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Meet Our Trainers

DR. LAURA SHARKEY, KPA CTP

Laura Sharkey

Owner & Training Director since 2002

  • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP)
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) 2005-2014
  • Operation Socialization Certified Trainer (OSCT)
  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Presenter at ClickerExpo 2014 in Norfolk, VA
  • Presenter at Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) annual conference 2012
  • Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Membership Committee 2011
  • Professional Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)
  • Numerous agility competition titles

Laura is a specialist in puppy development and has more than a decade of experience helping dogs and dog owners. She has taught hundreds of public dog training classes and worked one-on-one with dogs of all breeds, sizes, and temperament. Laura’s strong scientific background — she has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Georgetown — drives her approach to dog training. She established the WOOFS! training program which uses only positive reinforcement training methods based on modern behavioral science.  Meet Laura at Nosework class, various Basic Obedience classes and Saturday Puppy Party.

 

MELISSA BISHOP, CPDT-KA

Melissa Bishop

Lead Trainer and WOOFing since 2012

  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • Numerous agility competition titles

Melissa has been working with dogs for over 20 years and teaching classes since 1997. She competed in junior showmanship and obedience with her family’s Vizslas as a teenager and later got hooked on dog agility in 1998. She has competed in agility with five of her dogs and her most cherished accomplishment is the P-ADCH she earned with her mixed-breed dog Friday in 2011. Friday has also starred in a TV commercial (thanks also to Laura Sharkey!) and as Sandy in two different stage productions of the musical Annie. She is a professional musician and the mother of two boys and she says, “What I have learned about dog training and animal behavior has made me a better parent and musician. Positive reinforcement works!”

 

SUSY ESCALANTE, ABCDT

Susy Escalante

Assistant Trainer and WOOFing since 2011

  • Graduate of Animal Behavior College

Susy teaches Puppy Kindergarten, Puppy Basic, and Adult Basic classes, and she trains in agility with her Golden Retriever Polly. She has been a professional dog walker, pet sitter, and daycare attendant, giving her experience in many aspects of dog husbandry and behavior. Additionally, she was a volunteer dog walker for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Supervising Puppy Party is one of Susy's favorite things to do at WOOFS! Dog Trainer Center. She says, "Socialization is a very critical stage in puppyhood and I enjoy being part of what can be a life-changing, positive experience for puppies and their owners. And of course, it’s hard not to smile when you're surrounded by puppies!"

 

MELISSA FRYE

Melissa Frye

Senior Trainer and WOOFing since 2005

  • AKC Agility Judge since 2010

Melissa has been actively training and competing since the mid 1990's in Obedience, Rally, Tracking, Fieldwork, Coursing, conformation, flyball, and her main love - dog agility. Melissa runs the WOOFS! agility program, which is the largest agility program inside the Beltway.  She has been teaching agility full time since 2004 and is an AKC agility judge. Her agility accomplishments include numerous MACHs on three cocker spaniels and the #1 Ibizan Hound in AKC agility for several years.  She has made several trips to the AKC Nationals and brought two dogs to National Team try-outs.  Under her leadership, our agility students compete successfully in all venues, have attended Nationals, the AKC Invitational, and have also achieved #1 rankings within their own breeds.

 

PATTI HIGHT, CPDT-KA

Patti Hight

Lead Trainer, Behavior Consultant and WOOFing since 2009

  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
  • Operation Socialization Certified Trainer (OSCT)
  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Professional Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

Patti teaches Basic and Intermediate Obedience, and meets with families and their dogs for private obedience training.  Patti is passionate about helping people to improve their relationship with their dogs and to “unlock the fun” in their time together.  A member of the Spinone Club of America since 2006, Patti does hunt training and Rally Obedience with her Italian Spinone, Zita, and she takes her Australian Cattle Dog Dudley out to round up the sheep.

 

DESIREE LOMER-CLARKE, CPDT-KA

Lead Trainer and WOOFing since 2009

  • Owner of successful Arlington dog walking company Arlington Dog Nanny
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • Operation Socialization Certified Trainer (OSCT)
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Full Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

Desiree teaches Puppy and Adult Basic Obedience classes and describes herself as a “Recovering Attorney”.  She discovered her passion for working with dogs while taking classes with us at WOOFS! Dog Training Center, and ultimately left her practice to apprentice with us and to found her own dog walking business. Desiree enjoys agility training with her two Mini Australian Shepherds, Chewie and Wicket.

 

EMILIA LUCZAK

Emilia Luczak

Assistant Trainer and WOOFing since 2010

  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • Certified in Pet First Aid and CPR

Emilia teaches Puppy Kindergarten, Puppy Basic, and Adult Basic classes. In her day job, she is a Dog Walking Manager with Arlington Dog Nanny, and she was a Veterinary Assistant for three years at Hollin Hall Animal Hospital in Alexandria. Emilia says, "Growing up in Poland there weren’t many opportunities to work with animals. I studied English Philology, or the study of everything and anything associated with English language, however once I arrived in the USA, I realized that the animal-related opportunities that I’ve always dreamt of are now available."

