The Best Dog Trainers in North Carolina of 2022

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Welcome to the North Carolina Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2022. This is a list of the top dog trainers in North Carolina 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 compiled 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 North Carolina Dog Trainers in 2022

Comora Tolliver

I help families navigate their world with the canine companions they love. I teach owners how to set their dogs up for success and reach their goals using humane, science based training strategies based on the individual. I also offer puppy, cgc, manners, and reactive dog classes.

Certifications: KPA CTP, Fear Free Certified, AKC EVALUATOR, Family Dog Mediator

Services include:
  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
Behavioral issue focus:

I work with many behavioral concerns. Reactivity and fear aggression is at the top of the list.

Training methods:

As a science based positive reinforcement trainer and a Family Dog Mediator, I consider everything including the dogs breed, history, environment, and behavior. This allows for a training plan to evolve that fills the dogs emotional cup and allows pet parents to engage in a successful relationship with their dog.

Service area:

Hendersonville, NC (local in person) world wide for video/phone consults

Website: https://www.barkersanonymous.com


Amber Marie Kirby

Having served in the Army for 16 years, I’m a medically retired Military Working Dog Handler that started my own training company in the summer of 2015. Patriot K Nine Training & Behavior was founded to help keep dogs out of shelters by providing quality training to owners that is understandable and fits in their schedule and budget.

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Board and train
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Off leash training

Website: https://www.patriotk-nine.com


Caitlin Morrow

Caitlin Morrow, head trainer for Behavior Tails, achieved her first dog training credential in 2007. Her constant pursuit of continuing education has resulted in a Bachelors of Science in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as well as an Associates Degree in Veterinary Medical Technologies. She is a registered Veterinary Technician in the State of North Carolina. After graduating with honors from Animal Behavior College, Caitlin began interning with a certified Behavior Consultant and spent many years working and leading a team of dog trainers in Asheville.

Caitlin continues to hold certifications and professional memberships to organizations that require case logs, knowledge assessment exams, continuing education requirements and a strict set of professional guidelines that all members are held accountable to. After spending over a decade working in Western North Carolina, Caitlin knows most of the local veterinarians and vet techs and comes highly recommended by other dog trainers, past clients and the veterinarian community.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, SDC, RVT, fear free certified professional

Services include:
  • Aggressive dog training
  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
Behavioral issue focus:

Aggression Issues, Anxiety Issues, Leash Reactivity, Inner Dog Aggression, Excessive barking, Housetraining, Jumping, Nipping, Biting, Counter Surfing, Pulling on leash,
Not coming when called, Not listening

Training methods:

Behavior Consultations, Private Training Appointments, Group Classes, Written Training Plans and Instructions

Service area:

Zoom, Haywood County, Clyde, Waynesville, Canton, Balsam, Candler, Buncombe County, Asheville, Sylva, Franklin, Cullowhee

Website: https://www.behaviortails.com


Logan Buie

Rooted in science and kindness, The Misbehaving Mutt offers virtual positive reinforcement-based dog training services. I am based in Raleigh, NC but serve people and their dogs worldwide. I offer general manners and life skill training, as well as behavior modification programs. I am particularly passionate about helping reactive and fearful dogs.

Certifications: KPA-CTP, SA Pro Trainer

Services include:

  • Reactive dog training

Website: https://www.themisbehavingmutt.com/


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

Website: https://www.a-zdogs.com


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

Website: http://www.freewillanimaltraining.com


Zoe Hawkins Wells

Native of Key West, local to Asheville, NC, Zoe’s training melds together skill building, better communication/vocabulary, education of dog behavior, cognition and emotion, and applied behavioral theories and therapies. The result is a more understood, cooperative, confident and stable dog looking back up at you.

Zoe is here to joyfully serve you and your canine companions and looks forward to helping both species connect, grow and thrive. She holds a CPDT certification and thousands of hours dedicated to training, behavior consultation and modification.

Certifications: CPDT

Services include:
  • Aggressive dog training
  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training
Behavioral issue focus:

Hyper activity, anxiety, leash issues, fear, reactivity, shyness/timidity, aggression, pulling, separation distress, resource guarding.

Training methods:

Positive reinforcement-based methods that combine therapeutic approaches (exposure, desensitization, experiential learning), skill building and nuanced communication to instill comfort and boundaries. Training starts with intake and consultation then following a training plan.

Service area:

Asheville, NC and surrounding areas

Website: https://www.upwarddogtraining.com


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

Website: https://indiantraildogtraining.com


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

Website: https://trishmcmillan.com/


Susan Krieg

After many years working with veterinarians, training facilities, grooming salons, and animal rescue organizations, in 2014 I opened Paws 4 Peace in Louisburg, North Carolina. My training techniques are derived from a holistic and compassionate perspective. I have found the use of positive approach training to be the most effective and creates long lasting results. Understanding the subtle nuances of canine communication is key to my success as a dog trainer.

