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The Best Dog Trainers in Washington, DC of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

June 23, 2023

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Washington, DC Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Washington 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. 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 Washington, DC Dog Trainers in 2023

Liana Burgoyne

LianaFit Canine Conditioning
Liana Burgoyne, CPDT-KA
Northwest & Northeast DC
www.lianafit.com
lianafitcanineconditioning@gmail.com
757-773-4709
Private lessons (in-person and virtually) plus group classes for manners, behavior modification, and canine fitness in the DC area. Also teaches classes for puppies and adult dogs at Colby's Dogcare in northeast DC. Also certified as Canine Fitness Coach and Canine Fitness Trainer.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, CCFT, CCFC, AKC CGC® Approved Evaluator, NASM-CPT

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: the only Certified Canine Fitness Trainer in DC! obedience training, group classes, private in-home lessons, day training, basic commands, potty training, distraction training, Canine Good Citizen training, canine fitness for sports dogs and pet dogs

Behavioral issue focus: reactivity, confidence building, puppy behaviors

Training methods: free virtual consultations, in-home and virtual options, positive reinforcement, force free

Why I became a dog trainer: because I love training animals! They light up my life, and watching the transformation between dog and handler is the most rewarding experience

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: witnessing my clients beginning to think like dog trainers

My #1 dog training tip: reward preferred behaviors and forget about the rest

Service areas: Washington DC, southern Maryland, northern Virginia

Website: https://lianafit.com


Kelly Citrin

Always passionate about animals, Kelly fell in love with her first pit bull in 2006. She began to volunteer at MCHS, and then MCASAC shelters, working with difficult to handle dogs, studying behavior - attending classes every Sunday - and training specific dogs to make them more adoptable. She also joined OPH rescue and was the lead for developing the rescue in Montgomery County, MD.

In 2008, she began to rescue and rehabilitate pit bulls and still does so today. Kelly began teaching obedience and agility at Zoom Room in 2012, and also became the “Pit Bull Mentor” for students struggling with their (mostly rescued) pit bulls. Brutus, her actively working certified therapy dog, passed his CGC and they joined NCTD in 2014, attaining additional READ Certification immediately. Together, Kelly and Brutus began working with middle school aged children with behavioral problems in alternative education schools/programs. Kelly was elected to the NCTD Board in 2016 as an officer and still serves as Secretary.

In 2021, Kelly assembled a team who shares her vision and philosophy in training and founded 4 On the Floor. Our mission is to help every dog achieve their fullest potential and live happy and healthy lives through natural and positive solutions. We use ONLY positive, force free, harm free training methods. Since our inception, we have built a wonderful community and have grown through word of mouth referrals! The highest compliment we can get is a referral and your trust in us to care for the next dog just as well as we did yours.

We hope you and your dog will join us to learn, play, and have some fun

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided:

We provide training and socialization across Montgomery county through both group classes and private sessions. We teach classes in Rockville, Bethesda and Potomac and hold private sessions across the county.

We provide basic & obedience training and behavior, modification, day training, all levels of puppies, leash reactivity, aggression, therapy dog, adolescence & adults, out and about, distractions, canine good citizen, and dog sports, including agility, rally, tricks, and scent work.

Behavioral issue focus: Leash reactivity, aggression, fear/anxiety & undersocialization, bite cases, separation distress/anxiety, transitioning OUT of shock & prong collars and other aversive devices

Training methods: 4 On the Floor is a positive and harm free based dog training company that cares deeply about each dog that comes through our programs. Our trainers are certified and insured. 4 On the Floor is founded by Kelly Citrin, an active therapy dog instructor with a working therapy dog, who serves as secretary on the board of National Capital Therapy Dogs. We have classes to meet the needs of any dog owner from puppy classes, to CGC, to agility, to those who are ready to begin their path of becoming a therapy dog. We would love to help you find the best solution for you and your dog!

Why I became a dog trainer: Because I want to help humans understand their dogs, so that they may have the strongest, most trusting relationship possible to set them up for happy and healthy lives.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Puppy classes are always fun, but it is super rewarding to help leash reactive dogs evolve through our training process and learn to feel safer around other dogs

My #1 dog training tip: Quiet is so powerful. You will be amazed at what your dog offers you if you are quiet and you wait.

Service areas: Montgomery County, MD, including Rockville, Bethesda, Kensington, Wheaton, North Bethesda, Potomac, North Potomac, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Germantown, Burtonsville, Darnestown, Olney, Germantown. Also most of Anne Arundel County and NW Washington, DC

Website: https://www.4onthefloor.dog


Joe Ryan

Joe is the General Manager of Enrichment and Training and Patrick's Pet Care. He specializes in behavior modification with a focus on reactive and aggressive dogs and has studied under Pat Miller at Peaceable Paws and Michael Shikashio, a world-renowned aggression expert.

Joe's knowledge of canine behavior mixed with his force- and fear- free training philosophies puts him among the most sought-after trainers in the DMV area. He recently came in 6th in Sniffspots Best R+ Trainers in DC of 2022 competition. Joe also works closely with nearby veterinary behaviorists to ensure the most efficient and effective care and training for his clients. 'In addition to force-free private training, Joe also manages our Small Group Classes, Drop and Train, Day Care 101, and Training Walks. He currently resides in Silver Spring and has been a part of the PPC pack since early 2018.'

Certifications: PMCT-1, CPDT-KA, FFCP (Trainer), VSA-CDT

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Reactive and Aggressive behavior consultations. Private training lessons. Drop and Train.

Behavioral issue focus: Dog-dog and dog-human aggressive and reactive behaviors, confidence building, fear-based behaviors, resource guarding, behavior modification

Training methods: R+ only! Using counterconditioning to modify emotional responses, then using DRA to modify behavioral responses.

Why I became a dog trainer: To educate people about their dogs. Which will hopefully give the dog the best quality of life possible.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing the relief from the clients, and the ah-ha moment from the dog!

My #1 dog training tip: REWARD WANTED BEHAVIORS!

Service areas: The DMV area

Website: https://patrickspetcare.com/


Arrow Weiser

I am Sparrow aka Arrow, and I am the lead trainer and one of the owners of WeiserWays. I am a dog reactivity specialist and educator and I love to spread the knowledge of positive reinforcement.

I am trans and use he/him pronouns, I am Queer and love serving the LGBTQIA+ community.

I have my undergrad in Psychology and my Masters Degree in Animal Behavior concentrated in dogs.

I focus my work on creating a space where dogs have a voice and are able to communicate freely without the fear of repercussions; while also giving humans an environment where they are able to learn without the pressure of having to be perfect, and instead being intentional, empathetic, and self-aware.

