improved relationships

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing dogs and their humans succeed. Watching dogs grow in confidence and have their voices be elevated.

My #1 dog training tip: Get to know your dog's body language

Service areas: Point Loma, ocean beach, pacific beach, hillcrest, north park, South Park, downtown, little Italy, Clairemont, La Jolla, Scripps Ranch, La Mesa, Chula Vista, National City, San Diego county

Website: https://www.coregulatedk9s.com


Lindsey Lieberman

Lindsey has been working with dogs professionally for over 15 years. She got her start in shelter dog behavior and training, which provided her with the unique experience of working with dogs of all types, temperaments, and histories.
Lindsey is passionate about helping cultivate peace for dogs and their families by combining modern, fear-free dog training methods with Mindfulness practices. This unique synthesis of Applied Behavioral Analysis and philosophy makes for a safe, functional, grounded, and friendly training experience for both the dogs and their people.
Lindsey lives in a Hobbit Hole in Vista with her three dogs, Shine (15), Stormy (12), and Kit (8ish?), and AlfieCat who's somewhere between 16 and 100. When she's not hanging out with dogs, Lindsey enjoys spending time on her yoga mat, in her garden, looking at birds, or reading.

Certifications: CCPDT, CBCC, FFCP

Services include:

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

More info about service provided:

Lindsey & Birch Bark Dog Training specialize in private, in-home behavior modification programs for dogs with reactive, fearful, or aggressive behaviors.
We also offer group classes and workshops that cover basic manners & obedience, as well as specialty courses for building life skills like Zen Dog and our popular Butt Sniffing 101 series.

Behavioral issue focus: Helping dogs with dog reactivity or aggression is our specialty and our passion! We have designed a unique program to support reactive dogs and their humans that works for dogs of all sizes, breeds, and ages.

Why I became a dog trainer: It was a twist of fate!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping dogs and people feel calmer, safer, and more confident in the world.

My #1 dog training tip: Meet the dog where they are.

Service areas: Serving the dogs and people of Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and San Marcos

Website: https://www.birchbarkdogtraining.com


Annalisa Berns

Annalisa is a real-life Pet Detective. She dreamed of working with animals from a young age. Annalisa found her life's work when she read Kat Albrecht's book, 'The Lost Pet Chronicles.' She works and trains Search Dogs specifically trained to find lost pets. She is passionate about educating people about how to bring their lost pets home and how to train dogs to sniff out lost pets. Annalisa is the owner of Pet Search and Rescue and Pet Search and Rescue Investigations. She is a licensed Private Investigator in California. She wants to inspire you to consider training your dog (or adopting a new dog) to sniff out lost pets. Scent training is the ultimate enrichment for your dog, can help other people and their lost pets, and provide a rewarding job for you.

Certifications:

Missing Animal Response Technician with retired policewoman Kat Albrecht and Missing Pet Partnership, 2005.
California Licensed Private Investigator, 2014.
National Search Dog Alliance Member, Member Education Board NSDA (2009), Education Program Manager (2019-2022), 2007- current.
Registered Trainer and Member of Rescues2theRescue, 2023.

Services include:

  • Board and train

More info about service provided: Most dogs benefit from having a job. I focus on scent training, which is enriching for them and their owners. This often improves behavioral issues, as it improves the dog's confidence, attention span and focus.

Behavioral issue focus: I use positive reinforcement training methods. Each dog is different, and I embrace that in scent training. I utilize treats, toys, clicker or markers, and follow Search and Rescue methods for scent training. I offer free initial phone calls to talk about your interests and your dog for scent training for finding lost pets. You learn about options to use the training for fun and enrichment for your pet, as a volunteer or as a business. Evaluating your dog is the next step, and can be done online or in-person.

Training methods: I use positive reinforcement training methods. Each dog is different, and I embrace that in scent training. I utilize treats, toys, clicker or markers, and follow Search and Rescue methods for scent training. I offer free initial phone calls to talk about your interests and your dog for scent training for finding lost pets. You learn about options to use the training for fun and enrichment for your pet, as a volunteer or as a business. Evaluating your dog is the next step, and can be done online or in-person.

Why I became a dog trainer: I love working with animals, and found my life's passion in working specially trained Search Dogs to help find lost pets. After training dogs and working over 18 years in the field, a natural next step is training people and their dogs to sniff out lost pets.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love helping people to listen, understand and work as a team with our amazing dog partners!

