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The Best Dog Trainers in Richmond, VA of 2023

Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 30, 2023

Dog Trainers

Welcome to the Richmond, VA Sniffspot top dog trainer list for 2023. This is a list of the top dog trainers in Richmond 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 Virginia 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 Richmond, VA Dog Trainers in 2023

Erika Proctor

Green Dogs Unleashed is a special needs animal rescue and therapy dog program. A non profit organization Founded in 2012, Erika Proctor has been the director and animal behavior specialist focusing on therapy work, basic through advanced classes, tricks, fitness and sport work, rescuing dogs on our community, and helping Pet parents build a bond with their furry friends ensuring happy well adjusted animals, who successfully stay in their adopted homes forever.

Certifications: GDU TDT -AKC CGC and Trick dog Evaluator

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: Green Dogs Unleashed is a special needs animal rescue and therapy dog program. A non profit organization Founded in 2012, Erika Proctor has been the director and animal behavior specialist focusing on therapy work, basic through advanced classes, tricks, fitness and sport work, rescuing dogs on our community, and helping Pet parents build a bond with their furry friends ensuring happy well adjusted animals, who successfully stay in their adopted homes forever.

Behavioral issue focus: As a Behavior Specialist I work with all concerns from basic training needs to OCD and Anxiety, as well as reactivity and aggression evaluations and mitigation

Training methods: As a student of science I subscribe to methods that are based in kindness, mutual respect and build relationships between owner and pet.

Why I became a dog trainer: To help pets with their people problems

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping families stay together and work towards reasonable goals

My #1 dog training tip: Every dog is an individual and family makeup is different. It is important we respect that individuality and work towards realistic expectations that work for all involved

Service areas: Charlottesville and Central Virginia

Website: https://www.greendogsunleashed.org


Charlene Henderson

I am Charlene and I own Pawsitive Reflection Dog Training! I’ve been training dogs for about 6 years. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan I was the only Positive Reinforcement Trainer! I am currently continuing my education through the Victoria Stilwell Academy and am excited to serve the Fredericksburg, Va and surrounding areas!

Certifications: CGC Evaluator

Services include:

  • In home training
  • Reactive dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Puppy training

More info about service provided: I work with dogs in their guardian’s homes, out in public and wherever a person may want to bring their dog! I typically offer packages in 4, 5, 6 & 8 week increments with a focus on enrichment, house manners and cues such as leave it, focus, place, implied sit/down/stay and loose leash walking. I also offer STAR Puppy Classes 3 times a year

Behavioral issue focus: Dog on dog reaction, pulling on the leash, jumping up, counter surfing, dog and child reactivity, frustrated greeters

Training methods: I am strictly force free in my methods. We start off with an evaluation where we figure out where the 'problem' behaviors are stemming from. Then we create a management plan to help curb the undesired behavior while we create a training plan that trains a new desired behavior!

Why I became a dog trainer: I became a dog trainer, because I wanted to teach people how to lovingly and intentionally relate to their furry family members. I wanted to make sure that families are equipped with the proper tools needed in order to have a great life with their dogs!

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: My favorite part is when I'm teaching a cue and the first moment a dog understands it, the guardian's face just lights up! They're amazed at what their dog just did!

My #1 dog training tip: If you haven't trained it, don't expect it!

Service areas:

Fredericksburg, Virginia
Stafford, Virginia
Spotsylvania, Virginia

Website: https://www.pawsitivereflection.com


Gabrielle Johnson

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

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

Services include:

  • Aggressive dog training
  • Deaf dog training
  • Reactive dog training

Service areas: Richmond, Chesterfield

Website: https://bestlifedogservices.com


Barbara Currier

Barbara Currier (she/her) got involved with agility shortly after adopting her Chihuahua in 1997. In 2004, Barbara and her husband Michael were relocated to VA and shortly after she started teaching agility at All Dog Adventures (fka All Dog Playskool) in Richmond, VA. It was there that Barbara was introduced to Susan Garrett and her foundation-based training that is centered around impulse control and relationship building with your dog. She continues to train with some of the best handlers in the world including Tracy Sklenar, Kayl McCann, Jaakko Suoknuuti, Janita Leinonen, Loretta Mohler, Mary Ellen Barry and Jen Pinder and has implemented what she has learned from them into her training program.

Before relocating to GA, while living in VA, Barbara also started her own in-home training and behavioral rehabilitation business. She was the trainer for Richmond Boxer Rescue and also assisted Southeastern Virginia Golden Retriever Rescue in assessing some of their dogs. Barbara has worked extensively with many rescue organizations including Chihuahua and Rottweiler rescue while living in NH.

Barbara was one of the head dog trainers for the F.I.D.O. Program run at Georgia Tech, which creates wearable computing for military, SAR and service dogs.

Barbara has also worked as an animal wrangler for Marvel’s Ant-Man, 90 Minutes in Heaven, the TV series Satisfaction and various commercials and print ads.

She has been teaching since 2004 and became heavily involved in the OneMind Dogs handling method in 2014. She has successfully competed over 20 different breeds of dogs since she started competing in agility. She is a multpile National finalist and former world team member. Barbara continues to teach all over the country.