We believe that training is a collaborative approach, and use an anti-racist lens when working on training. This means we believe in being vulnerable, deconstructing perfectionism, training, and feelings; dismantling the dog/owner binary, and instead creating a space where you and your dog can learn how to love and communicate with one another authentically.

WeiserWays is a hybrid business, we train on zoom worldwide, as well as in person around the DMV area.

Certifications: 

B.S. Psychology
MSC Animal Behavior

Services include:

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

More info about service provided:

WeiserWays is a hybrid business (virtual and in person) and focuses on dog reactivity and aggression.

Our training is based in teaching the dog how to make decisions that are rewarding and enriching for both the dog and the human. In order for us to do this management is out in place to ensure that we are setting the dog up for success.

We use some cues in training, but mainly focus on teaching the dog how to make decisions on their own by giving the dog choices.

We do this so the dog learns how to make decisions and problem solve on their own instead of always waiting for the human to give them a cue.

This allows the dog to have more freedom of movement, freedom of choice.

Behavioral issue focus: I work with dogs that are lead reactive to other dogs, humans and other animals, dogs that guard their house, family, or barriers, muzzle training, dogs that are escape artists, and dogs that have bite records that need some extra TLC

Training methods:

My training begins with a 90 minute virtual consultation that is all education based. This goes over the canine ladder of aggression, dog behavior postures and body language, WeiserWays definitions, dogs hierarchy of needs, how to fill your dogs cup up, the hierarchy of dog training, what Positive Reinforcement is and how to make it a lifestyle, the wheel of emotions, stages of competence, and a basic emotions print out.

Once we finish the consultation there is a one week observation period where the dog guardian uses the education from the consultation to observe their dog and better understand their stress signals, patterns of reactivity, takes the dog to the vet, changes the environment if needed, and fills out a daily observation log.

Once the observation period is over we begin training. The human tells me what they observed in their dog, this allows the human to be kore aware of the dogs emotions and better advocate for them.

Once we begin training I have a training plan for the dog and guardian that is unique to their training needs. This plan covers the expected duration of training, exercises we will be workin on, homework, a training log for the human to fill out daily, and a training portal to upload videos, take notes, see their homework, and ask questions.

I see my clients once a week and depending on the severity of the dogs Reactivity, and if the human is doing the homework outside of training sessions we work together anywhere from one month to two years.

My training is founded in Positive Reinforcement and anti racist practices. This means we don't believe in punishment, and we dismantle the dog-owner binary. Words matter in my training, and the way we work with dogs is always collaborative and curious.

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer because I was adopted and a reactive kid when I was younger and I felt that no one understood me. It wasn't until I worked with a therapist that used her dog in our sessions that I felt more understood and comfortable. Because of my reactive past I understand reactive dogs on a different level and want to give back what they gave to me.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Teaching people the beauty of being vulnerable with their dogs, and giving dogs a space where they can be their authentic self without judgement.

My #1 dog training tip: Become more self aware of your emotions so you are able to recognize how you are feeling, this way you will not react to your dogs reactions, and you will create more space for yourself to recharge.

Service areas: I work mainly in Baltimore and Washington DC covering Baltimore city, Baltimore Country, Prince George’s county, Bethesda

I cover all of DC and am often working with clients in Capital Hill, Columbia Heights, pleasant Plains, Silver Springs, Brightwood Park, Brentwood

Website: https://weiserwaystraining.com


Melissa Dilla

Melissa and Bodhi, her Rough Collie, work as a therapy dog team, and Bodhi's also a certified R.E.A.D. dog. They're titled and active in a variety of AKC and UKC dog sports such as Obedience, Rally, Coursing, FCAT, Barn Hunting, Scent Work, Conformation, Tricks, and Herding. They've earned the CGC, CGCA, CGCU, ATT, VHM, and Farm Dog titles as well. Melissa instructs several levels of Tricks and CGC classes and conducts evaluations at a local volunteer dog training club. She's stewarded at the club, volunteered at club trials, and introduced a pilot project of Fit Dog.

Melissa and Bodhi have contributed several admissions to the AKC PupPals program. She also volunteered at Hero Dogs for several years. Over the years, Melissa has volunteered and been a representative at functions and festivals, as well as demoed with Bodhi at several workshops. In addition to her own private business, Melissa instructs classes at a non-profit in Rockville, Maryland.

Certifications: KPA-CTP, PMCT, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, SDC

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: In-person and online training classes. Private in-home sessions, day training, and Service Dog task training. Behavior consultations and modification, obedience, basic cues, potty training, and distraction training.

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, Fear, Resource Guarding, Anxiety, Aggression

Training methods: Force Free, Fear Free, Rewards-Based Positive Reinforcement Marker/Clicker Training, Behavior Consultations, Modification, and Training Plans

Why I became a dog trainer: A lifelong interest in human and animal psychology and behavior drives my passion to better understand both the complexity and simplicity of the science, emotion, and feeling beneath the surface of people and dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I enjoy bridging the gap to help people understand their dog, and to help their dog understand their people. Also, being a part of the process of creating, building, and deepening the foundation, relationship, and bond between people and their dogs - all based on mutual trust and understanding.

My #1 dog training tip: Attention is the Mother of All Behaviors

Service areas:

Potomac, Rockville, Travilah, Bethesda, North Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Olney, North Potomac,
Gaithersburg, Derwood, Silver Spring, Leisure World, Colesville, Germantown, Redland,
Cabin John, Glen Echo, Seneca, Poolesville, Laytonsville, Darnstown, Boyds, NW DC

Website: https://metropolitandog.com


Brittany Fulton

My life experiences with animals have contributed to the highly motivated dog trainer that I am today. I have a degree from the University of Oregon in psychology with an emphasis on animal behavior. I also have Certification in Training and Counseling from The Academy for Dog Trainers. Starting in 2011, I learned from and worked beside a successful dog trainer, Dina Pavlis of Surf City Dog Training, in Florence, OR.

I have interned with various domestic and wildlife organizations in Utah (Best Friends) and throughout Oregon. Since moving to the D.C. area, I completed an internship with the Smithsonian National Zoo, working on the American Trail. There, we utilized positive reinforcement training, the same approach I use with canines. You may have met me at the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C., where I taught behavior modification classes for several years. Outside of work, I have been active with local humane shelters, both fostering and volunteering.

Certifications:

Certified in Training and Counseling by The Academy for Dog Trainers
Completion of Master Course in Aggression in Dogs

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I offer in-home or virtual private sessions. I also offer in-home day training. My specialties are aggression, fear, and reactivity. My other areas of focus are obedience training, house training, and puppy training.

