The Best Dog Trainers in Charlotte, NC of 2022

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Welcome to the Charlotte, NC Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2022. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Charlotte based on votes from the Sniffspot community and the general public. Over 45,000 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 North Carolina list.

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 100% 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 Charlotte, NC Dog Trainers in 2022

Ruth Hayter

Ruth was raised with German Shepards growing up and always loved having a fur companion around. I started as a Veterinarian Assistant back in 2014, this then transitioned into my dog training career.

My first dog as an adult was a rescue named, Stark. Stark was thrown out of a car by his previous owners and had some serious trauma by the time he came to me. I went on a mission to try to rehabilitate my dog, Stark, read more of his story here.

I saw the need for more trainers that specialize in behavior problems and the disconnect. In 2017, Ruth started out dog training by going through an intensive dog training academy as a balanced trainer. After realizing that she wanted to dig deeper into behavioral issues and have a softer approach than balanced training. Ruth started A-Z DOGS LLC at the beginning of the pandemic in May 2020.

Ruth is married to her best friend, Alan Hayter, and they have three dogs together. Oakley an Akita/Heeler Mix, Zena a Husky/Pitty Mix, both five years old, and Bean a 5lb Chihuahua. Each of Ruth & Alan’s personal dogs has helped shape their training programs to teach you how to become the best dog parent possible.

Services include:

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


Emily Greene

Hi! I’m Emily and I own Free Will Animal Training in Charlotte, NC. We specialize in aggression, anxiety-related concerns, and leash reactivity.

Services include:

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


Cheryl Connolly

Cheryl is passionate about dogs and it shows when she comes to your house or holds a group class. She holds fear free and clicker trainer certifications enabling your dog or puppy to be a willing participant who is enthusiastic to learn. She is patient with both the animal and human parts of the team.

Focus is on what everyone is doing right and building behaviors from successful starting points

Certifications: Fear free, Karen Prior CTP

Services include:

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


Trish McMillan

Trish McMillan is a certified professional dog trainer (through CCPDT), certified dog behavior consultant and associate certified cat behavior consultant (through IAABC) who holds a Master’s degree in Animal Behavior from the University of Exeter in England. She specializes in training and behavior modification work using positive reinforcement with dogs, cats, and horses.

During her seven years with the ASPCA, Trish gained a wide variety of experience in the field of animal behavior. For three years she was the director of the animal behavior department at the ASPCA’s New York City shelter, helping staff, volunteers, and adopters work with animals and make great matches. Trish has also helped assess and rehabilitate animals from cruelty, hoarding, and dogfighting cases, as well as pets rescued from natural disasters. In addition to writing for the ASPCA’s Virtual Pet Behaviorist and other publications, she helped create and present several very popular webinars on dog and cat behavior and handling for the ASPCA Pro website.

Trish also co-chairs the Shelter Behavior division of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and runs an online shelter behavior mentorship through IAABC twice a year.Prior to her work with the ASPCA, Trish managed dog daycares, volunteered in animal shelters, taught obedience classes, and worked with board-and-train dogs in her home. She has also trained and shown horses in various disciplines, and has been incorporating clicker training in her equine work for many years now. Trish has also worked with cats with behavior problems, and enjoys helping our feline friends have more enriched lives through clicker training as well. (Yes, cats can be trained!)

Trish presents and consults nationally and internationally on canine, feline and equine behavior as well as on sheltering topics.

Certifications: Certified Professional dog trainer (through CCPDT), Certified dog behavior consultant and Associate Certified cat behavior consultant (through IAABC) who holds a Master’s degree in Animal Behavior from the University of Exeter in England

Services include:
  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training
Behavioral issue focus:

I specialize in working with ear, anxiety and aggression issues, but I also work with puppy issues, rowdy adolescents, most behavior problems.

Training methods:

In person behavior consultations here at my farm or via zoom.

Service area:

Asheville NC area – Mars Hill, Marshall, Asheville, Weaverville, Buncombe, Madison, and Yancey Counties


Matt Barfield

Hey there my name is Matthew, but you can just call me Matt. Let me tell you a little bit about myself, I’ve been with Through The Leash for a little bit over 2 years. Before then my love and fascination for animal of all sizes drew me towards the science of animal studies in college.

Despite knowing and pursuing my passion for animals I still wasn’t sure wanted to do as a career, until I meet one of lead training directors at Through The Leash. He had been in a training session with one of my relatives when I saw him in action. The way he was communicating with the dog was mesmerizing for me to watch, inspiring even.

After the session I got a chance to talk with him, I was able to have the great opportunity of shadowing and eventually being mentored to take over the branch of the South Florida team. I have learned so many things, I’ve met so many great people and great dogs, I’m blessed to be a part of this family. And I can’t wait to meet you and your pup, until then I hope you have a wonderful day!

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training


Gloria Schmidt

Gloria Schmidt is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), Fear Free Certified Pet Professional (Level 3), and an AKC Canine Good Citizen approved evaluator. Prior to becoming a professional dog trainer, Gloria graduated with a degree in chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill.

She enjoyed her five years at the lab bench especially when contributing to drug discovery research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. While there, she helped declare a clinical candidate with the FDA and co-authored seven journal articles for various pediatric diseases. In 2017, Gloria decided she was ready to get out of the (lab) rat race. She began working as a veterinary nurse for two years while simultaneously developing her professional dog training skills.

Although she no longer actively runs chemistry experiments, she carries over that analytical thinking to each dog and owner who crosses her path. Gloria developed a strong interest in cooperative care while working as a veterinary nurse – her long term goal is to bridge the communication gap between veterinary clinics, dog trainers, and owners. She also enjoys helping owners understand ‘the why’ behind a dog’s behavior so that everyone can be set up for success during training sessions.

When not with clients, Gloria enjoys living her best Hobbit life with her husband John, border-collie pup Jackson, and fierce cat Penny. On the average day, you will find her curled up with the pets by the fireplace, sipping a cup of coffee, and immersed in a book (most likely about dog behavior). On the more adventurous days, you will find her downhill skiing or SCUBA diving with John.

Certifications: Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), Fear Free Certified Pet Professional (Level 3), and an AKC Canine Good Citizen approved evaluator

Services include:

  • Reactive dog training


Sniffspot Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get in touch with these 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 dog trainers certified professionals?

Each dog trainers certifications are listed in their profile. Dog training is not regulated at the federal or state level, so there is no standard dog training certification. However, many private institutions offer certifications. 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.

What methods do these dog trainers teach?

There are many methods for teaching dogs. All of the trainers included on this list are positive reinforcement only, as defined by no force, fear, intimidation, or aversive methods used. You can see more information in each trainer’s profile regarding their training specialties.

How much do these dog trainers cost?

Dog trainers have a wide range of costs for different services. 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. Going through a training process with your dog can improve the bond that you share with them. Also, training can do a lot to improve the confidence of a dog; it gives them more certainty that they understand how the world around them works. And lastly, it’s just fun for the dog and for you. Training can be very stimulating and enriching for a dog.

Can an aggressive dog be trained?

Yes! Any dog behavior can be worked on through training. Aggression 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. If you believe you have an aggressive dog, we recommend reaching out to one of your local top trainers to get their diagnosis and advice.

I am a trainer. How can I get listed here?

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.

See The Best Dog Trainers In Other Cities Near Charlotte

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

Nashville, TN
Richmond, VA
Virginia Beach, VA

See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near North Carolina

South Carolina

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