The Best Dog Trainers in Virginia of 2022

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

Erika Proctor

I am a Positive Reinforcement Animal Behavior Specialist who Specializies in training special needs animals, Therapy Dog Training, and helping animals Build a Better Bond with the people they love.

Certifications: APDT, GDUTDI, AKC CGC and Trick Dog evaluator

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

Reactivity, separation anxiety, leash pulling, recall, introducing new pets and children

Training methods:

Positive reinforcement and concept training, bond and trust building, happy dogs make happy owners.

Service area:

Charlottesville VA area

Website: https://greendogsunleashed.org


Cathlyn Clark

I recently retired after 27 years in the US Air Force. I decided years ago that my second career was going to be as a dog trainer. I love working with dogs but Inlobed working with and teaching humans even more! I was a Distinguished Graduate from the Victoria Stilwell Academy and I have attended The Peaceable Paws Academy Basic Manners course.

Certifications: VSA-CDT

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

Leash reactivity, aggression, resource guarding

Training methods:

I train only with force free methods. I offer behavior consultations and develop individual training plans based on each dogs and guardians individual needs. I believe in training the dog in front of me and not a one size fits all approach to behavior modification.

Service area:

I offer services throughout the Hampton Roads, VA area. Including Hampton, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Newport News, Phoebus, Chesapeake, Smithfield, Norfolk.

Website: http://www.bzdogtraining.com


Stephanie Bass

Stephanie Bass is a Pat Miller Certified dog trainer. Commited to continued education and meeting client’s needs, Stephanie attends multiple conferences and seminars per year. Dogli Pet Services puts the needs of both the dog and human clients first and is referred to by local veternarians and shelters. When not helping humans better communicate with their pups, Stephanie is teaching teachers in an elementary school or spending time with her 4 dogs and pot bellied pig.

Certifications: PMCT2

Services include:

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

Stephanie O’Connell Wilcke

BarksBurg Dogs is a dog training business that is owned and operated by Stephanie O’Connell Wilcke, CPDT-KA. She provides group obedience classes, private training sessions and behavior modification assistance. She has been working in the dog training industry since 2011 and has been a professional dog trainer in the area since 2014.

Stephanie began her career with a two year apprenticeship program in Arlington, VA that taught the latest techniques in positive reinforcement training, including clicker training and TAGTeach. After 3 years of learning and practice, Stephanie became a certified professional dog trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. She teaches group classes at Flying Fur! and offers private in-home training in the Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and New River Valley area.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

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

Separation Anxiety, Leash Reactivity, Jumping, Leash Pulling

Training methods:

Positive Reinforcement with clicker training

Service area:

Blacksburg, Christiansburg and other areas in the New River Valley, Virginia

Website: https://barksburgdogs.com


Marnie Montgomery

Joyful Dog works one-on-one and in group classes with people and their dogs, teaching fun ways to live together with force-free tools and techniques for creative communication. We provide training in basic manners, behavioral problem-solving, puppy socialization, and a variety of special interests.

Our positive approach includes Connection, Cooperation, and Control, a curriculum founded on Suzanne Clothier’s Relationship Centered Training techniques, and Tellington TTouch methods of body work and movement, to help dogs achieve physical and behavioral balance. We serve an online clientele, as well as in-person in Leesburg, Loudoun and western Fairfax counties in Virginia.

Certifications: CPDT-KA; PMCT4; TTouch Practitioner 1; Fear-Free Certified Professional; CCC Certified Instructor

Services include:
  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training
Behavioral issue focus:

Joyful Dog works with reactive and fearful dogs to help them become more comfortable with their ‘triggers’ and concerns, using only positive ‘marker-based’ training methods, and Tellington TTouch gentle techniques.

We find the client dogs’ comfort zone‚ the level of intensity of their ‘triggers’ at which they can still think, learn, and form new, positive, associations. Using reward-based patterns we teach the skills they need to succeed in challenging situations. Some of the applications include:

* Dogs who worry about other dogs, vehicles, etc.
* Dogs who worry about strangers.
* Dogs who find visitors to the home to be challenging.

Joyful Dog also works with dogs who guard food, objects, people, and spaces, etc., from other people and/or dogs.

Training methods:

For behavioral issues we look at contributing factors, as well as how the dog presents the problem behavior (what it ‘looks like’), in order to develop a training plan. We combine management and training to maximize the potential for success.