Behavioral issue focus: With both experience and a thorough education in fear and in aggression, I commonly address difficulty with strangers, other dogs (including reactivity), and guests. I also offer leash walking training, house training, puppy training/socialization, basic behaviors such as Stay, Come, Down, etc., and training to address other challenges associated with sharing a home with a canine.

Training methods: I use only positive reinforcement, force free methods. Initial consults involve review of the behaviors in question- why they may exist and what we can do to improve matters. Thorough session summaries are emailed along with handouts. I am available to provide support both during and after our training packages together.

Why I became a dog trainer: From a young age, I have always befriended and sought the company of animals. I have a long-time fascination with behavior, both human and non-human. I am passionate about animal welfare and want to contribute to the successful coexistence of dogs and their people. I love fostering bonds between people and dogs and seeing the development of their mutual understanding. Building communication between canine and human is a truly fulfilling endeavor for me.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love the ah-ha! moment for either the dog or the human guardian. Sometimes this moment occurs when a guardian understands why a particular approach works well or why their dog is exhibiting a certain behavior. Sometimes it's when the dog understands what their human is trying to achieve or ask for. It's a beautiful experience to witness.

My #1 dog training tip:

"Connect with your dog!" I find it incredibly valuable to improve the connection between a dog and their guardian. Once both dog and guardian expect recognition and awareness of one another, they are operating as a team. If difficult or uncertain experiences arise, they can address them together, which is comforting for both.
We can build this connection through general and targeted training in a variety of environments.

Service areas: Southern parts of Montgomery County, Maryland, Northern parts of NW Washington D.C.,

Website: https://www.dancesdogs.com/


Jennifer Shearer

My journey began as a distressed dog parent with an extremely reactive dog. In my naivety, I followed the recommendations of friends and our rescue and experienced the dark side of "balanced training" firsthand.

I realized that there is a major flaw in balanced training: Its punishment techniques are overdeveloped while its positive reinforcement techniques are severely underdeveloped. Those positive reinforcement techniques were the missing piece for my dog and me. Once we learned them, punishment started falling to the wayside until we let it go completely.

I became a dog trainer in the hopes that no other family would have to go on a wild goose chase to get results and find relief. Together we can create a community of quirky dogs and devoted owners who have the skills and knowledge to navigate our fast-changing world. As a trainer, I empower humans and their dogs equally to optimize learning at both ends of the leash. We'll build competence to create purpose-driven confidence, and I can't wait to work with you.

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Puppy Socialization, Remedial Socialization, Basic Commands, Potty Training, Leash Manners, Confidence Building, Enrichment

Behavioral issue focus: I specialize in dogs struggling with arousal-based issues, especially those exhibiting reactivity. My work is best suited for shy, fearful, and hyperactive dogs who need help learning how to manage their big feelings and cope with the human world.

Training methods: I always start with a behavior consultation, where clients can ask and share anything about their dog(s) in a safe and confidential space. From there, we develop a sustainable and accessible training plan, which utilizes in-person and virtual learning opportunities. Client support continues after completing your training plan with follow up lessons.

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer to help average folks navigate this complex, unregulated, and often contradictory industry. Dog training should be joyful, accessible, and liberating. I am excited to help dog guardians tackle difficult issues without the soul-sucking seriousness of some dog training methods.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: The best part of dog training is supporting interspecies communication! Watching a pet guardian and their dog get on the same page and respond to each other's needs is pure magic.

My #1 dog training tip: Go slow to learn fast! Cracks in your foundation will always catch up to you, so linger at the beginning to ensure a smoother future together.

Service areas: DMV, Prince George's County (MD), Charles County (MD), Fairfax County (VA), Arlington County (VA)

Website: https://www.doggedpursuits.com


Kayleigh Sullivan

I am an accomplished animal trainer with over a decade of professional experience working with various species, including elephants, marine mammals, and more, in zoological and sanctuary environments. I have shifted my focus towards enhancing the relationship between companion animals and their caregivers by fostering a two-way communication system.

My expertise covers a wide range of areas, such as cooperative care, behavior modification, manners, and puppy training. I hold certifications as a Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed. Additionally, I have a Bachelor of Animal Science degree.

To further enrich my knowledge and skills, I have attended numerous workshops and classes. When you choose to work with me, you can expect a dedicated professional who is passionate about strengthening the bond between humans and their beloved companion animals. I firmly believe in establishing relationships through positive reinforcement, trust, patience, and clear communication.

Together, we will develop a comprehensive training plan to improve behaviors and create a harmonious life for both your pet and you as their caregiver. I currently provide services through the distinguished JW Dog Training and Behavior Consulting. 

Certifications: KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA 

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Private lessons in your home or at a park- puppy manners, basic manners, and behavior modification for more complex behavior issues. 

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, fear, anxiety, over arousal, potty training, fear at the vet, cooperative care, resource guarding, socialization, common adolescent and puppy issues. 

Training methods: I take a comprehensive approach to addressing your dog's individual needs. I utilize positive reinforcement & management to promote desirable behaviors. 

Why I became a dog trainer: I take great pleasure in sharing my extensive knowledge of animal behavior to assist guardians in deepening their understanding of their dogs and facilitating better mutual understanding between them.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Bridging the gap in communication between guardian and dog. 

My #1 dog training tip: Meet your individual dog's needs. Every dog has distinct requirements that must be met in order to fulfill their needs. I can assist you in identifying these specific needs and devising a collaborative plan to ensure we address them effectively. 

Service areas: NW Washington D.C, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, McLean, Arlington 

Website:https://www.jwdogtraining.com/


Alyse Mineroff

I am a reward-based trainer and founder of Hungry Dog Training, LLC in Maryland. I am multi-certified (KPA CTP and CPDT-KA) and share my life with my husband and 3 dogs - 2 German Shepherds and a Samoyed. I enjoy participating in a variety of dog sports with each of them.

Certifications: KPA CTP, CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I offer a variety of in-home training services such as private coaching, day training sessions, and virtual coaching and online programs. These can cover anything from puppy manners training, adult dog basic training, reactive dog training, aggression, resource guarding, cooperative care, and more.

Behavioral issue focus: Fear, reactivity, anxiety, and aggression; fear at the vet; issues with handling; resource guarding

Training methods: We start with addressing the dog's basic needs and ensuring they're healthy and fulfilled - both physically and mentally. Then, I'll introduce management strategies to prevent problem behaviors from being rehearsed. Finally, we jump into training and behavior modification to replace the unwanted behaviors with better ones!