In 2022, Barbara became a certified performance coach with Mental Managment Systems in Flower Mound, TX. This system was created by former gold and silver medal Olympian, Lanny Bassham.

Barbara resides in GA and shares her home with her very supportive husband, Mike, Piper (Parson Russell Terrier), Miso (Miniature Poodle), Eggo (Wocker), Fish (French Spaniel) and bearded dragon Saphira.

Website: https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/


Stephanie Bass

I am a Pat Miller Certified trainer and have worked with dogs in a shelter setting as well as in homes.

Certifications: PMCT2

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: I do basic good manners training as well as behavior modification.

Behavioral issue focus: Reactivity, general household manners.

Training methods: I am a science based force free trainer. I work with each dog as an individual and find what works best for them, while making sure they are safe, happy, and healthy throughout the process. Training should be fun for all parties involved and as stress free as possible.

Why I became a dog trainer: I had dogs of my own with behavioral concerns and needed a deeper understanding of how learning works and how to best help them. Turns out, I loved it and wanted to spread that knowledge.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Watching dogs learn.

My #1 dog training tip: Dogs do more of what works and less of what doesn't.

Service areas: Surry County


Laurie C. Williams

Trainer and behavior consultant of 35 years

Certifications: CCUI CDTI

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: All breeds, all ages basic through competition level.

Behavioral issue focus: Reactive behavior, resource guarding. Separation anxiety

Training methods: Positive reinforcement

Why I became a dog trainer: Love teaching people how to communicate with their dogs

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Seeing dogs and their guardians form lifelong bonds

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

Service areas: Stafford County

Website: https://www.pupniro.com


Susan Aceti

For 15 years, I shared my life with Molly, a black lab mix. She was my first dog and I adopted her at six months from a local animal shelter. I knew her history - that she had been locked in a basement for the first six months of her life, but I didn't know how much it would affect her.

I didn't know that she would react to any new dog or person with a scary display of hostility. You can see more of Molly's story here. I learned how to work with her to develop a calm response to the things that scared her and she lived a wonderful life with a few human and dog friends. Molly died in 2017 and I still miss her. But I decided to put off getting another dog and started a dog boarding business in 2018. Not having a dog of my own, I figured I could provide a place for owners whose challenging dogs couldn't be around other dogs.

Soon I found myself constantly turning down requests for bookings because the nature of challenging dogs inherently limited what I could do. Usually, I could only take one dog at a time (unless they already lived in the same household). Out of this came the idea for Challenging Dogs Boarding and Daycare - to increase my capacity by contracting with a small pool of other sitters who would follow the same stringent guidelines I do: carefully helping fearful dogs in a positive, safe way and ensuring a comfortable safe space for them.

Services include:

  • Board and train

Website: https://challengingdogs.com/


Hannah Fuqua

Hi I'm Hannah! I'm the Head Trainer at Canine Adventure. I graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Zooology. When I moved to Richmond I began working at the Richmond SPCA training the shelter dogs. This along with my own dogs and fosters as well as my time walking dogs has been instrumental in educating me on dogs of all personalities, breeds, and behaviors. I love every single one of them and can't wait to help you with yours!

Certifications: CPDT-KA

Services include:

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

More info about service provided: Myself and my team at Canine Adventure provide workshops, group hikes, in-home training, and day training

Behavioral issue focus: I have lots of of experience with fearful, reactive, and aggressive dogs. I enjoy helping dogs getting along with each other too!

Training methods: We first have an intake call to discuss needs and start management. Then we have a 2 hour in home session. After this client's can start Trainer support Visit where a team member trains solo with your dog and send a detailed report and/or continue with 1 hour private lessons.

Why I became a dog trainer: I have always been obsessed with animals, dogs particularly. I believe they are the best thing about human existence. Every dog deserves a safe, fun, and loving home and everyone human deserves an enjoyable companion. I am so thankful for the knowledge and experience I have accumulated over the years to help accomplish this.

My favorite part of being a dog trainer: Helping people discover the amazing qualities their dog has! As well as bringing simplicity, safety, and, playfulness to human lives.

My #1 dog training tip: Get curious! About what your dog needs, what you need, and how you can accomplish both while having some fun!

Service areas: Richmond City, Lakeside, Church Hill, Short Pump, Forest Hill, Midlothian

Website: https://canineadventure.net


Sniffspot Richmond Top Trainer Frequently Asked Questions

How are Richmond dog trainers selected for this list?

These are the top dog trainers in Richmond 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 Richmond 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 Richmond?

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 Richmond 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 Richmond cost?

Richmond 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 Richmond dog trainer. How can I get listed here?

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

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 Virginia was $35,742 per year and $17.18 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

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See The Best Dog Trainers In Other Virginia Cities

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

Langley, VA
Newport News, VA
Norfolk, VA
Virginia Beach, VA


See The Best Dog Trainers In Other States Near Virginia

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

Kentucky
Maryland
North Carolina
Tennessee

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Merlin Noble photo

Merlin Noble

May 30, 2023

Dog Trainers

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