The Best Dog Trainers in Washington DC of 2022

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

Pat Miller

Pat Miller, author of The Power of Positive Dog Training (2001), Positive Perspectives (2003), Positive Perspectives 2 (2008), Play With Your Dog (2008), Do Over Dogs (2010), How to Foster Dogs (2013) and Beware of the Dog (2016) has been training dogs for more than 30 years. She has trained a variety of breeds and mixed breeds (her own dogs) including Rough Collies, a Bloodhound, Australian Kelpies, Bull Terrier, Irish Setter, St. Bernard, Scottish Terrier, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Australian Shepherd, Pomeranians, and a Springer Spaniel, and competed successfully with many of them in the obedience and Rally rings.

She also trained her first Australian Kelpie to herd sheep and ducks (or more correctly, Keli taught Pat to herd). Keli was Miller’s Canine Field Agent, riding with her on patrol during the years she was an Animal Services/Humane Officer in California. Miller worked for 20 years at the Marin Humane Society in Novato, California, during which time she collaborated with Trish King to create the country’s first Color Coding system for shelter dogs and volunteers. This system was successful in reducing behavior problems in shelter dogs (with a corresponding reduction in euthanasia) by identifying difficult-to-handle dogs and matching them with more experienced and capable volunteer handlers. Miller was a humane officer/animal control officer and testified successfully in numerous animal cruelty and abuse cases. She also played a major role in the development and implementation of Marin County and State of California Dangerous Dog laws.

Miller moved to California’s Central Coast in 1996 after completing her BS degree in Business Administration with honors in the major. There she launched Peaceable Paws, LLC in Monterey/Santa Cruz, and introduced the Color-Coding system at the Santa Cruz SPCA while serving on the Board of that organization. She joined the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) in 1996, was elected to the APDT Board and is past President of that organization. She is also a member of the Pet Professional Guild.

In the fall of 2001, Miller and her 14-year-old Terrier mix, Josie, were one of the first 23 dog/owner teams in the world to earn a title in the then-newest canine sport, at the first sanctioned Rally Trials ever held, during the APDT annual conference in Ellenville, New York. Miller was one of the first 136 trainers to be awarded the title of Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) that fall, through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), and has also received her CBCC-KA (Certified Behavior Consultant) through CCPDT, and served on that Board as well.

In the fall of 1999, Miller and her husband, Paul, relocated Peaceable Paws, LLC to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Where she helped create FOCAS Friends of Chattanooga Animal Services, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the work of the Chattanooga Animal Services Division. Also in Chattanooga, she opened the Peaceable Paws Intern Academy, which draws trainers from around the world. In cooperation with several other training professionals, she helped create TAPPT, the Tennessee Association of Positive Pet Trainers and MAAPPPT, the Mid-Atlantic Association of Positive Professional Pet Trainers.

Miller also holds an Associate Degree in Administration of Justice, is a freelance writer and regular contributor to and Training Editor of The Whole Dog Journal. Her first book, “The Power of Positive Dog Training” was published in August of 2001 by Howell Publishing and has been on Amazon.com’s best-selling dog training book list since January of 2002. Her most recent book, “Beware of the Dog (2016)” is a highly acclaimed work on canine aggression. In March of 2015 she was named by Dog Fancy Magazine as one of People Who Have Changed the Dog World and in October of 2018 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

Miller and her husband moved to Fairplay, Maryland in the Spring of 2004 where they live on an 80-acre farm with their three dogs, five cats, three horses and a pot-bellied pig. Pat and Paul operate their Peaceable Paws dog-friendly training center and Peaceable Pastures horse boarding facility there. Pat offers group dog training classes, private behavior consults, training camps, seminars and workshops worldwide, expert witness services for animal-related legal cases, and is Director of the Peaceable Paws Trainer Academies and Training Programs.

Certificates: CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

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

I work with any and all types of behavior challenges, including aggression.

Training methods:

We are a force-free facility, and all of our training methods involve reinforcement for desired behaviors while we manage the dog and the environment to prevent reinforcement for unwanted ones. Our group classes follow a set curriculum. The puppy class includes a significant amount of socialization as well as training. The adult dog class focuses more on good manners training, including Sit, Down, Wait, Leave It, Touch, Mat, Polite Greeting, Polite Leash Walking and more. Private training can be customized to the needs of the individual client.

Behavior consultations are, of course, a very customized process. Methods include counter conditioning and desensitization, the CAT procedure, stress identification and reduction, Pattern Games, relaxation protocols, and more.

Service area:

While we primarily serve Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC, our clients come to us s from far afield – New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio and beyond – especially for behavior consultations and academies. We have had academy students from as far away as Brazil, Japan and Australia!

