Rent safe and private dog parks hosted by locals

  1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Dog Trainers
  4. The Best Dog Trainers in Chicago, IL of 2023

The Best Dog Trainers in Chicago, IL of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

March 29, 2022

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Chicago, IL Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Chicago based on votes from the Sniffspot community and the general public. Over 55,000 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 Illinois list. To learn more about our dog trainer contest, feel free to view the dog trainer contest post.

Dog training is one of the most important activities someone can do with their dog. Many come to dog training through a specific issue they want addressed, anything from barking to separation anxiety. Some have adopted dogs from animal shelters with an abusive experience and some just have happy puppies looking for everyday life skills. Trainers can help with all kinds of specific skills and issues, from leash manners to territorial aggression to anxiety around skateboards to common puppy challenges. However, what many discover is that working with a trainer is actually a way for a pet owner to deepen their relationship with their dog. The enhanced communication skills that result can increase quality of life, be a rewarding experience, be a social experience and lead to more harmonious relationships. Knowing that one’s dog is having a happier life can dramatically improve peace of mind. As the saying goes: happy dog, happy life. And it extends further than just the dog, to the pet owners. Owner empowerment can actually improve the relationship between owners. And finding the right trainer can make all the difference in the experience.

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 all 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 Chicago, IL Dog Trainers in 2023

Margaret Fraser

I am a Chicago-based trainer that believes training should be fun, sustainable, and kind. I want to help you and your pup better understand each other and use training and management solutions that work with your individual needs and lifestyle. I rely on positive reinforcement training with a focus on science-based methods.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, CGC Evaluator

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: In home private sessions, day training, virtual sessions, field trips

Behavioral issue focus: Leash reactivity and frustration, therapy dog preparation, puppy socialization, cooperative care, fear and stranger danger, multi-pet households

Training methods: Every client gets a free 30-minute phone consultation/ intake. Private sessions last about 60 minutes and take place in the home and at locations around the city. Every session comes with follow-up notes and homework. Clients who purchase packages or day training also receive a training plan and support between sessions.

Why I became a dog trainer: I first became interested in training when I adopted my dog Bea (Arthur) in 2013 while living in New York City. I had to quickly learn how to manage a behaviorally challenging dog in an urban environment. This led to a passion for rescuing, fostering, and training dogs. I have fostered over 20 dogs for local animal rescues and continue to volunteer my time helping animals in need.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing people live their best lives with their best friends.

My #1 dog training tip: Management is just as important (if not more!) as training.

Service areas: Chicago neighborhoods and some nearby suburbs

Website: https://www.copilotdogs.com/


Ali Evanson

Ali is a graduate of The Karen Pryor Academy, earning her Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner title (KPA CTP). She is a certified dog behavior consultant (CDBC) and a certified family dog mediator (FDM). Ali continues her education and professional growth by attending several seminars each year. She makes every effort to provide her clients the individual training solutions their dog needs.

When not helping clients, Ali enjoys time with her own companions - especially being in the water with her Pitties! She grew up riding horses and working with the family dogs when her parents would let her. She also had cats, rabbits, bearded dragons, mice, hamsters, and a ferret growing up - whatever her parents told her she couldn't bring in the house, she did! Now her menagerie is a bit smaller with three dogs, two ferrets, and a horse.

Certifications: CDBC, FDM, KPA CTP, CTDI

Services include:

  • Board and train
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: We offer board and train primarily but also have behavioral boarding and some classes. We currently run reactive dog class but will be launching cooperative care classes soon. We work with all types of behavior from puppies and adult dogs needing to learn obedience to more specific behavior modification like reactivity. The only thing we specifically avoid is dogs with Separation Anxiety because a boarding place is not the place to work on that.

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity is the most common we see but we do work with dogs with aggression as well. Handling sensitivities is something we see a lot of too. Most dogs who we see have a level of anxiety and we team with veterinary behaviorists to help with the more severe cases.

Training methods: We first begin with an info sheet which has a lot of specific questions on it related to what the owners are seeing from their dogs which helps tell us which program would fit best for them as well as if they're right for our board and train program. We then get them on the books for their stay and set up an initial consult which is done at my training center. This lets me meet the dog and determine if they will likely be successful in our program. They would then begin their program which is usually 2-3 weeks long.

We use all positive reinforcement methods and believe in treating dogs kindly. When they check in we let them decompress and work on basic behaviors and anything we think they should learn to be successful at their bigger goals. If they're working on reactivity we will systematically work with one of my neutral dogs to counter condition and desensitize before we begin working out in the real world. A follow up consult is included when you pick up your dog from their stay. We offer continuing education that can be added on to each package which can be done in home, virtually or at my training center.

Why I became a dog trainer: When I was growing up I had always wanted a dog of my very own to teach lots of tricks to but was never allowed. The second I bought my first house I adopted my first dog, Sasha. I got heavily involved in the rescue world and began fostering only a couple months after Sasha came home. I fostered some easy cases and then more difficult dogs. I learned all I could to try and help these dogs as best as I possibly could.

I didn't become a trainer until I adopted my second dog, Chunk. Chunk was an easy puppy but developed some severe behavior issues as an adolescent. I started learned how to help her and that is how I became interested in becoming a dog trainer to help more dogs like her. I realized how much I had helped my own dog and wanted to share that with other people and dogs who were struggling. I became certified through the Karen Pryor Academy and have been doing this professionally ever since.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love being able to help owners understand their pets more thoroughly and to give them the skills and knowledge to help their struggling companions.