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer because I saw how prevalent harmful, dominance-based techniques were. I was a volunteer puppy raiser for a service dog organization that used these methods, and felt uncomfortable utilizing them. I wanted to offer people a kinder alternative to avoid experiencing what I did!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part of being a dog trainer is watching my human clients experience things with their dogs that they couldn't before. Whether that's a calm walk in the neighborhood, or sitting at a patio enjoying a beer, I feel every one of my clients' wins.

My #1 dog training tip: My #1 dog training tip is to find more things to reinforce! So often, we wait for the unwanted behavior to happen before stepping in. In reality, rewarding all of the good choices your dog makes is the way to get more of those!

Service areas: Montgomery County

Website: https://www.hungrydogtraining.com


Carla Blackmon

Carla has an extensive background in animal behavior, training and animal care. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). Carla has over 25 years of various animal related experience and education that she uses to formulate a customized training plan for your family and pets. Her background includes experience working for a variety of local and national veterinarians as a veterinary assistant/technician, a federal canine handler, a master's student apprentice dog guide instructor, and currently head trainer and the owner of FurEver Family, LLC. She utilizes all of her skills to provide a pet friendly, holistic training plan incorporating health, environment, personality, and family needs. Carla will create a training plan that is fun and easy for all who are involved. Carla is also a Be a Tree Presenter & Bite Prevention Educator through Doggone Safe.

Education:
B.S. Pre-Veterinary Medicine - Ferrum College
Graduate of USDA National Detector Dog Training Center
Graduate studies in M.A. of Special Education, Guide Dog Mobility - San Francisco State University/ Guide Dogs for the Blind
Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional course
Continuing education by attending seminars provided by PPG, APDT, Mid-Atlantic Behavior Conference, Ken Ramirez and more

Associations and Memberships:
Pet Professional Guild (PPG), Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), Doggone Safe, Dog Biz Thrive

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Offering personal, private, one-on-one training sessions that help build confidence, diminish destructive behaviors, teaches appropriate behaviors for releasing excess energy and encouraging calming techniques.

Behavioral issue focus: May of my clients have separation anxiety, fear based aggression, overstimulation, under-stimulation, destructive behaviors, excessive barking, leash reactivity, and general reactivity to other dogs and people.

Training methods: My training focuses on pet friendly, family friendly exercises that help your pet and your family live more comfortably together. I work on improving families one pet at a time. Prior to all training I start with a behavior consultation to get a clear picture of what your goals are for your family and your pet. We discuss what you want your dog to do and how we can go about helping that happen. We discuss health, environment, family dynamics, schedules and likes and dislikes of your pet. Then, we create an individual plan for your family. I have found that when we focus on the things we would like our pets to do quite a few of the nuisance behaviors diminish. Training should be fun for all involved and easy to implement into daily life. I can show you how.

Why I became a dog trainer: Early on I was working as Veterinary Assistant and was in charge of the regular boarders. There were two that stood out to me for different reasons. One was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. He was in our clinic often for eating things he wasn't supposed to. One day he decided to help clean up the backyard. So, he ate a bunch of sticks and leaves. He came to us and proceeded to share his bounty with us by regurgitation. Because of this behavior, he boarded with us often. He was with us for and extended stay. He had his own bowls and food. He refused food from his bowl and wouldn't touch his water. We tried all the tricks of the trade to get him to eat. He'd take treats but not eat his food. One afternoon, I took out his food and water and swapped them. I put the food in the bowl the water was in and the water in the bowl the food was in and put them in his run. He was ecstatic! Apparently, we just had the food and water in the wrong bowl. It made me laugh but also think, hmmm. What else are we missing that they are trying to tell us? The second dog was a small Shih Tzu. He had earned the reputation as being a very unfriendly boarder. I sat next to his kennel and would wait until he gradually approached me and wouldn't attack my legs or try to bite. After about a week or so, he would come sit in my lap and hang out before heading into his kennel after walks. I was the only one who could get him out of is kennel for walks and to go home. He showed me he was scared but with patience and understanding, we can get along. This started my deep dive into behavior and how we treat our pets. I wanted to learn to communicate better so our pets can live better in our world.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love watching dogs think.

My #1 dog training tip: One or two cues are all you need to have fun and be successful with your dog. It should be fun for all.

Service areas: Prince William County (Occoquan, Woodbridge, Lake Ridge, Dale City, Dumfries, parts of Manassas), Fairfax County (Lorton, Burke, Springfield, parts of Fairfax), North Stafford

Website: https://www.improvingpets.com/


Avi Israeli

I received my certification from Animal Behavior College in 2012, and have been training full time since then.

Certifications: ABCDT

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Throughout my 10 plus years training dogs in the DC area, my focus has primarily included working with leash reactive dogs in both group classes and private in home sessions, and basic through advanced obedience instruction. I recently began teaching agility again after time away from that due to COVID.

Behavioral issue focus: Leash reactivity, mild separation anxiety

Training methods: I pride myself on communication through detailed homework assignments and training plans at the completion of a behavior consultations and private sessions; providing clients with as many tools as possible to continue to work and improve their dog's behavior.

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer help owner's better understand canine behavior, and help pup's live happy well-adjusted lives!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: The relationships I've built with my clients has definitely been the highlight of my career.

My #1 dog training tip: Learn to talk dog!

Service areas: Washington, DC

Website: https://districtdogs.com/parkview/


Jackie Moyano

Jackie Moyano transitioned careers from a respiratory therapist to dog training. In addition to caring for patients, she also taught both patients and respiratory therapy students. Jackie's medical teaching experience lends itself well to teaching people how to train their dogs. Pssst! Dog training is really people training!

Jackie's dog training expertise and education comes from completing 3 of Pat Miller's training academies, attending Ken Ramirez' Animal Training Seminar at SHEDD Aquarium, attending Sue Sternberg's Eden Internship working with Alaskan husky sled dogs, plus completing all 5 of the Bailey-Farhoody chicken workshops where Jackie learned animal training science and practiced training skills with chickens. Jackie actively pursues continuing education and has added a separation anxiety credential, SAPro to her name. Jackie's training partners are her Siamese cat and her Dachshund Terrier mix. Jackie enjoys commuting much more in her electric car.

Jackie's dog enjoys riding in the electric car to wooded trails for hiking - a favorite pastime.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, PMCT, SAPro

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Behavior United, LLC has ten years of experience training dogs of all ages from puppies and adolescents to adult through senior dogs. Behavior United, LLC offers dog training for basic manners and advanced training around distractions. Behavior United LLC, also offers behavior modification for dogs experiencing reactivity, aggression, fear, and separation anxiety.

Behavioral issue focus: Jackie Moyano at Behavior United, LLC has been doing behavior modification with her own dog and clients' dogs for ten years. She really enjoys helping dogs living with reactivity, aggression, fear, and separation anxiety plus the people who love them.