My #1 dog training tip: Train your dog to find lost pets. Pay your dog. In turn, your dog can pay your bills.Train your dog to find lost pets. Pay your dog. In turn, your dog can pay your bills.

Service areas: Train your dog to find lost pets. Pay your dog. In turn, your dog can pay your bills.


Brandi Hutsell

Brandi Hutsell is a co-owner and certified dog trainer with Instinct San Diego. Brandi loves using modern, evidence-backed learning techniques to help humans and dogs learn to communicate clearly with one
another, and seeing the strong, positive relationships that grow from that mutual understanding. She is a kind, patient teacher who readily adapts her coaching and communication style to meet the needs of each dog and human with whom she works. When she isn't training dogs, you can find her snuggling with her senior King Charles Cavalier, boating, running around Mission Bay, or traveling back home to Georgia to visit her family.

Certifications: CCPDT-KA, Canine Good Citizen Evaluator

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: Potty training, crate training, puppy socialization, puppy play sessions, impulse control, mental stimulation/enrichment sessions, basic manners, polite greetings, loose leash walking, distraction training, on leash reactivity, dog to dog reactivity, dog to human reactivity, fear/anxiety confidence training, Canine Good Citizen Test Prep Training, group classes, tricks, service dog training, day training, off leash training, leash frustration training, cooperative care, separation anxiety, noise desensitization, new baby preparation training, kid/dog safety, kid/dog relationship building, interspecies households, long line training, recall

Behavioral issue focus: The most prevalent behavioral issue I help people and dogs navigate is on-leash reactivity, in which dogs are struggling with going over threshold in public environments while on-leash, whether the reactivity is towards, people, dogs, cats, kids, wheeled objects, wild animals, etc. I also take fear/anxiety cases, aggression, and most bite cases.

Training methods: At Instinct Dog Training, I use positive reinforcement-based training methods, following LIMA standards, and our training programs start with the client filling out Behavioral Health Forms, which give me an overview of the dog's physical/mental health, history, along with the behavior they've been displaying. Then I set up an hour consultation which is an assessment of the environment, dog, and understanding of the dog owner's needs. At the end of the consultation, I recommend a program that I feel best suits their training needs. The training plans include coaching sessions with the dog owner(s) so that they feel confident with the training protocols moving forward. We offer the option to add one-on-one sessions (me and the dog) in between coaching sessions to expedite the training process. I collaborate with the dog owner on Trello in between sessions throughout their program. Once the training program is completed, the dog owner has the option to join our classes that provide them opportunities to apply what they've learned in more of a real world scenario. We also offer virtual training, online classes, and seminars.

Why I became a dog trainer: When I first moved to San Diego, I walked dogs professionally. I became fascinated by dog behavior, and I wanted so badly to help the dogs that were fearful and reactive on walks. This served as a catalyst in seeking out more education. After many, many hours of shadowing, and completed dog training school, I started taking on private clients, and have been continuing to learn and grow ever since.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: THE DOGS! It's a natural love affair. I see each one as an individual and want to do my best to help them navigate their unique journey in a compassionate and loving way.

My #1 dog training tip: Great question! It's hard to narrow down to one, but if I had to choose it would be to figure out what motivates your individual dog the most then use it during your sessions! Does your dog jump for joy for a ball? Does your dog drool for beef liver? How about a game of chase? Catch the treat? Maybe all of the above? Use it to your advantage. I have used all of these types of reinforcement strategies to drive behavior and build a strong reinforcement history.

Service areas: La Jolla, Point Loma, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Downtown San Diego, Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, Hillcrest, North Park, South Park, Golden Hill, Normal Heights, Kensington, Tierrasanta, Mission Valley, Kearny Mesa, Clairemont, Bay Park, Carmel Valley, Sorrento Valley

Website: https://www.instinctdogtraining.com


Linda Michaels

Linda Michaels, M.A., Psychology, author and speaker, is rated one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States, by Top Ten Magazine. Linda holds a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology (Hons), conducted laboratory research in behavioral neurobiology examining the interface between behavior and the brain, and is the creator of the internationally acclaimed  Hierarchy of Dog Needs®—Standards of Care and Best Force-free Practices, now in use internationally in 12 different languages.