My #1 dog training tip: Don't underestimate the value of reinforcing what seems like nothing in the early days. Your dog is laying on the ground calmly, treat that! Your dog checks in with you(especially without jumping), treat that! Find opportunities to reinforce your dog so they WANT to repeat those behaviors over and over.

Service areas: Huntley, IL

Website: https://www.igotthissit.com


Stacey Hawk

I have been teaching Agility full-time and competing with my GSDs for over 25 years, and teaching and competing in Scentwork for the past 10 plus years. My dogs and I also enjoy DockDiving and we dabble in herding.

I am the founder (and still chair) of Chicago's first dog park, Wiggly Field, spending years working to change local city, county and State ordinances and laws to allow the designation of legal off-leash areas. I am also a Founding Director of the non-profit Safe Humane Chicago.

Services include:

  • Deaf dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: Specializing in Agility and Scentwork classes and private lessons, and obedience/manners training.

Training methods: Positive, motivational, reward based training- striving for a fun learning environment for both students and dogs.

Why I became a dog trainer: Dogs are the BEST! I wanted to help others learn how to have fun and have the best relationship ever with their dogs!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing the joy in the dogs! Watching teams learn, progress, succeed and having the best time! My clients become family. I love them, and all of their dogs!

My #1 dog training tip: Be patient, and set your dog up for success.

Service areas: Training at Numerous Chicago area training facilities, and Evanston, IL

Website: https://www.HawkCityK9.com


Katie Morgan

I am certified through Animal Behavior College (ABCDT) and have a wealth of continued education since my certification. I specialize in Reactive/aggressive dogs. And love the Canine sports as I hope to be adding more sporting options to clients.

My training outside of Canine sports is focused more on everyday application of obedience cues and applying them to everyday manners.

I focus on meeting the dog as an individual and meeting the needs of the individual dog.

Certifications: ABCDT

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Obedience and Manners, reactive dog, dock diving, lure coursing, treibball, puppy training. In home sessions, 1 on 1 facility sessions and group classes.

Behavioral issue focus: Reactive or aggressive dogs (fear/anxiety/genetic aggression).

Training methods: Positive reinforcement, force free with focus on the relationship centered training approach.

Why I became a dog trainer: Dogs have been an important part of my life, and I wanted to help others provide for their dogs in the use of positive training methods.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Being a support person to those who need it.

My #1 dog training tip: Training starts the moment your dog comes into your house, and ends the day they pass away.

Service areas: Chicago suburbs, Rockford, roscoe, rockton, south Beloit, Beloit.


Mary Thompson

Hi! My name is Mary Thompson, I have been working with dogs for almost my entire life and have owned by own training business, Happy Hound University LLC since 2017. I got into training the way most of us get into training: because of my problem dog Regis. Regis had dog reactivity, stranger directed aggression, barrier frustration, handling issues, resource guarding... pretty much everything would be an issue when he was young.

When I decided I needed help and went to look at local trainers I found that almost all of them used old fashioned, inhumane training methods that I simply would not subject my dog to. So, I taught myself. Regis and I learned A LOT together during those first years (trial by fire!), and I saw what positive reinforcement could do for dogs who were struggling. After completing a mentorship as well as some certification programs, I decided I'd go all in and Happy Hound University was formed!

Certifications: CTC with Honors from Jean Donaldson's Academy for Dog Trainers, PMCT1 from Pat Miller's Certification academies, CPDT-KA, Fear Free Certified Professional

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I offer in home private training throughout the Northwest Suburbs, and group classes in Des Plaines, Illinois. In home training is for anything from basic manners to behavior consulting including reactivity and other serious behavior issues. I offer over 10 group classes a week as well with a special focus on puppy and puppy socialization.

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, Resource Guarding, Extreme Fear, Stranger Danger

Training methods: All of my services, private training and group classes, utilize the most up to date training sessions supported by science, which means we focus on positive reinforcement and do not use anything to intimidate, scare, or coerce dogs into doing what we like. Because we specialize in pet dog training we mostly use food to train, but if a dog has something else they find more rewarding that we can easily harness and use we'll use that as well!

Why I became a dog trainer: Regis, my 10.5 year old beagle mix, was the inspiration for me to become a dog trainer; when he was 1 year old he had every issue under the sun, dog reactivity, body handling issues, stranger directed aggression, resource guarding, the list goes on. I needed help, but the only trainers in our area used old school, inhumane methods, so I ended up having to teach myself so that I could help him!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Feeling like I'm really making a difference for people and their dogs. When someone tells me about a success they had, and how they're so pleased with how their dog's training is going, nothing can compete with that!

My #1 dog training tip: Notice the good! It's so easy to get hung up on when our dog is being "bad", but if you start to notice when your dog is doing things you like, and reinforcing them with real, tangible rewards like food treats and play in those moments, your dog will start to offer those more desirable behaviors more often! Notice the good!

Service areas: Northwest Suburbs of Chicago including but not limited to Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Roselle, Itasca, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Park Ridge, Edison Park, and more.

Website: https://www.happyhounduniversity.com


Liz Silberman

I have been training dogs for close to 20 years. I started my career teaching all levels of basic through advanced obedience. Immediately I realized my love for working with anxious and fearful dogs, and how using positive reinforcement methods helps change the emotions behind the behavior. My goal is always to help dogs become more confident in their environment and to feel more comfortable and safe overall.