Training methods: Life is challenging enough, training your companion animal doesn't have to be. Behavior United, LLC provides proven, aversive-free, efficient, reward-based solutions with all of our clients, human and animal alike. Whether it's basic canine obedience training or more serious dog behavior issues, we apply the science of behavior and a team approach to help you meet your goals. Training time should be rewarding for both people and their pets. Training/behavior consultations in-person and live online, we offer curated training/behavior modification packages and single sessions to balance your busy life with your quality pet time. All private training/behavior consultation sessions include a training plan summary with the skills introduced and tailored to your dog's needs, your lifestyle, and your goals. Between sessions, we're available for support via email, text, or phone calls as you and your dog progress.

Why I became a dog trainer:

I am a dog trainer because of my cat and my mom. In 2007 my mom passed away from breast cancer. Suddenly, life was so finite. Why am I wasting time in a career I no longer enjoy? What do I enjoy? I didn't know what my next step was, but I knew I didn't want to be a respiratory therapist for the rest of my life. Time to make another dream come true, because who knows how much time any of us has left.

I slogged through the grief abyss, experiencing milestones like marriage and buying our first home without my mom. She loved my husband and would have loved the condominium, except for the original 1980s kitchen. After surviving a challenging 3-month kitchen remodel during snowmageddon 2010, I wanted to reward myself with a companion animal. Because our condo was on the 8th floor, we decided to adopt a cat instead of a dog. We named our 1-year-old gray Siamese cat Slinky.

One night after we had gone to sleep we heard a crash. We jumped out of bed and immediately realized our kitchen design flaw. Open shelves above the countertop instead of cabinets. Slinky knocked a stemless wine glass off of the shelf. Not a great financial loss, the glass cost about $3. The financial and wellbeing impact was watching Slinky try to eat the glass! 'WHY!?' we shrieked. We were able to intervene in time and no Slinkys were harmed.

Glass eating had to be prevented. I did what anyone with animal problems does, I asked Google. I spent hours researching cat behavior articles and books. I finally ordered a book called 'Think Like A Cat' by Pamela Johnson Bennett. With a few changes in my behavior, I was able to change Slinky's behavior. That was incredibly reinforcing for me.

Helping Slinky change his behavior reminded me of my childhood dream. I wanted to work with animals! I cold-called trainers asking if I could apprentice with them. One woman turned me down because I had a cat instead of a dog. I described the training and behavior modification I had done with Slinky, but that did not matter to her. That 'no' was the best thing that happened to my training career. Because of that 'no', I apprenticed with another trainer, Sandy Modell of Wholistic Hound Academy in Alexandria, VA. Sandy told me about Pat Miller's academies at Peaceable Paws. I completed all three of Pat Miller's academies making me a Pat Miller Certified Trainer. At Pat Miller's 1st academy, another trainer told me about Bob Bailey, ScD. I worked for and completed all 5 Bailey-Farhoody Operant Conditioning Workshops where, after scientific lectures, training principles were practiced by training leghorn chickens.

In addition to numerous hours of animal training education, I passed the Certified Professional Dog Trainer exam. Between 2013 and March 2018 I volunteered at an animal shelter, I got my first paid part-time dog training job, quit my job as a respiratory therapist, transitioned to a full time dog trainer, adopted my own dog, became an entrepreneur and launched Behavior United LLC with my former business partner. Had you told me at the launch of Behavior United, LLC in 2018 that I would have to navigate a government shutdown, business partner moving away, and a pandemic, I wouldn't have believed you. But, we're still here, helping dogs and their people live their best lives!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part of being a dog trainer is helping people communicate and improve their relationship with their dogs.

My #1 dog training tip: My number one dog training tip is to ask yourself, "What do I want my dog to do?" Next, realize that your dog can't change his/her behavior until you change your behavior.

Service areas: Montgomery County, MD (Frederick MD was the closest city on the list, but it's not a place I service.)

Website: https://www.behaviorunited.com/


Desiree Lomer-Clarke

I am a former lawyer turned trainer after dealing with a reactive dog of my own. I have been training since November of 2008 in Arlington, Virginia and I have the best clients.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Protection/guard dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: At Arlington Dog Nanny I provide force-free training that will be fun for both guardians and dogs, helping to strengthen their bond while working toward our goals. I offer small classes, puppy training, board and train, day school, cooperative dog walking intensives, and more.

Behavioral issue focus: I work with dog-dog reactivity, hyperarousal, as well as anxious and fearful dogs (not fear aggressive).

Training methods: I use force-free positive reinforcement methods to train. My preference is always to coach the guardian who teaches the dog. For behavioral issues we will have a behavior consultation, form a training plan and work through it together.

Why I became a dog trainer: Because I had a dog-reactive dog who required so much care and training. The more time I spent training him the more I fell in love the science of training.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Getting to see how happy the guardians are when the changes and the learning starts to happen, tied with playing with dogs.

My #1 dog training tip: You only need to train for 3-5 minutes, five days a week. Don't think you have to commit so much time.

Service areas: Northern Virginia, DC, Maryland within the beltway

Website: https://www.arlingtondognanny.com


Jen Boyd-Morin

Jen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, and obtained her Pat Miller Certified Trainer (PMCT1) status as a top-scoring graduate of her Peaceable Paws Academies. Jen has also completed multiple intensive Operant Conditioning Workshops led by world-renowned animal trainer Bob Bailey, where she fine-tuned her hands on skills while training chickens.

Jen is committed to training and caring for animals without fear, anxiety, stress, or pain. She is the only boarding facility owner in her area to hold a Fear Free Boarding and Daycare Certification, and she is in the process of obtaining her Fear Free Trainer Certification as well.

Prior to starting Play & Train Dog Behavior, LLC, Jen worked for The Coventry School for Dogs & Their People, Inc. and was heavily involved in working with several local organizations, including Greyhound Welfare, Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW), and Prince George's County Animal Services. When she's not training, Jen can be found working in her garden or hiking, playing, & training with her 'Kentucky mutt' Skye.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, PMCT1, FFCP

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Play & Train Dog Behavior offers services for puppies, including Puppy Explorer Camp (in-home boarding for puppies ages 10 weeks to 5 months), group classes, and play groups, with an emphasis on socialization, fear free protocols for handling and veterinary care, and enrichment. We also offer reward-based private training, behavior & aggression consultations, and group classes for adult & adolescent dogs. Our training utilizes humane and effective training methods, along with a bit of humor to help pet owners achieve their training goals. Our goal is to communicate clearly and effectively with you, as well as to teach you to communicate clearly and effectively with your dog, always through a lens of empathy and compassion. We look forward to being a part of your journey with your canine companion!