Website: https://www.peaceablepaws.com


Arrow Weiser

Arrow Weiser

Hi I’m Arrow, the owner and trainer at WeiserWays. I specialize in reactivity, and bridging the communication gap between dogs and their guardians. My training is based in understanding a dogs body language, signs of stress, and teaching humans the education that creates a strong foundation for communication and coexistence. I teach humans how to manage the environment to allow dogs space to process their emotions, and work through triggering situations with the end goal of healing. Reactivity training is meant to work from the inside out by first understanding the dogs emotions that drive their behavior, and then implementing exercises that alleviate stress and create a safe space for dogs to heal and grow.

Certifications: B.S. Psychology, MSc Animal Behavior

Services include:

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

Website: https://weiserwaystraining.com


Sarah Stoycos

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
Behavioral issue focus:

I frequently work with reactivity, fearfulness, anxiety, resource guarding, jumping and mouthiness, as well as aggression towards guests coming into the home. I also have experience working with blind dogs.

Training methods:

I use only force free training methods.

Service area:

I offer in-home training to people within a 30 minute radius of Rockville, MD. This includes Montgomery County and some parts of NW DC.

Website: https://laughingdogacademy.com


Brittany Fulton

Brittany	Fulton

Brittany Fulton has contributed to a rewarding human/animal bond through positive reinforcement training for more than ten years. She has a degree from the University of Oregon in psychology with an emphasis on animal behavior. She also has Certification in Training and Counseling from the Academy for Dog Trainers.

Brittany is the owner of Dances with Dogs, a dog training business serving the Washington, D.C. metro area. Brittany teaches a variety of classes at the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C. She specializes in helping clients with fear and reactivity issues.

Certifications: Certified in Training and Counseling

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

Reactivity, fear, aggression, distraction, puppy socialization, leash walking, basics cues, impulse control

Training methods:

I am strictly a positive reinforcement trainer. I begin each client relationship with an initial consult where we discuss the relevant behavioral challenges. In the initial consult, we discuss management and necessary training. We form a plan, and arrange for follow-up either with day training or with private sessions.

Service area:

Washington DC metro area, primarily Montgomery County and NW DC. Remote consults also available.

Website: https://www.dancesdogs.com


Melissa Dilla

Melissa	Dilla

Positive Reinforcement Trainer

Certifications: KPA, CPDT, CBCC, SDC

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

Reactivity, fear issues, guarding, aggression, distraction. Potty, crate, and nipping. Creating play drive. General behavior training. Tricks.

Training methods:

Positive reinforcement, force and fear free only. Collaborative care.

Service area:

Montgomery County and surrounding areas: Potomac, Rockville, Bethesda, North Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Silver Spring, Leisure World, Colesville, Gaithersburg, Boyds, Germantown, Travilah, Redland, North Potomac, Glen Echo, Darnestown, ‚ÄãPoolesville,‚Äã Laytonsville, Derwood, Olney, Cabin John, Seneca, NW DC, and parts of Northern VA. Also nationwide remote online training.

Website: https://www.metropolitandog.com


Joseph Ryan

Joseph	Ryan

Joe is the General Manager of Dog Training and Enrichment at Patrick’s Pet Care. He specializes in behavior modification, and has a soft spot for passionate and active dogs. He is passionate about teaching people how to focus on the behaviors they do want to see from their dogs in order to change the behaviors they are not so thrilled about.

In addition, he also supervises our Daycare 101 and Enrichment 1:1 program which helps dogs overcome unwanted behaviors such as separation anxiety and then transition into our Montessori School program. He lives in Maryland with his two dogs. He’s been with Patrick’s Pet Care since early 2018.

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

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

Reactivity/Aggression

Training methods:

We start with a virtual consultation where we create a training plan, and then schedule sessions at our facility or at your home. After each session and consultation, a follow up is sent including write ups of exercises, videos of real-world scenarios, and articles to help you continue working throughout the week.

Service area:

DC area

Website: https://patrickspetcare.com


Marnie Montgomery

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

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


Sophia Turshen

Sophia	Turshen

I currently work for District Dogs leading an amazing group of dedicated dog trainers. We are positive rewards-based focusing in Canine good citizen, reactivity training, mild fear, separation anxiety, and aggression as well as all around manners training. I run group classes as well as private lessons, and look forward to working with you and your dog!

Certifications: AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator

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

I work mostly on obedience and manners and Canine Good Citizen work, but I also am familiar with mild to moderate separation anxiety, fear, reactivity, and resource guarding.

Training methods:

I am a positive reinforcement trainer which means I don’t use physical corrections that cause discomfort to the animal. I invite everyone to sign up for our group training classes if your dog is comfortable in a group setting!