Her NEW book, The Do No Harm Dog Training® and Behavior Handbook: Featuring the Hierarchy of Dog Needs is now available on Amazon, Dogwise, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books (online), and Ingram Spark (for booksellers), as both an illustrated trade-quality paperback and an eBook. The book is designed for both new and seasoned trainers, other animal related professionals, and pet parents too!

Linda applied her academic training to shelter and rescue, working with the most difficult cases at the San Diego Humane Society, laying the foundation of all that she does today in the area of animal welfare—speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves—the heartbeats at our feet.

Linda’s unique combination of academic excellence and hands-on skill with dogs, wolfdogs, and the famed Belyaev foxes, creates a bridge between the worlds of research, dog trainers and pet parents, establishing herself as an influencer in animal welfare advocacy. A sought after speaker, Linda illustrated empirical findings with case-study references in her presentation at the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) inaugural summit: Understanding Research: Making the case for force-free training.

Linda focuses on the psychological aspects of dog behavior that often mirror human conditions, such as: fear, separation/attachment disorders, and dog aggression toward humans and other dogs—without using dominance methods or shock collar devices that often worsen behavior problems.  She is a certified Fear, Aggression and Reactivity consultant and certified veterinary assistant.

Certifications: VSPDT, MA Psychology

More info about service provided: Basic and advanced obedience, as well as socialization skills and desensitization techniques.

Website: https://www.donoharmdogtraining.com/


Emily Larlham

Emily Larlham runs the dog training business Dogmantics Dog Training in San Diego, California. She is known around the world for her popular Youtube Channel 'Kikopup' where she has posted over 350 free in-depth dog training tutorials. She believes that by putting out free training tutorials that don't involve any forms of physical or psychological intimidation, it will not only effect how people treat animals but also how people treat other human beings. Emily created the term 'Progressive Reinforcement Training' and a training manifesto to describe this way of training in detail.

Emily began her training career as an animal care-giver in a shelter about 15 years ago where she met her dog training mentor Kyle Rayon. After meeting Kyle, Emily quit her job and became an apprentice. After many years of study, learning from both human and thousands of canine mentors, she began her own business. She combines her artistic background and training skills to invent creative, fast and reliable ways to solve problem behaviors as well as train complex behaviors and tricks. She has been invited to conduct seminars on her techniques for training dogs without intimidation in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. She has also spoken at conferences such as the PPG Summit, Clicker Expo, Clicker Expo Europe, APDT, APDT Australia and the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference.

Service areas: San Diego

Website: https://dogmantics.com


Leeyah Wiseman

Leeyah is a certified dog trainer and completed a rigorous 6-month apprenticeship studying animal behavior and applying science based, positive reinforcement training techniques. She's passionate about utilizing gentle training methods to help anxious dogs and their people. And is known to go above and beyond in order to give her clients the best chance possible.

Through completing hundreds of hours of continued education with a focus on separation and anxiety related behaviors and helping her own anxious dog, Leeyah is uniquely knowledgeable and able to truly help people and dogs struggling with these issues.

Certifications:  School For The Dogs Certified Professional Trainer, Separation Anxiety Shadowing Program Certificate, Advanced Separation Anxiety Shadowing Program Certificate

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Private Training, Virtual Training, Online Resources and Books

Behavioral issue focus: Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, Reactivity, Fear, Arousal Issues, and/or Aggression.

Training methods: Training starts with a consultation and behavior assessment. We then work together to create training plans that work for the whole family. With training packages we work closely and communicate almost daily to make sure we are going at the dog's pace and efficiently meeting goals.

Why I became a dog trainer: I rescued my dog George when he was 9 weeks and after losing his sister, he developed separation anxiety and could not tolerate being home alone. I was lucky to find a certified trainer who showed me how to use an evidence-based, slow and gentle approach to help him be comfortable home alone. After helping him work through his anxiety and seeing our relationship strengthen with positive reinforcement based methods, I knew I wanted to help other people going through the same thing.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Being a part of helping a dog feel more confident and comfortable in the world they live in. And helping humans understand and communicate with their dogs better. My mission is to make the world a better place for dogs, especially the ones that have extra big feelings about it.

My #1 dog training tip: Behavior is information and listening to your dog's behavior and reading their body language is the first and most important step to communicating with them or changing behavior.