Teaching people how to connect and communicate with their canine family members; assisting Veterans and others with disabilities regain and enjoy their lives with the help of Service Dogs, are incredibly rewarding.Training opportunities for me, have run the gamut from basic manners and obedience to Puppy Basics, Conformation, Agility, Rally-O, Distraction-Proofing, Canine Musical Freestyle, Aggressive Behavior, Emotional Challenges, and finally to Therapy and Service Dog Training and Certification. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Education in Applied Behavioral Analysis in 2000 and 2001, respectively.

In addition, I trained and mentored under Dr. Ian Dunbar, DVM, well-known for his positive animal training methodology. I also worked with Dr. Barbara Sherman, DVM of NC State University. I am a member of APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) and a certified Evaluator with the AKC (American Kennel Club) for Canine Good Citizen, and STAR Puppy Evaluation (Socialization, Training, Activity, & Responsible Owner).Career opportunities provided me with an interesting background. I worked my way through college grooming and training dogs.

I owned a successful 12-year business in Ohio, taught Special Education, worked as lead trainer/behavioral consultant for several NC animal hospitals and rescue organizations. In 2010, I was honored to be invited by Dos Amigos to teach university-level classes to a group of veterinarians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and animal rescue groups at the University of Chile, Santiago, Chile. Dos Amigos is the only non-profit organization in Chile specializing in the training and placement of Therapy and Service dogs. I have continued my teaching focus by creating public awareness by speaking to groups and holding in-service sessions for veterinarians, schools, corporations, organizations, and law enforcement.

Avid animal lovers, my husband Mike and I have shared their home with dogs, cats, parrots, and rabbits. We currently live in central North Carolina with three cats, Service Dogs Gavin (a Leonberger), Lotus (a Border Collie), Bodhi (a Labrador Retriever), Trexie (an Australian Shepherd), and Gabriel (a Cocker Spaniel); however, that number could change at any moment, as we are actively involved in animal fostering and rescue. We enjoy the beach, working with our dogs, hiking, and watching football, especially when The Ohio State Buckeyes are winning!

Certifications: Trained and mentored under Dr. Ian Dunbar, DVM, well-known for his positive animal training methodology. I also worked with Dr. Barbara Sherman, DVM of NC State University. I am a member of APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) and a certified Evaluator with the AKC (American Kennel Club) for Canine Good Citizen, and STAR Puppy Evaluation (Socialization, Training, Activity, & Responsible Owner).

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training

Website: http://paws4peaceusa.com/


Nora Torrey

Nora has an extensive customer service and medical admin background, however, she also had a passion for working with dogs her whole life and has volunteered at animal sanctuaries and shelters on and off for years. In 2017, she decided to quit her desk job and start her own pet care business. Getting to work with more dogs every day (and learning their body language) naturally led to dog training. After working at All Dogs Allowed as a group class trainer, she was happily given the opportunity to take over ownership.

Nora has completed multiple certificates including her CATCH Dog Training Academy Masters Program Certificate and Fear Free Trainers Course. She also is passionate about continuing her training education through reading, observing other trainers, or falling into the online dog training world. Nora loves getting to work with both dogs and their owners to help them develop and strong, happy relationship.Nora and her husband have two dogs, George (pictured) and Frankie, a sassy Boston Terrier. They enjoy spending time going on long walks and hikes with their pups.

And in the rare time Nora isn’t doing something with dogs she enjoys reading, occasionally knitting, or looking for more plants to buy.

Certifications: Multiple certificates including her CATCH Dog Training Academy Masters Program Certificate and Fear Free Trainers Course

Services include:

  • Reactive dog training

Website: https://alldogsnc.com


Melanie Berk

When Melanie was a child, she made up her own imaginary nonprofit called “P.A.W. (Paws Across the World), so some might say her career path has been unsurprising. Studying Psychology and the Environment at Oberlin College provided a foundation of thinking about behavior change and community-based solutions.

From there she hopped over to Massachusetts (brr!) in search of a Master’s degree in Animals and Public Policy at Tufts Vet School.Along the way she found a job at the MSPCA (a real nonprofit), her dog Seamus, and husband, Brendan, so she thinks the winters were worth it. Nevertheless, when the opportunity to move to Durham arose, she was quick to pack up Seamus, Brendan, and her horse, Nick, and migrate south, where Shiloh the mischievous beagle became the newest addition to the family.

Her lifelong passion for animal behavior and welfare translates naturally into dog training with the shelter and community in mind. Her goals for the dog training program include improving the behavioral health and enrichment of dogs both currently at Paws4ever and in the greater community, increasing successful adoptions, and building better communication & understanding between human and canine kind, so both can lead happier, fuller lives!

She has her certification in professional dog training (CPDT-KA) and is continually seeking to learn more about dogs and how to best help them, so enjoys opportunities for continuing education, such as conferences and seminars. She even takes her work home with her‚ she loves bringing home shelter animals for foster vacations so they can destress and get some TLC while awaiting their forever homes. She is always happy to talk about dogs, so make sure to say hello and bring your canine questions!