Today, I lead the Training and Behavior Team at PUPS Pet Club as well as the PUPS Dog Training Academy, a six-month program where apprentices learn from both class work with hands-on experience in the field. My passion is working with pet parents and pet professionals to understand how to communicate with dogs in their care safely and effectively.

Certifications: CBCC-KA, AKC Evaluator, Certified Canine First Aid and CPR Instructor

Services include:

  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Basic through advance obedience, trick training, Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog prep, training in daycare, socialization, puppy training, behavioral challenges, fear-based reactivity, separation anxiety, overall anxiety, walking politely, and basic manners.

Behavioral issue focus: Separation anxiety, general anxiety, fear-based reactivity

Training methods: I work with my clients to break down their goals into short-term and long-term during our initial consultation then we work together to make a plan for realistic and timely progress.

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer to help pet parents effectively communicate with their dogs. Once you can understand the "why" behind certain challenges or behaviors, the process of training and behavior modification can become more enjoyable and understandable for all involved!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part of being a dog trainer is seeing that moment it all "clicks" for families, and the transformation that takes place for both the dog and the human. Having a confident and well trained dog is truly life changing and I love being the person to help make that transformation occur!

My #1 dog training tip: Work at your dog's pace, not yours!

Service areas: Chicago and north shore suburbs

Website: https://pupspetclub.com


Angela DePalma

I have been dog training professionally for over 10 ten years. I am certified in dog training and behavior consulting. I also am an AKC Evaluator and have so much fun working with the AKC programs. I love creating working relationships with my clients and their pups and watching them attain their goals whether it may be becoming a therapy dog team or entering trick competitions.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, AKC CGC Evaluator

Services include:

  • Board and train
  • In home training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Therapy dog preparation, puppy training programs, group obedience lessons (certain locations), in-home obedience lessons, and trick training.

Behavioral issue focus: Resource guarding, overexcitement, separation anxiety, jumping, chewing, and barking.

Training methods: Each client receives a personalized training plan unique to themselves.

Why I became a dog trainer: I used to train and show horses and dog training is very closely related. It comes very naturally to me so when the opportunity arose I started dog training while finishing my pre-med degree. The hours worked well with my school schedule and I just never stopped wanting to do it. After finishing my degree I chose to continue on this path and it was a great decision!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Working with all of my wonderful clients and their pups. I have created some great relationships throughout the years.

My #1 dog training tip: Let your dog have more time to process what you are asking for. I usually tell my classes to ask for a cue and then count to 20 in their head before asking again. Dogs are not fluent in English!

Service areas: Illinois: Park Ridge, Wilmette, Barrington, Winnetka, Inverness, Long Grove, Lake Zurich, Glenview, Hawthorn Woods, Naperville, Geneva, St. Charles, Glen Ellyn, Chicago, Wisconsin: Lake Geneva

Website: https://www.sitstaythrive.com


Debbie Bickford

Debbie has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 20 years.

Her group classes are taught at For Your K9 - where she teaches Puppy, Basic, Canine Life and Social Skills/Canine Good Citizen, Tricks, and Rally Free.

Debbie is a long-time member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the Pet Professional Guild.

She is one of just 70 trainers worldwide selected by Victoria Stilwell to hold the prestigious title of Victoria Stilwell Professional Dog Trainer a global network of world-class positive reinforcement dog trainers personally approved by Victoria to ensure that dog owners have access to the most accomplished, professional, reward-based training option in their area.

She is an honors graduate of the Academy for Dog Trainers headed by world-renowned trainer & behavior specialist, Jean Donaldson. She received her CTC (certification in training and behavior counseling) from the Academy in 2000. The Academy's education in behavior, training, behavior modification, and teaching and counseling is widely considered to be unrivaled.

Debbie is an AKC CGC (canine good citizen) evaluator (for 20+ years), a Certified Canine Conditioning Coach, and a Certified Trick Dog Instructor. She has taught innovative tricks and circus dog classes for many years. Her tricks crews have performed tricks shows at For Your K9, the International Kennel Club's shows, and at assisted living facilities.

Debbie's own dog, a mixed breed named Pinky, trains in agility, rally-free, tricks, weight pulling and most importantly, how to lay down calmly and assist with demonstrations while Debbie teaches her classes. She is on her way to being a pro!

Her older pup (waiting for Debbie over the rainbow bridge), mixed breed Ludo, has appeared in commercials for Walmart and Gatorade and is a Champion Trick Dog.

Debbie is on the staff of Camp Dogwood, an overnight camp for owners and their dogs. She teaches a variety of classes including Coaching reactive dogs to success, Recall, Tricks, Rally free, Parkour, and many others through the years.

Certifications: CTC - Certificate of Training and (behavior) Counseling - with honors - Academy for Dog Trainers - 2000
CTDI - Certified Trick Dog Instructor
CCFC - Canine Conditioning Fitness Coach

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I teach a variety of group training classes and provide personalized in home training for most behavior and training needs.

Behavioral issue focus: I help dog owners work through many behavior issues including but not limited to: puppy biting/mouthing, fear, reactivity, aggression, separation anxiety, and resource guarding.

Training methods:

My training methods include many techniques that I've learned in my over two decades of being a full time dog trainer.

Dogs learn best and bond faster/deeper with their owners if the training is WITHOUT fear, intimidation, pain, startle, and other techniques that have the potential for behavioral fall out.

All dogs require motivation to do what we would like them to do. Finding out what motivates each individual dog is integral in the training process, so this is/should be the first order of business in the training process.

Food, fun, and access to those things that the dog loves - these are the motivators that should be used in any effective and humane dog training program.