Behavioral issue focus: We offer behavior consultations for dogs exhibiting noise sensitivity, fear, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, overarousal, predatory behavior, reactivity, and aggression.

Training methods: Our Training Philosophy is...

Training inspired by kindness:

Behavior change can be accomplished efficiently without the use of fear, pain, force, or intimidation. Therefore, we will never ask you to hurt or scare your dog. Instead, we coach you to: reward desirable behaviors to increase their likelihood in the future, make adjustments to the environment to increase your dog's chances of making desirable choices, address fear, aggression, and other behavior issues by changing your dog's associations and emotional state from negative to positive

We also collaborate with veterinary professionals to address contributing medical factors.

Training informed by science:

We are committed to using the most up-to-date, evidence-based training and behavior modification techniques. In order to stay informed, we regularly take professional courses, attend conferences & seminars, and read recently published literature.

Training designed to be fun:

Training dogs (and their owners) brings us joy! We want training your dog to bring you both joy as well. Focusing on 'real life' skills rather than traditional obedience cues, meeting your dog's needs through play and games, and offering your dog choices when it's safe to do so will keep training enjoyable and lead to a rewarding life with your dog!

Why I became a dog trainer: I started learning about animal behavior & training when I was fostering retired racing greyhounds and just fell in love. It was a natural progression from seeking out more knowledge and using it to help the dogs I was fostering to wanting to be able to help owners with their companion dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love helping people better understand their dogs and to see that much of the behavior we may find frustrating or difficult to live with is understandable when we look at it from the dog's perspective. And of course that we can also modify that behavior to make living together more enjoyable.

My #1 dog training tip: If you find yourself struggling with something your dog is doing, try to find a way to minimize the possibility that the behavior can happen, and then seek out help from a professional to modify the undesirable behavior.

Service areas: Serving Laurel, MD and surrounding areas

Website: https://www.playandtraindogs.com


Sarah Stoycos

Owner/Trainer of Laughing Dog Academy. I work with dogs and their people to create the best possible life together. I've been training dogs, using only force-free methods, for more than a decade. In addition to working with dogs, I previously had the opportunity to rescue seals and care for sanctuary monkeys and chimps. I am a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner.

Certifications: KPA-CTP

Services include:

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

Website:  https://laughingdogacademy.com


Juliana DeWillems

JW Dog Training & Behavior provides professional, expert dog training and behavior support to the DMV area -- primarily Arlington, NW DC, and parts of lower Montgomery County. We specialize in one-on-one lessons with clients, working virtually and in the client's home to thoroughly address behavior issues and build skills.

Training sessions are fun and low stress for both the dog and human. Using the science of learning, with an emphasis on positive reinforcement, we create effective, easy-to-follow training plans that are designed to make dogs and their owners succes

We use positive, science-based methods when working to change behavior, including clicker training, play, real life rewards, management, and more. We focus on building and reinforcing desirable behavior, while also implementing structure and management to decrease undesirable behavior. We tailor our training plans to the individual client's needs, whether it is basic manners or a more complex behavior issue such as fear, anxiety, leash-reactivity, or aggression.

We teach human clients how to better understand their dogs' behavior and communication, and help them improve their training skills to more effectively work with their dogs and see better results.

Certifications:

Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP)
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC)
Certified Behavior Consultant Canine (CBCC-KA)

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Private 1-on-1 training: in -person and virtually

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity

Training methods: Force free, positive reinforcement based

Arlington, VA
Northwest, Washington, DC

Website: https://www.jwdogtraining.com


E Foley

FoleysDogTraining.com provides beginner-friendly instruction in agility and rally obedience.

Certifications:  CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • Agility training

Service areas: Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Howard County, Silver Spring

Website: https://foleysdogtraining.com


Sophia Turshen

Sophia brings a wealth of experience in training well-behaved, well-adjusted dogs and equipping pet owners with the confidence, knowledge, and tools to maintain that training at home. Sophia is certified in Dog Training and Animal Nutrition and has worked in the field of pet care and training for over five years.

In addition to running her own professional pet care and training business, Sophia also has experience leading group classes for dogs of all ages. She has worked as a volunteer specializing in behavior and training for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria since 2019. Her greatest passion is to improve the lives of animals, and she believes that training is a vital tool in building better lives for dogs and their humans.

Areas of Focus

Leash Manners
AKC Canine Good Citizen test preparation
AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Training
AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
Separation Anxiety
Resource Guarding
Leash Reactivity

Certifications: AKC CGG evaluator, Positive Rewards certification

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I provide obedience training, reactive dog, Canine Good Citizen, agility, potty training, resource guarding, separation anxiety, day training, leash training, focus training

Behavioral issue focus: Basic manners, resource guarding, anxiety, separation anxiety, puppy socialization, dog reactivity

Training methods: I am a positive rewards dog trainer, and I offer consultations, training plans, and follow up sessions.

Why I became a dog trainer: Before working with animals, I was working a corporate soul, sucking job. After I left that place of work and was in between jobs, I walked dogs for income. I found that I absolutely loved working with animals, and then started my journey to become a dog trainer. I feel that this is what I am supposed to do with my life combining dogs and Positive, fun education to help owners and their dogs learn to communicate and bond!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love it when I see frustrated pet parents turn to me in relief when something I have suggested, or the positive training techniques make a big difference in their training journey.

My #1 dog training tip: Patience, it's a marathon, not a Sprint as you work, learn to communicate and grow together.

Service areas: I service the Washington DC Metropolitan area! Central and Southern MD, Washington DC, and Northern Virginia

Website: https://districtdogtraining.com


Mary Crawford

Mary started working with dogs professionally in 2006 as a dog daycare attendant, and started her dog training career in 2008 when she decided to apprentice under a highly experienced certified trainer. She became fascinated by canine behavior and modern training methods and decided to dedicate her professional career to learning all about dog training, social behavior, and behavior modification.
Mary also spent several years in the shelter world, working as an Animal Control Officer for the Washington Humane Society (now Humane Rescue Alliance) in Washington, DC.

In addition to overseeing the day to day operations of Wholistic Hound Academy, she manages 9 experienced trainers, 11 apprentices, leads their Apprentice Program, and offers private lessons to clients. She specializes in canine body language, canine social behavior, and aggressive behavior modification.

Mary is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). She is currently working towards an Associate Certified Canine Behavior Consultant accreditation from the IAABC and Certified Behavior Consultant Canine -Knowledge Assessed accreditation from CCPDT.

