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How I Became a Professional Dog Trainer

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I really shouldn’t like dogs.

At 18 months old I was bitten in the face by our family dog, Luke (left). The scar on my face is still easy to spot.

At 10, I was chased down the street by a friend’s dog.

Then at 14, I was bitten by another dog while babysitting their two kids.

So unlike a lot of animal professionals, I haven’t “always liked dogs.”

Then came Trixie.

Trixie was the best!

She joined our family when I was in 7th grade and showed me that I wanted to become a dog trainer. She was my best friend and taught me so many lessons throughout her life.

It was at her puppy classes that I knew dog training was what I wanted to do with my life. It was so fun, so freeing, and so relaxing.

In my senior year of high school, I made it very clear to all my teachers and advisors I wanted to become a dog trainer. I was told to go to school, get a degree, and find a real job.

That is exactly what I did… well, kind of.

I moved to NYC to pursue my undergraduate degree at The City College of New York (CCNY). But, while in school full time, I also worked full time in various dog related positions. First at a dog daycare, then as a dog walker, then an apprentice for a dog trainer.

In 2015 I graduated CCNY with degrees in Advertising & Public Relations, and Digital Design. And that same year I became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CCPDT – KA) through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

Much to the dismay of several professors, I ignored the degrees I had just received, and I jumped right into dog training full time. I liked what I studied in school, but so far nothing had convinced me to give up dog training, so I didn’t. I knew dog training was what I was meant to do.

For the next 5 years I worked hard building my business, training dogs, and surviving in NYC (lol). Along the way I completed a variety of other certifications, including a certificate in Applied Animal Behavior through the University of Washington. I also had a lot of fun with dog training side projects such as my monthly newsletter, blog posts, and posters I created about dog training.

All of these side projects have been important to me because I believe that if people are looking for quality information to help them train and understand their dog better, they should have a way to access it.

When I graduated CCNY I knew that at some point I wanted to go to grad school, I just had to wait patiently until I found the right program. Luckily, in 2020 that goal became a reality and I enrolled in Virginia Tech’s School of Agriculture and Life Science in their Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare online Master’s degree program.

I had a lot of fun with my classes, and surprisingly fell in love with research!

Under the mentorship of Drs. Erica N. Feuerbacher and Lisa Gunter, I carried out research examining puppy owners’ perceptions of puppy socialization and their ability to interpret canine body language.

I never had considered that I could be someone who did research, I’m not a science person! But, I guess it turns out that I am. In the future I would like to pursue a PhD, write a book, and do some speaking engagements. But, I love training dogs, and no matter what path I go down, I can’t see a future for myself that does not include dog training.

But, Do You Actually Know What You Are Doing?

Yes, I do! I promise! And I also promise that if and when I don’t I will let you know, refer you to a different professional, and/or ask for help.


  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer – KA
  • Certified Behavior Consultant Canine – KA
  • Family Paws Family Educator
  • Fear Free Certified Professional
  • Certified Trick Dog Instructor
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • American Safety and Health Institute, Pet First Aid Certified
  • Masters of Science in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare

Fun Facts


My favorite flavor of ice cream is Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food, and there is never a time it’s too cold to enjoy a bowl.

My favorite color is green. It always has been and I’m sure it always will be. Sometimes its a problem because I buy green everything, but they are all in different shades and then nothing goes together.

My favorite movie, by far, is the original karate kid. It’s the only movie I never get tired of watching. I might know all the words by now.

My favorite day of the week is Friday. Is it weird I have a favorite day of the week? I always find it so nice to know that I have the whole weekend ahead of myself and some time to catch my breath.

Where in the World:

I have absolutely no idea what country I would live in if I had to live in another country. I would probably prefer somewhere that had more warm weather than cold weather. And I would probably want somewhere that has a larger population instead of a smaller population. And of course, there must be dogs! But I’m not sure if I have traveled enough to know where else I would want to live.

There are currently three vacation destinations on my bucket list. I want to visit Iceland to see the northern lights, visit London, and to visit San Francisco to see the giant sequoia trees. I think that San Francisco is likely to happen first, and I want to bring Dustin with me to see the giant sequoias!

The best vacation I have ever been on was to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was the first family trip we went on that was purely for fun and was not to visit a relative. We had so many new adventures as a family, I loved the weather, and we stayed in the gorgeous Viejo San Juan.

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