Why I became a dog trainer: Teaching dogs and their owners has been a way of life for me for over 20 years. As a lover of animals - especially dogs - I had hoped that becoming a dog trainer would be a game changer for my health/happiness, and, thankfully, it certainly has!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part of being a dog trainer changes weekly, but if I have to pick - it would be the ability to foster positive change in the lives of people and their dogs.

My #1 dog training tip: Motivation - find out what motivators your dog will love to work for, and learn how to effectively use them.

Service areas: Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs

Website: https://debbiesdogs.com


Gina Nichols

"I have been training dogs using positive training techniques since I was a child, luring my first dog with hot dogs through an agility course made of dressers, plywood, ladders and hula hoops."

Gina is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). She graduated Animal Behavior College with honors, where she earned her Animal Behavior Certified Dog Trainer (ABCDT) certification. She is a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), a member of The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and a supporting member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). Gina is also Fear Free Certified and will teach you to have a wonderful relationship with your dog built on trust and patience.

Her love and respect for animals shines and she loves nothing more than to show you how to have the best relationship possible with your dog.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, ABCDT, Fear Free Certified

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: During the course of my training program, we will teach your dog manners using luring, shaping, and capturing. We will do this without any harm or aversive techniques. We will teach your dog or puppy basic manners such as sit, down, stay, leave it, focus, loose leash walking, heeling and most important, to come when called.

We will address issues such as chewing, digging, barking, and potty training. We will also address behavior problems such as bolting, destructive behavior, reactive behavior, aggressive behavior and any other issues that may arise. We also understand that some behavior issues may not be so common and we will listen and address those as well. We are now offering Stay and Learn sessions for puppies as well as day training.

Behavioral issue focus: In our Basic Classes we help eliminate common issues such as jumping, counter surfing, inappropriate chewing, digging, bolting, pulling on leash and puppy biting. In our Aggressive/Reactive Behavior Class, we will help your fearful and/or reactive dog learn to trust. We will do this with patience and kindness, giving your dog the time and space to learn to feel comfortable in situations where he may be feeling UNcomfortable.

Training methods:

Science-based teaching methods are proven to teach quickly, as well as making it enjoyable! We will NEVER use any shock, prong or choke collars. We prefer that you learn to have a wonderful relationship with your dog built on love, trust and mutual respect.

This is what we teach at D.O.G.!!!

Why I became a dog trainer: While many people want to become a dog trainer because they don't like or want to work with humans, I on the other hand, LOVE humans as well as dogs and all animals. I was in the service industry for YEARS and finally decided to create a career for myself that would bring my love of dogs into my world as well.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I enjoy just about everything about my job. I get to work with wonderful dogs and humans every day! Some are more challenging than others, but it is so satisfying to help owners find solutions to their problems.

My #1 dog training tip: My number #1 dog training tip is to BE KIND to all!

Service areas: Belvidere, Cherry Valley, Rockford, Loves Park, Machesney Park, Poplar Grove, Caledonia, Marengo, Garden Prairie, DeKalb, Kingston, Genoa

Website: https://dogobediencebygina.com/


Yvonne Feeney

I'm one of a handful of certified behavioral consultants in Chicago and have been invested in the rescue community since 2009.

Certifications: CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: At Anything is Pawzible, we have group classes from Puppy to Senior, Tricks to Nosework. We also provide in home and in facility private sessions for obedience and behavioral work.

Behavioral issue focus: Anxiety disorders (separation, fears/phobias, stranger danger), reactivity (people and dog), resource guarding, barking, destruction, dog to dog aggression, prep for baby

Training methods: We are a modern science based training facility and advocate for the dog's physical and emotional well-being while helping pet parents read their dog and set them up for success through education and tangible goals.

Why I became a dog trainer: To advocate for the dogs by helping to stop out-dated and damaging aversive training methods that are still being taught today.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching the shift in dog parents once they have the proper understanding and tools in place and seeing their dogs improvements.

My #1 dog training tip: Learn to truly read dog body language and set them up for success.

Service areas: Chicago

Website: https://anythingispawzible.com


Shir Limazati

When I was younger, I was always told " you only get one more chance". Even at a young age, I felt the pressure of having to get it right by the second time. As I went through life as an adult, I noticed so many names of companies called "second chance..." and it brought me back to that feeling of defeat when I was a child. I made it my mission to give humans and dogs as many chances as it takes - and that's how my I became "another chance training"

Certifications: ABCDT, CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: Lifestyle Training for pups and their families. Taking all the basics and more, and putting them into context for your every day life. I specialize in families with children of all ages, as well as dogs and their humans with different levels of anxiety. My approach is all positive reinforcement based , using clicker training. I also have a background in canine nutrition and canine behaviorism.

Behavioral issue focus: I specialize in dogs who exhibit different ranges of anxiety, helping them find their confidence and rebuild their level of trust with humans.

Training methods: Every private training client receives a complimentary 30 minute phone consult. Private sessions are booked in 5 session series , and I work with you in your home environment. Your series includes text support in between sessions. I also offer Group Training classes in the Edgewater neighborhood.

Why I became a dog trainer: To help humans and dogs see they can have as many chances as it takes, helping dogs stay in their forever homes and humans learn the joy of building a bond with their pup.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing not only the four legged creatures conquer their fears, but watching their human conquer what they once thought was not possible.

