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The Best Dog Trainers in New Mexico of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

March 29, 2022

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the New Mexico Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in New Mexico 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. 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 compiled by Sniffspot, which is the largest network of private dog parks for rent in the world. Each of the thousands of Sniffspot dog parks are hosted by locals on private land with 100% private bookings to maximize safety for guests and their dogs. Sniffspot offers various types of dog parks, including fenced, water parks, indoor dog parks, dog beaches and more. Sniffspot has worked closely with dog trainers to create safe spaces for dogs and our top trainer lists are a natural extension of that relationship. You can browse Sniffspot's local dog parks here.

The Best New Mexico Dog Trainers in 2023

Jen Havens

For 40+ years, I lived in Monrovia CA where I founded and operated Two Dogs Pet Services, a professional pet care & dog walking company. We added puppy socialization, basic manners, and therapy dog training in 2017.

I've worked as a barista, a nanny to three children, youth group director, customer service in retail stores and restaurants, and Out Patient Nurse Coordinator at Dr. Domotor's Animal House Veterinary Hospital.

I have traveled through 35 states with one or two whippets and an old tortoise in search of massive amounts of dog fun!
In June of 2022, my three wonderful whippets (Beans, Ryder, and Vinney) and I moved to Taos, New Mexico so I could be closer to my senior mom. We are looking forward to exploring more and experiencing all the land of enchantment and four seasons has to offer.

All three whippets have multiple trick dog titles and have earned their CGCA (Canine Good Citizen Advanced, now Community Canine). Vinney received his first trick title at 17 weeks. Beans and Ryder earned their AKC Obedience Beginner Novice titles. Beans has her Rally Advanced title, Ryder has his Rally Intermediate. Both have earned Fast CAT and CAT titles and Ryder is an AKC Field Champion and has a Dock Novice title. Beans recently retired from therapy dog work and is semi-retired as my service dog. Vinney is in training to take over for Beans as my service dog and we will be starting public access training soon!

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I'm available for one on one in-person in or near Taos, NM or virtual consults and training sessions. Personal, small group online classes include Puppy Squad, Trick Squad, and Teamwork Sessions. Puppy Squad is geared toward pups up to 6 months. Trick Squad is for anyone who wants to learn how to use fun tricks to get desirable behaviors and/or earn Trick titles through AKC. Teamwork Sessions are for dog guardians facing more challenging behaviors, it's a deep dive into the whys.
In-person classes include CGC/Tricks and Fit Dog Level 1+2 small groups, as well as 1:1 consults and sessions in the client's home.

Behavioral issue focus: Fearful and under socialized pups are the calls I receive most often with new rescues and new puppies as close seconds.

Training methods: I focus on the welfare of each dog, person, and household I work with and I'm proud to use effective, positive reinforcement using rewards, fear free, and humane methods of care and training.
I teach how to recognize a dog's body language cues so clients are able to gain further understanding about what their dogs need and how they're asking us to meet those needs.
My favorite ways to meet a dog's needs include enrichment, games, fitness, tricks, and creative use of the environment/nature. I love teaching clients how to get alternative behaviors to those frustrating, undesirable behaviors.
Each household is different and each client gets to create their own training plan with my guidance on what we want to work on and in what order. Training must be doable for the entire household so I strive to give the client full control over their plan.

Why I became a dog trainer:

At first, to work with my own dogs in a way I felt good about after growing up learning that training and 'control' were one and the same. Now, it's to help people understand their dogs, avoid frustration, and get the desirable behaviors while having a lot of fun!
My deaf dog, 11 yrs now, needed positive reinforcement and I didn't know how to do that so I took a couple puppy classes with Paul Owens and decided I needed to learn and do more.
Then I met Kat Camplin and heard about the science behind dog training and wanted more of that, too.
Both were helping so many people and dogs and I wanted to learn how to do that in the same ethical and practical ways.
Since meeting them both, I've brought home two more whippets and they have both made me a better trainer and continue to make me a better person.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer:

One of the things that excites me most about working with dogs and their people is watching them have fun with while learning how to effectively meet their household's and dog's needs. Seeing the 'Ohhh! I get it now!' happen thrills me!
I also love meeting people and their pups where they are and teaching them how to teach their pups what they want them to do. And helping them achieve their desired relationship with their dog.

My #1 dog training tip: Slow down. I find that when we back the bus up, take a few deep breaths, observe before acting, and try to wait a moment, our dogs figure things out a lot sooner. Giving them time and distance is all part of the slowing down, too.

Service areas: Taos, Taos County, El Prado, Talpa, Arroyo Seco


Georgette Lombardo

I received my first certification from the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior in January of 2015. Later that year, I opened my business Pawsitive Training ABQ in April of 2015. At first, I worked my corporate job part time for a year as I built the business. As more clients began to sign up, I quit the corporate job and worked full time as a dog trainer in June of 2016.

Puppies began my focus after taking the course Puppy Start Right in 2017. The more I learned how critical the first 14 weeks of a puppy's life is, I wanted to be there in the beginning.