For anyone working with me privately, I require a consultation session to get to know you and your pet. This would allow me to observe and learn about what your goals are, set the foundation for our methodology, make a customized training program and schedule future lessons. More information can be found on our website at Districtdogtraining.com.

Service area:

I am currently based in Washington, DC but my company covers DC, Northern VA, and Central and Southern MD.

Website: https://districtdogtraining.com


Desiree Lomer-Clarke

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


Charlotte Hoberg

Charlotte	Hoberg

Charlotte is the owner of Sit ‘n Stay Training and specializes in Reactivity and Sports Training, but has plenty experience in basic manners and puppy foundations as well. She attends training seminars as often as possible to continue to educate herself in the field of dog training. Along with training other people’s dogs, Charlotte works hard to progress her own dog’s training. Pax (pictured) is her mixed breed dog who competes in Rally, Obedience, and soon in Nosework. Her adult German Shepherd, Beowulf is in training for Schutzhund and recently earned his intro level title for the demanding sport. Ghibli, her youngest , is an adolescent German Shepherd who will be following in her brother’s footsteps learning Schutzhund.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

Website: https://www.sitnstaytraining.com


Liz Cummins

Liz	Cummins

Liz Cummins began her training journey with her own puppy, Mouse, in 2011. The challenges, support, and incredible relationship she found with her dog as a result of training resulted in her beginning to assist and then teach in classes, and finally committing to training full time in 2019.

Life as a pit bull terrier mom has made Liz particularly passionate about managing and training reactivity, and celebrating the small victories that come with owning and loving a reactive dog. Liz also welcomed Figueroth (Fig), an adolescent German Shepherd, to her family in 2022. As Mouse is enjoying retirement at over 10 years old, Fig is Liz’s demo dog and all around work buddy. Liz is certified by the CCPDT as a Professional Dog Trainer and continually seeks further education and experience in animal behavior.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training

Website: https://www.likemagicdogtraining.com


E Foley

E	Foley

Learn Agility with your DogI love beginners! If you’ve ever wanted to try agility, I offer a welcoming environment where you can learn, have fun with your dog, and discover their hidden talents.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Website: https://foleysdogtraining.com

Behavioral issue focus:

Reactive dogs are welcome in private agility lessons.

Training methods:

Positive (R+, force-free, science-based) training methods.

Service area:

Burtonsville, Columbia, Silver Spring, Rockville, Bethesda, DC


Dennise Velazquez

Dennise	Velazquez

How I started in the dog industry goes back about 20 yrs ago. I was a foster child growing up. I was separated from my whole family even siblings because I was the only one with a different father. I had a very traumatic placement in Puerto Rico. I was so abused in so many levels that I would do anything to be with the animals. I found a stray pitbull. I did not know she was about to give birth. I gave her shelter in the bottom of the foster parents home. I would share half of my food every time “best feeling ever”. She gave birth to 8 puppies. My biological mother kept one. Lasito was her name.

I was 9 when I was allow to visit my mom in her house. Best feeling ever, I started training Lasito. She became very obedient. In just a month she knew all her obedience by then I was 10. Everyone in the neighborhood wanted for me to train their dog and they would gift me candy/toy/clothing. I promise myself I would open a shelter and train all the homeless dogs so they can be accepted in the community and found a home way faster. I open my first shelter 2012. Still until this date 2022 open and successful.

I help my community. I believe every case is completely unique and needs to receive the same care, energy, focus and promise. I LOVE MY JOB and I would do it all over again.

Certifications: Animal Behaviour & Welfare/CPDT-KSA/Dog Training 101/Advance Dog Trainer

Services include:

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

Jackie Ward

Jackie	Ward

Thoughtful dog training; leading the handler to meet the dog where he or she is and building on their natural traits, tendencies and desires to promote a bond between human and dog to accomplish simple and complex training goals. Using games to drive behavior learning is fun for everyone. Helping, Training, Loving Dogs.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

Website: https://citalidogtraining.com


Gwen Podulka

Gwen	Podulka

Puppies, Adolescent dogs, Senior Dogs, Deaf Dogs, Behavior Modification NW DC, Georgetown, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Alexandria

Services include:

  • Deaf dog training
  • Service dog training


Dylan Selvage

Dylan	Selvage

I’ve been training for 3 years now and have helped hundreds of owners across the DMV understand and connect with their dog in meaningful ways! Whether your dog is reactive, fearful, or just needs basic obedience, I can help you accomplish your goals.

Services include:

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

Website: https://www.sniffersdoggieretreat.com


Carla Blackmon

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 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.

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