My #1 dog training tip: Never give up

Service areas: Chicago

Website: https://www.anotherchancetraining.com


Judit Arroyo

Judit was only 17 years old when she found herself in over her head with her first dog, Puffy. Always a timid pup, at two years old he became very aggressive and reactive towards people and other dogs. Not willing to give up on her dog and not able to afford training Judit was determined to learn the art of dog training.

In 2002 she launched her career as a professional dog trainer when he applied for a dog training internship in one of Chicago's only training schools at that time and was then hired to be part of their training staff. While other teenagers were hanging out with friends, Judit was spending her Friday nights accompanying her mentor to obedience trials, her Saturdays observing obedience classes, and her Sundays volunteering at shelters and assisting her second mentor certifying therapy dogs.

Fast forward more than a decade and a half, and Judit's passion for dogs and behavior continues to grow. After receiving her BA in Sociology with a Psychology minor, Judit continued her dog-training career. In her 15 years of hands-on experience, Judit served as Director of Training for a daycare facility in the South-loop for 10 years, led the training program for Animal Career Academy for 6 years, and served as the dog/handler-team test evaluator for Sit Stay Read for 10 years.

She writes about dog behavior and two of her articles have been published in The APDT Chronicle of the Dog. Judit's Reactive Dog class was modeled in The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, and she was the on-set trainer for the forthcoming movie, Beast. She has competed in Rally-O, CPE, and AKC Agility with her Miniature Aussie, Lilu Manai. In addition, Judit has co-authored a manuscript for dog trainers on working with human clients. Judit has also written a manuscript on training urban dogs, and one on troubleshooting problematic dog behaviors.

Education is a big part of Judit's passion and commitment to the welfare of dogs. She currently sits on the board for the Inner Pup Org as their behaviorist, and travels yearly to New Orleans to volunteer in their three-week education program at local schools. When she is not teaching, blogging, or training, Judit enjoys weekly trips to the forest preserve with her dogs, Lilu and her adopted American Bulldog, Saint. She enjoys her daily fetching outings with Lilu and sign language training with Saint, who is deaf.

You can also find her posting photos and running Lilu and Saint's Instagram page. Puffy lived 15 wonderful and happy years- he will always remain Judit's inspiration to learn and help other people who find themselves in the same boat she was 16 years ago.

Certifications:

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Off leash training
  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: Cover a range of topics from puppy training to behavior such as anxiety, fear aggression, hyperactivity, and more.

Behavioral issue focus: Separation anxiety, leash reactivity, fear aggression, fear of the city, hyperactivity

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part of being a dog trainer is helping owners communicate with their dogs in a positive way.

My #1 dog training tip: My number one training tip is make sure your dog has an outlet to be his breed and give them proper non-interrupted sleep opportunities.

Service areas: Northside of Chicago

Website: https://anythingispawzible.com


Sonia Fetherling

I started training professionally over 2 decades ago after adopting a Coonhound mix and soon thereafter ending up crying on the floor, surrounded by puddles of pee, not sure what to do! My commitment to learning and growing my knowledge has not stopped since then. I have multiple certifications, have completed many in-person and online courses, and have attended many learning expos and seminars over the years. And I love to share this expertise with my wonderful clients and help them!

Certifications: LDFM-T, CPDT, CAP 2

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: In home (1-1) dog training and behavior modification for aggression, anxiety, separation anxiety and other challenging behaviors . Puppy Start right classes. Day training. Board and Train. Fusion classes for families (online and in -person support and lessons). Potty training. Cat training and behavior modification.

Behavioral issue focus: Aggression (inc.dog to dog and dog to human), anxiety, separation anxiety, intra household dog aggression, dog to cat aggression(and other species), predatory behavior

Training methods: Positive reinforcement based training, functional assessments, training plans and modification, family dog mediation

Why I became a dog trainer: To help and support people and their animals who are struggling, and to help stop animals going to shelters and back to shelters. To bring knowledge and understanding between the species who cohabitate.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping people and their animals live happier lives and build stronger relationships through compassion, understanding and knowledge! It fills my heart up!

My #1 dog training tip: Ask yourself "What would I like them TO do?".

Service areas: Chicago, Orland Park, Homewood, Tinley Park, Aurora, Oak Park, Aurora, Frankfort, Schereville

Website: https://www.bestofbehavior.com/


Julia Lane

Julia Lane, CPDT-KA, has been a professional dog trainer specializing in agility, obedience & reactivity for over 15 years. She owns Spot On K9 Sports, LLC, a 17,500 sq. ft. dog sports training facility featuring group classes, private lessons, seminars & agility trials. She also provides in-home dog training.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Agility, Downtown Hound, Nose Work, Obedience, Puppy Kindergarten, Rally, Tricks

Behavioral issue focus: I specialize in helping dogs with: reactivity and/or fear.

Training methods: I only use science-based, positive reinforcement training methods customized to the individual dog.

Why I became a dog trainer: My late rescue Dalmatian, Darby, was reactive toward people & dogs. I learned so much about behavior & positive reinforcement training trying to help her that I began helping others.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Meeting new people and seeing that aha moment when they better understand their dog.

My #1 dog training tip: Train the dog in front of you.

Service areas: Bartlett, Batavia, Campton Hills, Downers Grove, Elgin, Geneva, Maple Park, Naperville, St. Charles, South Elgin, Streamwood, Wayne, West Chicago, Wheaton, Winfield

Website: https://spotonk9sports.com


Randa Clark

Randa has been training dogs for 23 years and began her journey as a professional by spending 8 weeks at Arizona Canine Academy. Randa takes every opportunity to soak up knowledge and has studied under many experts in the field and attended conferences and intensives all over the country. Randa developed a training based enrichment daycare program that focuses on the mental wellbeing of dogs in daycare and practices their obedience commands throughout the day. This Dog Day School program is offered at both Barrington Pet Resort and Arlington Pet Resort.