Certifications: Master’s degree in Animals and Public Policy at Tufts Vet School,
Certification in professional dog training (CPDT-KA)

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training

Website: https://paws4ever.org/


Joanne Ometz

Joanne grew up in an apartment that did not allow dogs. That did not keep her from having an endless stream of guinea pigs, hamsters, parakeets, small parrots, and gerbils. She also dragged stray dogs home and shut them in the apartment complex playground, hoping she could keep them.

There were several cats in her life as well, and a rabbit named Nijinsky for his ability to leap straight up in the air and come down facing a different direction. In short, Joanne was obsessed with animals of all kinds. She loved animals and they were always a part of her life, but Joanne was also fascinated with people and eventually decided to become a social worker, working in mental health nonprofits.

This was rewarding, but she felt something was missing. In 2009, Joanne adopted a little white dog named Sadie and took an obedience class with an instructor who taught her clicker training. That was when it all ‘clicked’ Joanne loved training with Sadie so much, in 2011 she started a dog club in the Gateway Arts District of Prince Georges County, MD called the Gateway Dog Club.

She continued to learn positive reinforcement training and taught during their bi-weekly meetings. She had found her true calling working with people and their dogs. This blossomed into a new career when she took Turid Rugaas’ course. Joanne is one of a select few in the US to have completed Turid’s course and is a Turid Rugaas Certified Dog Trainer. Shortly after, she took the Karen Pryor professional dog trainer course. Combining her compassion and skills with dogs and people, Joanne uses her unique perspective to enhance the human-dog bond. Through merging force-free training with teaching people to better understand their canine companions, she helps dogs reach their true potential.

Certifications: Turid Rugaas’ course and a Turid Rugaas Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Karen Pryor professional dog trainer

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training

Website: https://durhamdogtrainingcenter.com/


Heather Polechio

Heather is a native of the Asheville area and shares her home in Asheville, NC with her four dogs, Cosmo, a 15 yr old German Shepherd mix, Sage, a 10 yr old American Bulldog, Otchot, a 9 year old Shiloh Shepherd and Molly, a 3 year old Jack Russell Terrier, who keeps her on her game!Heather was an honors graduate in 2009 from the California based, San Francisco Academy for Dog Trainers and Behavior Counseling where she gained a formal education in the field of Canine Behavior and the principles of Scientific Learning Theory.

Heather has received a Nationally recognized Certificated Training Credential (CPDT-KA), as well as being a professional member of one of the largest dog training organizations in the country, The Association of Professional Dog Trainers.Heather has been awarded best of WNC 2017 and 2018.As well as serving as one of five Professional Behavior Team members of the nationally held, Camp Unleashed off leash Dog Camps, Heather also proudly served as the Head Trainer for three years with an Asheville based Canine Behavior Consulting and Training company, The Dog Door, before opening her private practice, Asheville Mindful Mutz Training and Behavior Consulting.

Heather has a passion for animal welfare & rescue organization involvement and is honored to be offered the opportunity to do ongoing educational community presentations, lectures as well as staff training programs for some of the areas non-profit animal welfare groups and shelters. Heather was honored in 2012 to be nominated as a candidate, and later approved to become a registered trainer with the nationally recognized No-Kill animal sanctuary Best Friends, based out of Utah.Heather annually attends national conferences, such as the Association for Professional Dog Trainers as well as The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, to maintain educational and scientific advances continually being made in the field of canine behavior and cognition studies.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, CTC, FPPE, Licensed Educator

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training

Website: https://mindfulmutz.com


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

Website: https://alldogsnc.com/


Patrice Goldston

Patrice graduated at the top of her class from the prestigious Highland Canine Training Program, where she received her AKC certifications in on-leash, off-leash, and behavior modification training. Patrice is also a graduate of Peace College with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Animal Science. Patrice’s love for dogs began with her first dog at the age of nine.

At that early age, she recognized there was a gap in the way humans and dogs communicated with each other which she knew had to be addressed. It has been her passion to develop a training program to bridge that gap which is why she created Dynamic Dogs North Carolina.Her training program is based on love and positive reinforcement. Each training program is tailored to the specific needs of each dog and its owner. Patrice knows that like people, no two dogs are the same and she believes her unique style of training creates a lifelong bond which results in a much happier home for everyone.

In her free time Patrice enjoys spending time with her son, her pit-bull rescue Marley, and enjoying the great outdoors.

Certifications: Patrice graduated at the top of her class from the prestigious Highland Canine Training Program, where she received her AKC certifications in on-leash, off-leash, and behavior modification training

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training

Website: https://dynamicdogsnc.com/


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 trainer’s certifications, if provided, 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 services.

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 By City In North Carolina

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See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near North Carolina

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