Service areas: San Diego

Website: https://galdogtraining.com


Analisa Six

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I have been working with dogs since 2015. I started working with reactive dogs in Oakland and moved to the high desert in 2020 and began working with dogs of most temperaments and various ages.

Certifications: DWA, DTIA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Coaching, day training, puppy training, reactivity, fear, barking and lunging, trail manners, in home

Behavioral issue focus: Barking, lunging, stranger fear, predation end of life needs, anxiety, global fear, basic manners

Training methods: Consultations and written training plans as well as online coaching

Why I became a dog trainer: I love dogs

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping dogs find better ways to navigate a human world and advocating for them.

My #1 dog training tip: Behavior is never fixed. Don't let yourself get stuck in a plan that isn't working.

Service areas: Yucca Valley, Joshua tree, Pioneertown, Morongo Valley


Britta Staub

My name is Britta Staub, I am from Berlin, Germany. I moved to Hawaii in 2000 when I got married. I Moved to Poway, CA in 2010 and Ramona in 2017. I worked as a Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer for more than 30 years. After experiencing overpriced, ineffective and sometimes overly physical dog training methods, I chose to start ASPIRE Dog Training. I started by becoming a Certified Dog Trainer. I chose the Animal Behavior College in California, because I, like them, choose to employ POSITIVE training methods, as there is never a reason to hit or hurt a dog during training.

I am constantly researching canine behavior. I am certified as a Canine Behavior Consultant through the International College of Canine Studies. I am certified as a Dog Trainer and in Canine Diet & Nutrition and Training Shelter Dogs through the Animal Behavior College. I am certified by the Red Cross in canine first aid. I have further education certificates in: Emergency Pet Shelter Manager through the Hawaiian Humane Society. I am an AKC "Star Puppy" & "Canine Good Citizen" & "Canine Community" Trainer and Evaluator.

I am also a member of the International Association of Canine Behavior Consultants. I was an education docent at Sea Life Park, in Hawaii for 3 years, I volunteered in the Hawaiian Humane Society as a dog trainer for 2 years. I also volunteered at the San Diego Humane Society in their Canine Behavior center as a trainer. We presently work with Second Chance Dog Rescue.

My husband Paul, a Certified Veterinarian Assistant, Groomer, and Dog Trainer, has been at my side for all of my educational training. We learn something from every dog we work with. We hope that you will consider us to help you with your dogs. We will use every tool we have to help your dog to behave the way you want. No dog is a lost cause, if you are willing to put in the time and be consistent than you will see the results of your labor!

Certifications: Certified Canine Behavior Consultant and a Certified Dog Trainer

Services include:

  • Service dog training

Service areas: San Diego, Ramona

Website: https://www.aspiredogtraining.com/


Debra Elliott

I'm 56 , came into training later than others but I am confident in my abilities. I have been around dogs my entire life, I showed dogs in Junior handling conformation classes as well as an adult. I have participated in obedience trials with my dog and have owned and trained dogs for over 35 years.

Certifications: Obedience, Socialization, CPR

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I offer in home private classes as well as group classes

Behavioral issue focus: The issue I see are counter surfing, barking, leash manners, basic and intermediate obedience issues

Training methods: I individualize training plans according to clients needs. I utilize clicker and or treats . I am a positive reinforcement trainer

Why I became a dog trainer: After training several of my own dogs my sister suggested getting my certification as a trainer

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Obviously working with the dogs but also seeing my clients faces when everything clicks and they and their dog successfully complete a behavior

My #1 dog training tip: Patience

Service areas: Escondido, San Marcos, , Vista, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Fallbrook, Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, Hemet

Website: https://brand.page/tattooladydogtraining.com


Beth Frumkin

Hi . My name is Beth and I am a dog trainer and behaviorist with 22 years experience. I have trained Guide Dogs for the Blind, Asistance Dogs for the Disabled, was the puppy group leader for Guide Dogs of America. I have trained thousands of dogs privately. I have recently published a kindle book chronicling obedience and behavioral training as well as many articles. I work on the train the trainer mentality, coming to your home and helping you and your family to work with you dog. I can help you with all issues from general obedience to behavioral issues including leash walking, off leash recall, self control and calm behavior. I never use shock collars or teach avoidance. I offer an obligation free phone consult to better discuss your needs. I charge $130 per 1hr session with a 2 session minimum.