When she is not training dogs, Mary enjoys collecting houseplants, camping, flying small aircraft with her husband, and exploring dog sports with her two dogs. Mary is owned by Mayday, a chaotic border collie, Memphis, a sensitive aussie/rottie mix, and Pree, a dramatic grey tabby.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Group classes, day training, private lessons, behavior modification, aggression, puppy socialization, social behavior modification

Behavioral issue focus: Aggression towards dogs and humans, bite cases up to level 4

Training methods: Initial consultation to discuss client and dog background, history, medical influences, and draft a behavior modification plan. I use a combination of CC/DS, ABA, and R+ relationship-building exercises to address behavior issues.

Why I became a dog trainer: To provide the public with effective, humane training methods, modern behavior education, and to prevent dogs from ending up in shelters.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching dogs progress from fearful or aggressive to happy and well adjusted, with owners who support and advocate for their dog's needs

My #1 dog training tip: Don't forget to pause and look back at how far you've come.

Website: https://www.wholistichound.com/


Gwen Podulka

Puppies, Adolescent dogs, Senior dogs, Deaf dogs, Behavior Modification

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • Deaf dog training
  • Puppy training

Website: https://www.dogtrained.com/


Laurie C. Williams

Trainer and behavior consultant of 35 years

Certifications:  CCUI CDTI

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: All breeds, all ages basic through competition level.

Behavioral issue focus: Reactive behavior, resource guarding. Separation anxiety

Training methods: Positive reinforcement

Why I became a dog trainer: Love teaching people how to communicate with their dogs

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing dogs and their guardians form lifelong bonds

My #1 dog training tip: Train the dog in front of you

Service areas: Stafford County

Website: https://www.pupniro.com


Susan Matlick

I'm Sam Matlick and I'm a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). To earn this certification, I successfully passed a comprehensive exam after achieving an extensive number of training and consulting hours. It proves that I have the knowledge and experience necessary to excel as a trainer, and that I am dedicated to training as a profession. I have voluntarily pledged to adhere to a Code of Ethics, and am required to continue my professional education.

Like many trainers, my own dogs were the impetus to learn effective training skills. In 2010, I began training dogs professionally. As a volunteer for the Humane Rescue Alliance (formerly the Washington Animal Rescue League), I completed a trainer program which enabled me to work with more behaviorally challenged dogs and to teach classes at the shelter. As I gained more experience, I began to work with individual clients in addition to the group classes I was teaching. I have been extremely fortunate to have amazing, knowledgeable and generous mentors who have guided my learning and helped me to become an excellent trainer.

Certifications:  Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)

Services include:

  • Puppy training

Website: https://trainmydogandme.com/


April Chillari

My name is April and I am the owner and operator of Core Canine. I obtained my dog training certification through Animal Behavior College. My love of dogs brought me to volunteer with rescues and shelters. I realized, through these volunteer efforts, that behavior is the #1 reason owners surrender their dogs. I decided the best way to prevent dogs from being surrendered was to become a trainer myself.

I work with dogs of all ages on fundamental obedience and behavior issues, helping them to be better members of their families. I've worked with dogs from shelters and rescues and with purebred dogs from breeders. I am passionate about dog training and believe that every dog deserves to reach their full potential.

I believe that owning a dog is an amazing and rewarding experience, but also a responsibility, not a luxury. Training your dog properly will lead you to a greater understanding of the animal, and I firmly believe in the owner-pet relationship being one of mutual understanding and respect. I immerse you fully in the training process, and with this approach, I find that owners end up learning as much, if not more, than their pets. My goal is to work with you and your dog, every step of the way, to find the best possible solutions in creating a solid relationship between you and your furry best friend.

Certifications: ABCDT

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: We provide private in-home training and group classes at our facility. We work with all dogs on basic obedience and problem behaviors.

Behavioral issue focus: Leash aggression, resource guarding, nipping, jumping, loose leash walking

Training methods: We are positive reinforcement trainers and offer pay-as-you-go sessions

Why I became a dog trainer: To help keep dogs in their homes and to build better relationships between people and their dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: When people see how much better their dogs are doing using the training techniques they learned with us.

My #1 dog training tip: Be consistent!!

Service areas: Alexandria, Arlington, Annandale, Springfield, Falls Church

Website: https://www.corecanine.com


Kathryn Kuhlen

I have been a professional dog trainer for about 10 years. Before that I was a practicing lawyer. I also have been a screenwriter and a news reporter

Certifications: KPA-CPT, CPDT-KSA, CTDI, ADPI, FitPaws Master Trainer

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Manners classes, Behavioral classes, sports classes, canine fitness, puppy classes, private sessions

Behavioral issue focus: chase, reactivity, lack of connection with owner, lack of impulse control

Training methods: group classes include demos and owner practice, and notes with exercise descriptions and video demos//privates include history, session plans, followup notes with descriptions and video demos

Why I became a dog trainer: I love dogs!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing dogs and their owners forming a bond through the development of a mutual language, mediated by clear and fun training

My #1 dog training tip: Listen to your dog

Service areas: Fairfax County VA and Alexandria City VA

Website: https://wholistichoundAcademy.com


Amy Pike

Dr. Pike has been caring for patients for well over 20 years. After graduating from Colorado State University in 2003, she was commissioned as a Captain in the US Army. There, she was the head veterinarian for her base’s small veterinary clinic, caring for 200 Customs and Border Protection horses, and 15 Military Working dogs. It was Dr. Pike's experinces with Military Working Dogs that originally piqued her interest veterinary behavior. After leaving active duty, Dr. Pike was able to further her love for behavior. As a civilian, she continued her work with some of these dogs at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, D.C.

As her love for behavior blossomed, she began her residency program. Under the mentorship of Dr. Debra Horwitz, Dr. Pike spent 3 years seeing behavior cases, taking additional college courses in psychology and advanced animal sciences, completing her research on thunderstorm phobias and studying for the grueling two day board examination. In October 2015, she became one of fewer than 70 Boarded Veterinary Behaviorists in all of North America.

As a Veterinary Behaviorist, she has dedicated much of her time to improving education in the field. She has written various articles for professional veterinary journals such as Clinician's Brief, Pet Quarterly, and The Team. She has been interviewed for other articles in both periodical magazines, online forums and newspapers. She is Fear Free Certified and serves as a member of the Fear Free Advisory Committee. Dr. Pike also serves on the Board of Directors of The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (Virginia), and the American College of Veterinary Behavior's Board of Regents, where she is Head of the Specialty Training Committee. Dr. Pike acts as an instructor for E-Training for Dogs, an online education program, is mentor to her own residents, (Robyn Hayes, DVM, and Esther Eng, DVM), was an editorial advisory member for the American Veterinarian publication, and continues to present at National Veterinary Conferences around the world multiple times per year.