During the pandemic, I took a nine month course from the University of Washington in Applied Animal Behavior and learned so much more. That is my second certification. It was completed in June of 2021.

As my client list continued to grow, I have hired on two part time trainers to help more clients. My next goal is to start writing a training book on puppies. My professors from the University of Washington encouraged me to do so as a way to reach and help more people.

Certifications: KPA CTP #21163, UW-AAB

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Primary focus is young puppies and teaching foundation skills with a holistic approach. It's more than just teaching cues but helping the puppy learn how navigate the human world. The training takes place in the client's home with either a coaching approach and the pet parents or day training with me doing the training for them. We also offer monthly doggie socials to help socialize the puppies with real world adventures in both urban and rural locations.

Behavioral issue focus: Most recently they are adolescent dogs between six and 12 months old who did not get a solid foundation. They have maladaptive behaviors such as an over the top reaction to other dogs on leash. The opposite is also present. Dogs who are either afraid of the world post-pandemic or are not used to strangers coming into their homes.

Training methods: Methods always use positive reinforcement with a clicker to help the dogs learn the precise moment they have done a behavior the humans can reinforce. I have also used a process of counterconditioning on its own and sometimes paired with desensitization. Also beginning to use much more enrichment as a main focus of the plan. Each dog is an individual so no plan is identical to the next.

Why I became a dog trainer: I wanted a way to help stop having dogs end up at our local humane society. At the time, I volunteered as a dog walker at the humane society. I asked the woman in charge of the behavior department, what could I do to possibly stop dogs from being turned in. She said simply, "become a dog trainer."

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing the reaction on my human client's face when they see what their dogs are capable of doing. The dog and the human are suddenly speaking the same language.

My #1 dog training tip: It is kind of three-fold - be kind, be patient and stop thinking like a human.

Service areas: Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Corrales in New Mexico


Melissa Winkle

Melissa Winkle, OTR/L, FAOTA, CHAIS, CPDT-KA is an occupational therapist and a professional dog trainer. She is founder and president of Dogwood Therapy Services, a human healthcare clinic and dog training facility specializing in human-animal interactions. She offers animal assisted occupational therapy, selection of pups and dogs and training for human-animal teams interested in animal assisted therapy and service dog teamwork.

She offers in-person and virtual sessions and courses for working with pets & emotional support relationships, animal assisted activities, education and therapy, and service dog skills. Melissa has gained international respect for her hands on work, for written publications, for workshops , for staff trainings, and for animal assisted intervention and dog training coursework in the university arena. She enjoys her family and professional practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Certifications: Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Service dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: puppy/dog selection, relationship development, enrichment, reward based training, obedience, cue based, puppy, pet, animal assisted activities, animal assisted education, animal assisted therapy, service dog training, emotional support, home help mate, dog training and animal assisted intervention human internships

Behavioral issue focus: We teach people how to communicate with their dogs and how to predict and prevent unwanted behavior

Training methods: One to one and group classes, live virtual sessions, on line courses, live and recorded webinars, training curriculum for animal assisted activity, education and therapy. Creating profiles for selection of pups/dogs to match individual/family lifestyle. In person and virtual curriculum and/or training plans for puppy development & pup/dog training consultations, community based supports. Clicker/reward based training, capturing, shaping, targeting, systematic desensitization and counter conditioning, relationship development, welfare considerations, expressive and receptive communication skills, enrichment, playing and age related changes! Healthy and respectful kid and dog interactions. We teach people about how dogs experience the world.

Why I became a dog trainer: Melissa has always paid attention to the communication of dogs in her personal and professional life and learned early on how to have respectful relationships with them. She wanted to formally teach others about communication with dogs, welfare and well-being, and how to partner with mans best friend in personal and professional life. Melissa believes she is a trainer of people more so than a trainer of dogs.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Improving relationships of people and their dogs, and improving the loves of our best friends.

My #1 dog training tip: Prioritize early bidirectional communication and building a positive relationship with your dog long before you attempt obedience and task training.

Service areas: Albuquerque in person, international via live links


Carolyn Kitts

20+ years training dogs, nationally certified, fear free

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Puppy training
  • Agility training

More info about service provided: Obedience, puppy program, advanced obedience, social outings, classes, Rally, pre-agility

Behavioral issue focus: Potty training, loose leash walking, counter surfing

Training methods: Rewards based training, fear free, positive reinforcement

Why I became a dog trainer: To help create the bond between dog and owner with positive reinforcement. Training helps save pets from being surrendered and of course, I love dogs!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching the transformation!

My #1 dog training tip: Be positive and be your dog's cheerleader! Be patient and trust the process.

Service areas: Albuquerque, North Valley, Rio Rancho, Tijeras


Sniffspot New Mexico Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are New Mexico dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in New Mexico 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 New Mexico 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 New Mexico?

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 New Mexico 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 New Mexico cost?

New Mexico 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 New Mexico dog trainer. How can I get listed here?

As long as you have a training facility or do in person training in New Mexico 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 New Mexico?

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 New Mexico was $28,249 per year and $13.58 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.

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Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

March 29, 2022

Dog Trainers

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