About the Trainer

Teaching Dogs to Think and Owners to Think "Dog"!

Leslie, Gracie and Ditto

Professional Reward Based Training

A Journey in Dogs- What’s my story??

Hi there and welcome to one of my passions~ teaching dogs to think and owners to “think dog” at Dogs Think! Dog Training!

I’ve been involved in the world of dogs for almost as long as I can remember. I started out in the field of veterinary medicine as a veterinary technician.  It became clear to me very quickly that dog owners often needed advice about their pets that was farther-reaching than just the “clean ears and vaccine” side of veterinary medicine. Having a healthy pet has both a medical and behavioral component.

I jumped in with both feet, taking on the behavioral aspect of veterinary medicine and created Dogs Think! Dog Training to accommodate the behavior needs of veterinary clients (mostly dogs, but occasionally cats too). The good word spread from there and Dogs Think! Dog Training blossomed as I furthered my education in dogs with lots of continuing education programs, seminars and hands on work with shelter dogs, as well as receiving my CPDT-KA certification (see article explaining what this is all about) in 2002.

My journey in dogs has taken me all over the country, as well as Belgium, Greece and even the dumps in Mexico City to study dog behavior. I spent two years volunteering for the Iditarod Race in Alaska, and volunteered time and supplies at Ground Zero. Dogs never cease to amaze and educate me and it has always been my passion and goal to share my fascination with as many people, clients and other trainers as possible. There is so much to be learned and the dogs are generally willing participants – most will do anything for the right reward! J

I’ve owned and trained many different breeds and personalities of dogs. I started with a gentle, sweet spirited Labrador retriever, named “Hoss”. He got me addicted to the world of dogs and was my soul mate of the dog world- teaching me patience, love and connection in a way I never knew existed.

            After losing “Hoss” too early to cancer, I switched gears slightly and added a German Shepherd/Labrador mix to my family. “Clyde” proved to be my best teacher even to this day. He was a challenging “project” from the moment I got him at 6 weeks of age. He taught me the “real life” challenges of aggression and managing a difficult and less than ideal dog temperament! He taught me humility in my trade and I learned to “feel for my clients” more from this dog than any other in my journey. He got me addicted to the sport of Canine Disc (Frisbee) and proved to be one of the most amazing canine athletes I have ever worked with or trained.

            Next came “Gracie,” switching breed gears again to herding dogs from primarily sporting mixes. She is my canine smile and the dog that makes my heart laugh and sing even with her fearful quirks and somewhat neurotic personality. Watch what you wish for, those of you thinking a “super smart” herding dog is “just what you need” for agility, companionship or “just because”! She is responsible for throwing me fast and far into the world of competitive agility and has taken me all the way to NADAC Agility Championships (see photos of some of her amazing agility moments) in 2009! She is a sweet spirit and simply one of the most beautiful treasures on my dog journey thus far. Again, a humbling dog, one that routinely reminds me just how much I can continue to learn each and every day from dogs! “Ditto” was next, another cattle dog (herding) mix that looked almost like Gracie’s twin (hence the name). He rallied loud and spirited for me to pull him on one of my many shelter transports and “followed me home” from Rockbridge, Virginia. He is the smartest, fastest learning dog I have yet to train. Hands down of any breed or mix, he can learn it more efficiently, from tricks to agility to begging and “bad” behavior. He can master most anything in a single trial learning session, maybe two, tops! J He also ran hard and fast at agility championships in 2009! He and Gracie ALWAYS made me look good in the agility ring!

            Currently, I have switched gears yet again to a working breed and more specifically, a guarding breed and my first purebred (inherited through marriage), a boxer named “Trigger”. His challenges are as educational as the dogs that came before him. Again, I learn something from every dog that crosses my path on this journey! Trigger is endearing, loyal and lovable- a 55lb lap dog for sure!

Who’s to say where my journey will take me with my next dog- it’s always an adventure and I am always a willing participant, eager to learn and enjoy whatever they have to offer!

The time we have with dogs on our journey is limited, despite modern medicine and our best effort to keep them around forever. It’s up to us to enjoy each moment we have with them. Some moments create laughter, some tears, others intense frustration and moments of “why am I doing this”? My goal for my dog clients, friends and family, is to teach them to appreciate all those moments, learn from them, and in the end, laugh! It’s just a $100 pair of shoes after all… J

Dogs have a great deal to teach us, we should embrace the learning curve and jump in with both feet….and a good sense of humor! Enjoy your journey- with all the dogs in your life….canine and otherwise!

Have fun, get out and enjoy some sun with your best canine buddy by your side!


                               So what is CPDT-KA?