All our training methods are force-free, and include:

* Counterconditioning and Desensitization
* Marker-based (‘Clicker’) training methods
* Tellington TTouch methods of bodywork and movement.

Service area:

We serve Loudoun County, Virginia; western Fairfax County, Virginia; some parts of western Montgomery County, Maryland; online (remote).

Website: https://www.joyfuldogllc.com


Joel Diaz

A dog trainer that only succeeds when his clients succeed.

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

Leash Reactivity, aggression with humans and dogs, at home reactivity

Training methods:

We use all four cuadrants of training and we move at the speed that’s necessary for the dog and owner to succeed. Relationship building is our main goal.

Service area:

DMV area.

Website: https://www.sallyswaydogservices.com


Matt Henry

I have been working with dogs for 20 plus years. I am obsessed with behavior modification. You will be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about educating humans on canine behavior, preaching positive techniques to build confidence and obedience through food and play.

Services include:

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

Website: http://dogsinpublic.com


Andrea Marx

You will not find a more dedicated or compassionate trainer to help you. I want you and your dog to live happy together and I’m confident that we can achieve this goal together. Force free training is about the animal choosing to want to be part of it and enjoy the training process.

Certifications: CTDI, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, FDM

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

Dog aggression towards, children, visitors, owners, vet, same household dogs, reactivity, anxiety

Training methods:

90 minutes first consultation/training session, 60 minute follow up sessions

Service area:

VirginiaBeach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, remote

Website: https://freakonaleashdogtraining.com/


Desiree Lomer-Clarke

Recovering attorney turned force-free trainer. I’ve had a force-free dog walking business since 2008 and began my training education at that time as well. I believe we should be constantly learning and keeping up with the science of dog training. I love teaching classes as well as working privately with individuals.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

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

Dog-dog reactivity, high arousal

Training methods:

Force-free, positive reinforcement and science based methods.

Service area:

Arlington County, VA and surrounding neighborhoods

Website: https://www.arlingtondognanny.com


Kat Heckert

Kat Heckert (she/her) became interested in behavior and training when she entered the animal shelter world. Kat has worked in the behavior department of two animal shelters and has provided training services to shelter volunteers, fosters, and adopters. In 2020, she decided to take the leap from animal sheltering to private training and discovered how rewarding it is to work so closely with owners and their dogs.

Kat is passionate about helping people connect with their dogs using positive reinforcement and force-free training methods. She loves to incorporate enrichment activities into her training plans and thinking of creative ways to approach challenging behaviors. She believes in creating a compassionate and supportive environment for dogs and their owners to set everyone up for success.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, Fear Free Professional Dog Trainer

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

I commonly work with dogs that experience fear/anxiety around new people, dogs, situations, and environmental changes. In addition I work on basic cues, manners, and life skills. Specifically:
– Reactivity to dogs on leash
– Fearful behavior/reactivity/human directed aggression to strangers
– Resource guarding
– Noise sensitivity
– Fearful of leaving the house/apartment
– Jumping and polite greetings
– Loose leash walking
– Handling sensitivity and cooperative care

Training methods:

Clients start with a virtual behavior consultation to discuss their dog, the behavior they are seeing, and develop a behavior plan. From there, I provide in-person services in the Arlington/Falls Church area or virtual sessions for clients out of the area. Clients receive a training plan and follow up emails after each session with instructions/videos for protocols and exercises.

I only use force-free training methods and never rely on fear, intimidation, or pain/discomfort. My goal is to help dogs and their guardians feel secure and confident learning and teaching new behaviors. I use a mix of management, behavior modification, and enrichment to treat behavior challenges. I focus on addressing the root and underlying emotions behind behavior challenges, and creating trust between dogs and their guardians using positive reinforcement.

Service area:

Arlington, Falls Church, some parts of Alexandria, and remote sessions.

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


Andrea Lengi

I have been training dogs in various sports for over 25 years, and teaching classes and private lessons for over 24 years. I am a CPDT-KA, certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Before moving to Blacksburg, I worked as the Dog Training Program Manager for the APS of Orange County in North Carolina. When we moved to Blacksburg in 2001, I found that there just wasn’t the same opportunity to play dog sports in this area.

So, I decided to go about creating more opportunities myself!CPDT LogoI have put obedience titles, nosework titles, Trick Dog Championships, and over 45 agility championship titles on multiple dogs, all rescue dogs of various breed mixes. By working with rescue dogs with differing backgrounds and different types of baggage, I have learned how to overcome many bumps in the training road, and at every step of the way, how to train the dog I have rather than the dog I think I should have.