Certifications: Former guide dog as assistance dog trainer. Over 20 yrs experience

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Private in home training. All breeds, all ages, all issues

Behavioral issue focus: I specialize in dogs who are fear aggressive with other dogs. In addition I work with everything from 8 week old pups to even senior dogs who need behavioral reshaping.

Training methods: I offer a free phone consult and then I do not lock clients into long contracts. After a 2 session minimum we work together to see how many sessions you need so you never have to pay for more than you actually need!

Why I became a dog trainer: I have always loved dogs and I love working with people. My goal is for everyone to have the most enjoyable life with their dogs!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping people get the best out of their dog

My #1 dog training tip: Use high value treats in situations that require a lot of focus

Service areas: San Diego County

Website: https://www.thetopdogtrainer.com


Christopher Moredock

Training for over 30 years

Certifications: Graduate of protrain

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Group classes

Behavioral issue focus: Any behavioral issues

Training methods: Customized to the client's needs

Why I became a dog trainer: Always had a interest in dog training,even as a child

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping clients enjoy their pets to their fullest potential

My #1 dog training tip: Patients and structure

Service areas: Lakeside

Website: https://www.americank9training.net


Lara Schindler

Lara Schindler is the founder of Happy Dog Happy Owner and has over 15 years experience training people and their dogs. Lara has always had a love for dogs and an interest in dog behavior and dog training. During a stressful time working as a corporate trainer, Lara realized that she wanted dogs to play a more prominent role in her life, as they always brought her joy and happiness. It was this realization that motivated her to combine her love for training and her passion for dogs and become a dog trainer. Soon after, Lara founded the San Diego based dog training company; Happy Dog Happy Owner.

Lara is an honors graduate of Animal Behavior College, where she received her certification as an ABC Certified Dog Trainer. She is also an authorized mentor trainer for Animal Behavior College students. She is pet first aid certified through the American Red Cross and a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. She is also an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator, a certified Dognition evaluator, and a Canine Water Sports judge. She is an avid reader of the latest dog training publications and attends seminars and training classes to keep her knowledge and skills up to date. She has been influenced by Dr. Ian Dunbar, Pat Miller, Jean Donaldson, and Karen Pryor. During her free time, Lara volunteers with her therapy dog Hops at Rady Children's Hospital and with the San Diego chapter of Love on a Leash. Lara specializes in training people how to train their dogs.

Certifications: ABCDT, CGC Evaluator

Services include:

  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: Group agility, canine good citizen, obedience, puppy, and scent work classes.

Behavioral issue focus: Basic manners and leash reactivity

Training methods: Positive reinforcement trainer

Why I became a dog trainer: I enjoy making a positive impact in the lives of dogs and their people.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: The "aha" moment

My #1 dog training tip: Don't underestimate the importance of daily physical activity and mental stimulation.

Service areas: Classes located in Ocean Beach and Point Loma

Website: https://www.happydoghappyowner.com


Mariah Orozco

A Dalmatian dog mom, furever loving training and playing with puppers!

Services include:

  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Obedience training, training classes, doggy day care training, agility training, potty training, distraction training, basic commands & basic cues

Behavioral issue focus: Reactive dogs

Training methods: I train to distract the dogs with higher value treats and interest to avoid continuing reactive behavior

Why I became a dog trainer: My Pongo was so fun to train!! I have gotten so many compliments, I leaned into assisting the community when asked and created a small business from it!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Meeting new fur babies!

My #1 dog training tip: Bring treats. Bring twice as many as you originally planned for the most successful training sessions.

Service areas: Fallbrook, De Luz, Rainbow & Bonsall


Sniffspot San Diego Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are San Diego dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in San Diego 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 San Diego 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 San Diego?

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 San Diego 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 San Diego cost?

San Diego 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 San Diego dog trainer. How can I get listed here?

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

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 California was $33,714 per year and $16.21 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 California Cities

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

Bakersfield, CA
Fresno, CA
Huntington Beach, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Modesto, CA
Oakland, CA
Oxnard, CA
Riverside, CA
Sacramento, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
Santa Maria, CA
Santa Rosa, CA
Stockton, CA
Vallejo, CA
Visalia, CA


See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near California

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

Arizona
Nevada
Oregon

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Merlin Noble

March 29, 2022

Dog Trainers

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