Since moving to Northern Virginia in the summer of 2016, she has dedicated her work toward building a network of behavior resources. She is currently the co-owner of the two ABWC locations (with Dr. Learn). Here in Fairfax, she sees pets with behavior disorders that range from mild fears to extreme aggression, compulsive disorders and panic disorders. With her extensive knowledge, caring nature, and masterful management abilities, she has gathered a team of behavior professionals that are able to tackle any behavior problem. As her influence in the region grows, she is working to expand prevention services with her support staff by providing socialization classes and patient handling workshops for other veterinary professionals.

Certifications: DVM, DACVB, IAABC-CDBC

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Behavior Modification for serious behavioral issues

Behavioral issue focus: Anxiety, Aggression, Phobias, Compulsive disorders

Training methods: Behavior consultations, training plans, positive reinforcement training and psychotropic medication if applicable

Why I became a dog trainer: My love for veterinary medicine combined with psychology

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: The relationships with the humans

My #1 dog training tip: Have fun- if you arent enjoying it, and your pet isnt either, rethink the plan!

Service areas: Baltimore, Washington DC, Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria

Website: https://abwellnesscenter.com


Vivian Leven

Certified Behavior Consultant Canine – Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)

Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge & Skills Assessed (CPDT-KSA) through the Certification of Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)

Fear Free Certified Professional through Fear Free Pets

Certified Family Paws Parent Educator through Family Paws

Holds the status of TAGteach Primary through TAGteach International

Professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT)

Professional Member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG).

Associate Member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)

Currently serves on the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers Examination Committee as subcommittee member for the KSA exam.

Certifications:  CBCC, CPDT, IAABC Associate, Family Paws, Fear Free

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Behavior consulting business, all private sessions

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, separation anxiety, resource guarding, impulse control, anxiety

Training methods: Modern dog training (all positive) anchored in animal behavior science and learning theory.

Why I became a dog trainer: I adopted a rescue dog with behavior challenges and it was very difficult to find qualified help. It became the launching pad for me to learn as much as I could about behavior and help other people and their dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: As a dog behavior consultant I like the creative aspect of coming up with approaches and solutions that work for that person and dog. Also to see the outcome of good results, grateful clients and happier dogs staying in their homes.

My #1 dog training tip: Build on reinforcing your dog to do what you want and less energy focusing on what you don't want

Service areas: Metro DC area (Nova, MD)

Website: https://www.positivedogsolutions.com


Julie Davidson

I became a trainer as a result of adopting a dog who turned out to be extremely reactive to other dogs. I had to become a very educated consumer. The number of trainers who don't truly understand how to best help the dog was disturbing to me when I looked for help with my dog. Learning about dog behavior, emotions and cognition has brought my connection with dogs to a new level. It is amazing to get to know so many wonderful animals.

Services include:

  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I have been working with 4 On The Floor Dog training as a trainer for the past few years. The company offers puppy classes, dog sports classes, reactive dog classes and in-person private training sessions for cues and behavior modification, as well as offering virtual session.

Behavioral issue focus: I often work with reactive dogs. I also work with dog's that are easily over-aroused or particularly fearful. I enjoy getting to know each dog and helping people better understand their dog's motivations and needs, and helping them create a plan that starts by addressing the dog's emotional state and well being.

Training methods: I see the first step as learning about the dog in front of me, and determining what is motivating the dog's behavior. I help the owner create a plan using enrichment, routine & prevention to create an environment that meet the dogs needs. I empower the owner with information and tools that helps them keep their dog's from going over threshold so we can lower their stress levels. Once that has succeeded, we begin desensitization at a level the dog can easily cope with, and create a plan that progresses at a pace that is set by the dog. All training of cues is done with reinforcement-based training. The equipment I recommend is a harness that attaches on a front ring. My goal is to teach the dog that s/he is safe in the world, learning and new experiences can be fun, and that it always makes sense to listen to their people.

Why I became a dog trainer: To help advance knowledge and understanding of proper training techniques, and make the world a safer, happier better place for dogs!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing the lives of dogs and their people improve.

My #1 dog training tip: Be aware of your energy and how your dog responds to it.

Service areas: Montgomery County, MD

Website: https://4onthefloor.dog


Becky Causey

32 years training experience, competition obedience titles, professional service dog trainer

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: pain free, force free, positive trainer for private in home obedience, AKC evaluator, service dog training, board and train

Behavioral issue focus: puppy training, basic and advanced obedience, leash manners, AKC CGC

Training methods: evaluations of behavior and environment and positive reinforcement training to resolve behaviors with comprehensive approach

Why I became a dog trainer: To help families and their dogs to live happily together

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love helping people understand their dogs' behavior and how to help achieve the training to create the family pet they want

My #1 dog training tip: Pay attention and reward good choices!

Service areas: Jefferson and Berkeley Co WV, Frederick, Washington and Montogomery CO MD, Winchester and Loudoun CO VA

Website: https://www.CauseyLabradorsandTraining.com


Tara Murtagh

Tara has a bachelor of science degree from Suffolk University in Boston, MA. She is a Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. She is also a certified Fear Free Animal Trainer.

Tara comes to Dog Latin from Homeward Trails Animal Rescue where she served as the rescue's Behavior Manager. Prior to that time, she was a member of the Behavior Team at Austin Pets Alive, a large animal shelter in Austin, TX.

Tara also has experience volunteering at shelters and animal rescues across the country. Working and volunteering in animal shelters has given Tara the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with a variety of different behavior challenges among dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds.

When she's not working, Tara enjoys spending her free time with her husband and three rescue pitbulls, Junebug, Boo and Squeak.

Certifications: CBCC, CPDT-KA, Fear Fear Certified Animal Trainer

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Private sessions and day training

Behavioral issue focus: On-leash reactivity, resource guarding, fear-based issues, human directed aggression and dog directed aggression.

Training methods: Behavior consultations, custom behavior plans (including training, management and enrichment needs for each client)

Why I became a dog trainer: I am fascinated by both animal and human behavior, and I love finding ways to help people and their pets live successfully and happily together, and strengthen the bond between pet and pet parent.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping build confidence and trust between dog and handler

My #1 dog training tip: Training should be fun and empowering for dogs and humans!

Service areas: Washington DC, Potomac, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Alexandria, Arlington

Website: https://doglatindogtraining.com/


Sniffspot Washington Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Washington DC dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Washington DC 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 Washington DC 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 Washington DC?

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 Washington DC 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 Washington DC cost?

Washington DC 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 Washington DC dog trainer. How can I get listed here?

As long as you have a training facility or do in person training in Washington DC 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.

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Merlin Noble

June 23, 2023

Dog Trainers

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