ChampsMy dogs have competed successfully at the highest levels of agility. I have been a finalist at the NADAC Agility Championships with three different dogs. In 2009, my dog Lucas and I finished in 3rd place in the 20 inch height class. Lucas also won trophies for the overall Highest Scoring Mixed Breed Dog, and the overall Highest Scoring Rescue Dog, and the Highest Scoring Proficient Mixed Breed Dog in Jumpers.In 2015, my dog Pye and I finished in 4th place in the very competitive 16-20 inch height class. Pye also won awards for the High Scoring All-American Rescue Dog, High Scoring Cattle Dog or Cattle Dog mix, and the High Scoring Dog from Virginia. Also in 2015, my dog Brie finished in 2nd place in the 12 inch height class. Three of my dogs, Lucas, Brie, and Pye, have earned places in the NADAC Agility Hall of Fame.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training

Website: http://allamericandogsports.com/


Tara DuVal

Helping humans and their dogs live their best lives

Services include:

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

Website: https://www.pulsek9.com


Juliana Willems

Juliana DeWillems (she/her) is the Owner and Head Trainer at JW Dog Training. She has been training dogs since 2014 after she graduated with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy. Juliana enjoys applying her knowledge of canine behavior and the science of learning when working closely with pet parents to improve their dog’s behavior.

Watching the training plan strengthen the bond between owner and dog — whether it’s a puppy, adolescent, or adult dog– is her favorite part of the job. You can regularly catch Juliana on TV, radio, and online programs. She has shared her dog training expertise on WTOP and Good Morning Washington, and she was a regular guest on The Pet Show with Dr. Katy for many years.

Juliana currently co-hosts the Live from The Ranch online broadcast with Ken Ramirez. She also provides quarterly free seminars and webinars for dog owners through the non-profit Your Dog’s Friend. Qualifications: Certified Dog Behavior ConsultantCertified Behavior Consultant CanineKaren Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge AssessedTAGTeach Level 1 Certified Faculty Member, Karen Pryor Academy‚ Areas of Expertise: Fear, Reactivity, Aggression, Anxiety, Puppies, Basic Manners, Adolescents, Dog-Cat Introductions, Dog-Dog Aggression, Virtual Training

Certifications: Graduated with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Behavior Consultant Canine, Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed, TAGTeach Level 1 Certified. Faculty Member, Karen Pryor Academy

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

Reactivity, aggression, puppy training, rescue dog, adolescents, basic manners, anxiety, fear

Training methods:

Behavior consulting, behavior modification, positive reinforcement training, clicker training, force free, Fear Free Certified

Service area:

Arlington, Alexandria, and Great Falls, Virginia. Northwest Washington, DC. Remote

Website: https://jwdogtraining.com


Gabrielle Johnson

I support families whose dogs experience anxiety or display aggressive behaviors.

Certifications: Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed

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

I specialize in working with aggression, and with dogs experiencing abnormal levels of anxiety.

Training methods:

I work with local and remote clients across the country. All clients begin with a 2-hour Zoom session, followed by weekly or biweekly hour-long sessions.

Service area:

I work remotely, and am local to Richmond, VA and surrounding counties.

Website: https://bestlifedogservices.com


Deven Gaston

Deven Gaston Has worked as a professional trainer and instructor in corporate and university environments for over ten years. Her love of teaching people combined with her love of working with her own dogs led her to co-found Canine Campus in 2002.

In February of 2003 Deven completed an internship with renowned trainer Pat Miller. In June of 2003, Deven completed the Principles & Techniques of Behavior Modification at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. These two programs were just the beginning of the educational adventures she would embark upon to stay current on scientific developments and our understanding of the domestic dog.

Known for her lighthearted teaching style, she helps owners realize their goals of well-mannered family dogs in a relaxed and supportive environment, thus enhancing the human-dog bond. Deven’s commitment to evangelizing positive reinforcement as a viable communication strategy sent her to prison in June 2003! For three years, as the lead trainer for the Pen Pals prison dog program at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women and one year at Buckingham Correctional center, Deven screened shelter dogs and placed them with carefully selected inmates who worked with her to teach the dogs to be polite family members during an ten-week training period.