Certifications:

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Tailchasers offers positive reinforcement dog training to help nurture the bond between you and your pup. All of our training programs are customized to your needs, so you can incorporate training into your daily routine to help your dog live his best life. We offer private training in your home or at our resorts, board and train, day training, and our Levels program offers flexible group classes that allow you to attend whenever is most convenient for you.

Behavioral issue focus: We at Tailchasers love to help you set up a routine to give your pup the best chance of success. As soon as you get your pup, reach out to Tailchasers to help get your pup settled and begin working on brushing up any behaviors that need fine tuning. We can help with potty training, setting boundaries, and begin teaching the behaviors to help your pup reach his full potential. Randa has been training dogs for 23 years and has extensive experience with reactivity, aggression, anxiety, and housebreaking issues in addition to obedience.

Training methods: Tailchasers uses positive reinforcement training where we reward the behaviors we want your pup to show and find alternative behaviors for the ones you want to decrease. All of our training programs are customized to your pup's needs with a behavior plan made just for your pup!

Why I became a dog trainer: My Scottish Terrer, Max, was a challenging boy. As a puppy, I brought him to several obedience classes where he was labeled the troublemaker of the class. I began studying behavior to figure out how to help Max reach his potential. He had issues with reactivity, aggression towards other dogs and some people, resource guarding, and difficult housebreaking issues as well as being quite stubborn. I brought him with me to Arizona Canine Academy, and he thrived. To this day, he is still my heart dog.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: I love when families have that moment where their dog finally achieves a behavior that was challenging to teach. I really love when the fearful dogs begin to play with their owners.

My #1 dog training tip: Incorporate training into your daily routine, so your dog learns every single day.

Service areas: Northwest Suburbs of Chicago

Website: https://www.tailchasersinc.com


Julia Mendes

As a lifelong animal lover, I finally decided to take the leap and start my own training business. I am especially passionate about rescuing animals (currently I have two rescues of my own) and exploring the many benefits of the animal-human connection.

Certifications: Wag! Certified trainer

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Obedience training, reactive dog, rescue dog, daycare, loose leash walking

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, hyperactivity, fear, aggression, nervousness, leash pulling

Training methods: Positive reinforcement, desensitization, body language, leadership skills

Why I became a dog trainer: I started training dogs to better understand my own rescue pups. In time, I realized I could build a training business and share my passion and skills with the community. the day with dogs!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Spending the day with dogs!

My #1 dog training tip: Your dog responds to your energy and attitude. Most of the time, their behavioral issues are a reflection of you or other humans they've interacted with.

Service areas: Chicago area and surrounding suburbs

Website: https://drjujuscaninecare.com


Nancy Paolucci

Nancy Paolucci, CPDT-KA did not discover her passion for dogs and training until she adopted her first dog in her 20's. Nancy graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa with a degree in Marketing and found herself in the world of promotional products where she met her husband. They adopted their first dog, Abby an English Setter, in 2007 and Nancy never looked back.

She delved into training and dog behavior research, realizing her dream of working with dogs. In March of 2013, she completed a six-month behavior and training program at CanineLink Academy (now FetchFind.com) in Chicago and began training with AnimalSense Canine Training and Behavior. In 2017 she became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, CPDT-KA and continues to learn and grow through continuing education. Although she loves working with puppies, Nancy has a soft spot for dogs with both anxiety and reactivity issues, having had rescue dogs with both.

She has taken Agility, Nosework and Dock Diving classes with her own dogs, past and present. Present including Gunner, a senior yellow lab and her COVID pup, Rocco, an English Bulldog/Pit mix.

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Group classes for Puppy & Adult, In home lessons, Puppy Mouthing, Puppy Housetraining, New dog introductions, Socialization, Leash Reactivity, Field Trips, Long Line Recall, Fear and Anxiety help, Basic behaviors, Proofing behaviors, Leash Walking

Behavioral issue focus: Leash Reactivity, fear and anxiety of new people/outside, new baby and dog, resource guarding

Training methods: Positive Reinforcement methods. After lesson training plans included in classes and privates with corresponding materials. Phone follow ups available

Why I became a dog trainer: After training my first dog, Abby, I couldn't stop learning about dog training and found myself drawn to learning theory and positive reinforcement. It was something I was comfortable doing and felt passionate about, especially training using positive reinforcement because I saw the impact it had on Abby especially with her fear and anxiety.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: The moment that both the dog and human begin to connect. There is sign of relief on both of their faces when they start communicating and listening to each other.

My #1 dog training tip: Breathe. When you start getting frustrated so is your dog so take a break, play or doing something easy, then go back to working on what was challenging.

Service areas: Glenview, Wilmette, Winnetka, Northbrook, Northfield, Golf, Morton Grove, Park Ridge, Niles, Skokie, Evanston, Highland Park, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Wheeling

Website: https://www.fetch-dogtraining.com


Cassie Williams

I worked in special education for 30 years. I started my journey as a school social worker and ended my career as the assistant superintendent of special education. I have loved animals all my life and have been pet parent to quite a menagerie including rats, birds, dogs and cats. About 9 years ago, I became the mama of a wheaten terrier puppy who had significant anxiety and reactivity to other dogs. My journey with Finnegan is what cemented my love of dog training. I became a Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner in 2019 and knew I wanted to help others with their dogs as I retired from my career in education.