 

ERICA PYTLOVANY, KPA CTP

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Operations Manager, Senior Trainer, Behavior Consultant and WOOFing since 2007

  • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP)
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), 2008-2014
  • Operation Socialization Certified Trainer (OSCT)
  • TAGteach Level 1 Certification
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Professional Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)
  • Competition titles in Rally Obedience as well as accomplishments in agility, obedience, and sheep herding

Erica has worked with hundreds of dogs and their human families on issues ranging from house training and basics to reactivity, aggression, separation anxiety, and other behavioral concerns.  She runs the WOOFS! Rally Obedience training program as well as the Board & Train program.  She also heads up staff training for daycare and boarding operations, teaching the WOOFS! team how to read and respond to every kind of dog behavior.  Erica’s writing credits include a five-part article series "People Training" in APDT’s journal Chronicle of the Dog, columns for Natural Awakenings Magazine and the Washington Post, and she contributed to the 2010 book “Top Tips From Top Trainers”.  Erica is also a volunteer Keeper’s Aide on the Asia Trail at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

 

JANE SAUNDERS

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Assistant Trainer and WOOFing since 2015

  • BA Sociology with a minor in Equine Studies
  • Grand Prix Semi-Finalists at Cynosport World Games 2014
  • Numerous agility titles

Jane has been training dogs since 2006, although her love of animal training started in childhood when she trained her cats and pet mice to run obstacle courses.  Her first dog, Frankie, was 11 months old when adopted and she brought him from his first competition to USDAA Nationals (Cynosport World Games) in just 8 months.  Jane and Frankie have competed in 4 different dog agility venues (USDAA, AKC, ASCA, and UKI), and are competing at the highest level in 3 of those venues;  her young Border Collie, Katniss, has started to compete as well.  Jane has many years of experience in teaching, presenting, and customer service, and she spent a year as a kennel supervisor.  Jane’s training philosophy:  whether you want a well-mannered family pet, a sport dog or both, you need to have a strong foundation and never skimp on the basics!

 

DIANE SULLENBERGER, CPDT-KA

Diane Sullenberger

Lead Trainer and WOOFing since 1999

  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), 2003-2009
  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • Operation Socialization Certified Trainer (OSCT)
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Professional Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)
  • BS in Biology

Diane has trained for us since we were still PR Dogs, giving her the prize for WOOFS! trainer seniority. She places a high value on continuing education: she has attended APDT annual conference since 2003 when she earned her CPDT certification and her day job in science publishing gives her fast access to newly published literature on animal behavior and cognition. She has volunteered with the US Park Police Horse Mounted Unit horses in Washington, D.C. since 2006. Diane says, “I love working with animals and helping humans communicate effectively with them. My favorite part of teaching is finding creative solutions to problem behaviors.”

 

JENNIFER THOMAS, KPA CTP

Jennifer Thomas

Trainer, Behavior Consultant and WOOFing since 2014

  • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP)
  • TAGteach Primary Certification

Jen works with our Board & Train and Dayschool dogs, teaches Puppy Kindergarten, and meets with private training clients to solve behavioral challenges. Jen is a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior. She is also a Foster Dog Alliance Trainer at the Washington Humane Society, who provides low cost training for foster owners and their foster dogs. Jen is a recovering lawyer who is delighted to now be working with dogs full time. She clicker trains her guinea pig, Piglet, has played agility and Treiball, and loves backpacking with her partner and their dogs.

 

CARRIE WILLIAMS

Carrie Williams

Site Manager, Lead Trainer and WOOFing since 2010

  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • Operation Socialization Certified Trainer (OSCT)
  • Professional Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

Carrie is our Site Manager, keeping things ship-shape with day care operations and handling training registration. Carrie has been a foster parent and a volunteer with the Bully Paws rescue organization since 2006 and has fostered 27 dogs (and counting). Before joining WOOFS!, she gained seven years of combined experience as a veterinary assistant and receptionist for Tackett's Mill Veterinary Hospital and Hunter Mill Animal Hospital. In college, Carrie studied biology, concentrating her coursework in botany. She has nine years of experience as an environmental scientist specializing in wetlands and water resource management, vegetation studies, benthic macroinvertebrate studies and threatened and endangered species studies.

 

Meet Our Apprentices

We couldn't run our top notch training program without the help of our industrious apprentices. These "trainers in training" dedicate an incredible amount of time to learn about training and behavior. Many are also on our daycare staff, making canine care and behavior their full time gig. You can meet our future WOOFS! trainers at most classes from Puppy Kindergarten through Intermediate.

Celeste Lyons
Celeste Lyons

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Cynthia Robertson

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Sara Russell

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Spencer Smith

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Jan Baker

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Caitlin Dunlap

Zach Goble
Zach Goble

Meghan Guicciardini
Meg Guicciardini

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Suzanne Heenan

 

About

Rewards-Based Only

At WOOFS! we use only positive reinforcement training methods grounded in the latest canine behavioral science. This dog-friendly approach is endorsed by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists, the ASPCA, and every other reputable animal organization in the country.

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