In the Spring of 2006 Deven debuted the Canine Campus pod cast, available on Itunes, where she addressed common behavior challenges and listeners questions.Deven believes her love of problem solving (a carry-over from Logic 101, she fears) is the foundation for her interest in behavior modification. She works with local vets who have diagnosed behavior problems in dogs to design and implement behavior modification techniques to manage and improve the situation. Her Puppy Socialization class is designed specifically to prevent the need for behavior modification later in a dog’s life.

Deven is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), successfully completed the certification requirements of the Certified Pet Dog Trainer program (CPDT-KA) and Certified Behavior Consultant Canine program (CBCC-KA) – one of only 161 trainers to do so, and holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy.

Certifications: Member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), successfully completed the certification requirements of the Certified Pet Dog Trainer program (CPDT-KA) and Certified Behavior Consultant Canine program (CBCC-KA)

Services include:

  • In home training

Website: http://caninecampus.wpengine.com/


Laurie Williams

Laurie C. Williams (CPDT-KA, CCUI) has had a love of and connection with dogs from as far back as she can remember. She is the owner and Director of Training and Behavior Counseling at Pup ‘N Iron Canine Fitness & Learning Center in Fredericksburg, VA, where she has been serving her community as a canine education specialist and dog behavior counselor for the past 16 years.

Laurie holds a B.A. from Norwich University in Montpelier, VT, and was a member of the adjunct faculty of the Natural Sciences Department of Northern Virginia Community College for seven years. Laurie is a nationally published writer with works appearing in the APDT Chronicle of the Dog, The Whole Dog Journal, Dog & Handler, 911, Essence, Fitness, and Good Housekeeping magazines. She is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the Dog Writer’s Association of America and is a therapy-dog evaluator for Pet Partners, a Canine Good Citizen evaluator, and a licensed judge for the American Kennel Club.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, CCUI, CTDT

Services include:

  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Off leash training

Website: https://www.pupniron.com


Crystal Partain

With almost 2 decades of hands on experience in veterinary hospitals, local shelters and rescues, Crystal has been working with pets and their people to improve their lives together in many different settings. She received a dual bachelors degrees in biology and psychology, from Old Dominion University in 2009.

Clients will often joke that she is their dogs therapist during their sessions together.In 2012, she passed the Certification for Professional Dog Trainers exam and began to train professionally shortly after. She is a perpetual student and always improving training skills with her own dogs, taking classes or attending seminars that allow her to help your dogs with the most effective and current methods!Crystal currently has 5 dogs, who are all continuously teaching her to be a better advocate for the dogs she works with.

Opal, a rescued Boxer mix, is the namesake for The Freckled Paw. She has taught Crystal the most about living with challenging dogs, while working through her separation anxiety, stranger danger, and dog selective behaviors. We lost Opal in June of 2019, and will forever be The Freckled Paw.

Certifications: Certificate for Professional Dog Trainer

Services include:

  • In home training

Website: https://thefreckledpaw.com


Erica Pytlovany

Erica has more than a decade of professional experience helping dogs and their human families with everything from house training and basic manners to reactivity, aggression, separation anxiety, and other challenging behaviors. She also teaches basic through advanced obedience skills including Tricks and performance obedience like Rally, Fenzi TEAM titles and ring obedience.

Erica enjoys working with non-dog species as well, and has trained parrots, horses, cats, and other animals. She was a volunteer Keeper Aide for three years at the Smithsonian National Zoo, caring for Giant Pandas, Sloth Bears, Asian Small Clawed Otters and other residents of the Asia Trail. She is a volunteer with Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding Center, and in 2020, completed the requirements for Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CTRI) through PATH International. She continually studies new ways to train people, too.

‘The principles of learning are the same whether you’re a person, a dog, a horse or a fish. I love how lessons I learn with one species can make me more flexible and creative with the next species, humans included.’

Certifications: Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP), Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) – 2008-2014, TAGteach Level 2 Certification, Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CDTI) – Gold Level, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
Stunt Dog Judge, Titles and acheivements in Rally Obedience, Tricks, agility, obedience, and sheep herding

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Reactive dog training

Website: https://woofsdogtraining.com/


Carla Blackmon

Carla has an extensive background in animal behavior, training and animal care and is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).

Carla has over 20 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 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.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

Website: https://www.improvingpets.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 Virginia

Richmond, VA
Virginia Beach, VA


See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near Virginia

Kentucky
Maryland
North Carolina
Tennessee

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