My background in social work, education and positive reinforcement training meld together incredibly well to allow me to help my clients in a well-rounded manner and continue to reflect on my practice, so that I can constantly improve. I attend multiple conferences each year and plan to obtain further certification. Being a lifelong learner is incredibly important to me.

Certifications: Karen Pryor Academy-Certified Training Partner

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: In-Home and virtual services including basic cues, housebreaking, reactivity issues, introducing new dog/puppy to household, loose leash walking, enrichment and confidence-building

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, inter-household pet relationships, separation anxiety, shy/fearful behavior, adolescence

Training methods: I use positive reinforcement to help teach the dogs what behaviors will work for them and what behaviors will not. I model the techniques for the clients and then coach them to put them into place themselves. I help the client teach cued behaviors as well as implement shaping and capturing behavior. I send detailed reports, supporting documents and videos. I am available between sessions via phone, text or email to provide clarification and support.

Why I became a dog trainer: My interest in dog training started when I had a wheaten terrier puppy with significant anxiety and reactivity to other dogs. I felt energized trying to help him and watch him become more comfortable and confident. As retirement approached, I knew I wanted to obtain a certification so that I could put my skills to use in helping others with their dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching the lightbulb go on for both my clients and their dogs. Meeting amazing people and dogs on a daily basis. Improving relationships.

My #1 dog training tip: Think about what you could cue your dog to do that is incompatible with the behavior that you do not want.

Service areas: Chicago and the entire Chicagoland Area

Website: https://asoundbeginningchicago.com/


Yasmin Baylor

Hi! I'm Yasmin Baylor, KPA-CTP and CPDT-KA. I am a Certified Training Partner and graduate of the internationally-esteemed Karen Pryor Academy, as well as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the CCPDT accreditation council.

After earning my Bachelors in Computer Science and Graphic Design, and working for years in the business world, I knew it was time to switch gears and commit my time to doing what I really love.

I serve as a board member at large and a training consultant for Paws Humane Society. Years of experience have helped me to develop a style that is calm, confident, and patient. Teaching a family to better understand their dog, and watching as they build fulfilling relationships together is such a rewarding experience. Being part of that journey is the highlight of my career.

When dog training is a passion, extracurriculars come naturally. I especially enjoy taking monthly continuing education courses with the brilliant trainers at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, and I relish the opportunity to learn something new every day from science-based training books, articles and podcasts.

My home is full of joy and adventure, thanks to my bright little daughter Claire, my playful Stabyhoun Fenna, Pangea and Zelda, my lovably grumpy cats, and Josh, my kind and supportive husband. I'm honored to be one of the only certified trainers offering in home dog training in the Rockford, IL area!

Certifications: KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I'm a positive reinforcement-based trainer offering in-home private training and puppy board & train. I specialize in everything from puppies to reactivity, aggression, adolescent manners, and everything in between!

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, resource guarding, aggression, fear, biting, jumping, leash pulling, hyperactivity

Training methods: I offer behavior modification training, consults and thorough training plans

Why I became a dog trainer: My priority is strengthening the bond and relationship between humans and their dogs, while improving their lives in their home together. I want to help people and their dogs live in harmony!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Teaching people to understand their dogs through reading body language!

My #1 dog training tip: Observation skills are key!

Service areas: Rockford, Rockton, Roscoe, Belvidere, Byron, Loves Park, Machesney Park, South Beloit, Davis Junction, Winnebago County, Boone County

Website: https://canineinfocus.com


Donna Orlowski

I have at the present time 2 dogs. I have trialed in both agility and herding. I have been helping people and their dogs since 2012

Certifications: CGC Evaluator, member of APDT

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: Puppy, Obedience, Agility, Pet fittness

Behavioral issue focus: I work with common behavioral issues

Training methods: Positive trainer

Why I became a dog trainer: I love dogs ,and enjoy show how positive training works

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Meeting the dogs and their people and watching them succeed

My #1 dog training tip: Set your dog up to succeed

Service areas: Fox Vally Area

Website: https://spotonk9sports.com


Janice Triptow

While practicing law, Janice Triptow began training her own dogs in 1992. She started instructing dog training classes in 1997 and has been offering a broad spectrum of dog behavior and training services since 1999. Janice is a certified professional dog behavior consultant (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) and a professional dog trainer (Council of Certified Professional Dog Trainers).

She received the 2012 Association of Professional Dog Trainers (National Community Educator of the year award for helping to ensure that responsible dog training is available to all reaches of her community. She specializes in behavior assessments and modification teaches specialty and mainstream classes and workshops and consults on a variety of dog behavior, training, and programming topics.

Janice’s knowledge of and passion about dog behavior fuels her need to remain current on issues that impact behavior, training, and animal welfare. Her broad-based experience was acquired through her positions as President of Dog Behavior Solutions, Manager of Behavior and Training for Safe Humane Chicago, officer and board member of a local rescue, expert witness on dog behavior, service dog trainer, dog owner, and dog sport competitor.

These experiences uniquely qualify her to work and train with dogs as well as work and train with the many different populations of people who care for and live with those dogs - whether in homes or in shelters. Janice works with full and mixed breeds, rehomed and breeder-acquired dogs, adopted, fostered, and transferred dogs. She performs assessments and modification protocols for individuals as well as government and private entities and consults on a variety of related topics including programming, best housing, behavior and training, adoption, foster, and volunteer management practices.

Certifications: CDBC, CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • Service dog training

Website: https://www.dogbehaviorsolutions.net/


Cailin Patracon

I've been a full time dog trainer for 2 years and use science-based, humane training methods.

Certifications: CPDT-KA
CPT

Services include:

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

More info about service provided:

Obedience training
Training classes
Basic cues
Potty Training
Distraction Training
Private Lessons
Leash Reactivity

Behavioral issue focus: I work a lot with leash reactivity, fears and anxieties, resource guarding, basic through advanced manners, and cooperative care.


Sniffspot Chicago Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Chicago dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Chicago as selected by broad voting from the Sniffspot community and the general public. These trainers are expert dog trainers, who received votes from their delighted customers, due to their excellent dedication to customer service, excellent results and general care they exhibit for their clients. Many have worked with thousands of dogs and are highly experienced trainers.

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

Dog training is not regulated at the federal or state level, so there is no standard dog training certification and professional trainers are not required to be certified. However, certifications are important to show that a professional dog trainer has a standard of expertise to help train your dog. Each trainer’s certifications are listed on their profile.

What are the top certifications for Dog Trainers in Chicago?

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. You can review the dog trainer certifications for each specific dog trainer on their profile on this page.

What methods are used in the dog training sessions?

There are many methods for teaching dogs and a lot of disagreement about the correct training approach. All of the Chicago trainers included on this list use positive reinforcement training only, as defined by no force, fear, intimidation, or aversive methods used. This includes not using any specifically aversive approach to training or training aid, such as a prong or electronic dog training collar (also called remote dog training collar or shock collars). As for specific training programs and specialties, such as day training / doggie daycare or obedience training, you can see more information in each trainer’s profile.

Are dog training lessons in a training facility or are virtual options available?

Some dog trainers operate exclusively from a training facility, some do house calls and some offer video calls or other virtual options. There are pros and cons to each option and the most efficient behavioral training option depends on specific circumstances, for instance, what hours work best for you. A training center or training ranch can be a good option if your training plan requires facilities, training equipment or dedicated space. We recommend reaching out to the specific trainer you are interested in or browsing their website for more information.

Are dog training lessons private or in a group setting?

Every different circumstance of dog and owners may require a different setting, whether it’s housebreaking issues, anxiety issues, lack of proper socialization, food aggression or just bad habits. Each trainer has different offerings as far as whether they can offer clients a private training session or a group class. Trainers provide information about their private class and group class offerings in their profiles and you can browse their website for more information as well. It may make sense for your specific circumstance to reach out to the trainer to ask if they recommend group or private dog training classes. Some trainers also have a team of specialists that can provide even higher levels of service, or provide specialized sessions, such as pack walks.

How much does dog training in Chicago cost?

Chicago dog trainers have a wide range of costs for different services and phases of training. For instance behavioral modification that involves boarding is often more expensive than day training, and private lessons are generally more expensive than group lessons. Prices can also vary depending on specific behavioral issues. Lastly, some trainers have more overhead than others, 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. Whether with basic training skills or complex training techniques, going through behavior training with your dog can improve the bond that you share with them. Also, training can do a lot to improve the level of confidence enabling of a dog (and it can also help with building customer confidence!). Rather than being about exerting maximum control over them, it gives them more certainty that they understand how the world around them works. For instance, crate training can help a dog feel safe and at home in a crate vs fearful and uncertain. Dog training can teach important skills, such as leash control, potty training or a general level of obedience skills. And lastly, it’s just fun for the dog to learn life skills and for their family. Training can be very stimulating and enriching for a dog and serve them throughout their entire healthy life!

Can an aggressive dog be trained?

Yes! Any dog behavior can be worked on through training and coaching. Aggression in dogs 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. A trainer can help you interpret signs of aggression, such as excessive barking, fear aggression and leash aggression, and type of aggression. If you believe you have a dog with aggressive behaviors, we recommend reaching out to one of your local top trainers to get their diagnosis and advice.

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

As long as you have a training facility or do in person training in Chicago you can be considered for this list. 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.

How much do dog trainers make in Chicago?

Dog trainer earnings vary widely depending on many factors, such as whether a dog trainer is an employee or owns their own full-service professional dog training business. According to ZipRecruiter, the average dog trainer salary in Illinois was $27,017 per year and $12.99 per hour. It is impossible to say how much a dog trainer can earn with a full-service professional dog training company, because the size and profitability of companies can vary widely.

Sniffspot Dog running on field

Get safe exercise for your dog by renting a private dog park near you

See The Best Dog Trainers In Other Illinois Cities

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

Naperville, IL
Peoria, IL


See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near Illinois

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

Indiana
Kentucky
Missouri
Wisconsin

Get your dog the safe enrichment they need by renting a Sniffspot

Sniffspot Dog swimming in pool
Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

March 29, 2022

Dog Trainers

About Sniffspot

Sniffspot is a community marketplace that enables anyone to rent land by-the-hour as a safe and private dog park.

Follow us

Find Sniffspot on your favorite social media

TiktokInstagramFacebookYoutube
Related articles
How to Train a Reactive Dog: Beginner’s Guide thumbnail

How to Train a Reactive Dog: Beginner’s Guide

The State of Public Dog Parks Across the United States thumbnail

The State of Public Dog Parks Across the United States

Coprophagia: Why Does Your Dog Eat Poop? thumbnail

Coprophagia: Why Does Your Dog Eat Poop?

All categories