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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.  Laura trains three Border Collies in agility and competes at USDAA Masters level.

 

MELISSA BISHOP, CPDT-KA

Melissa Bishop

Lead Trainer and WOOFing since 2012

  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • Professional Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)
  • Active founding member of regional USDAA club, VA Ruff Riders, LLC
  • National agility competitor, titling 5 dogs and earning USDAA Championships (ADCH) with 2 dogs

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 starred in a TV commercial (thanks also to Laura Sharkey!) and as Sandy in two different stage productions of the musical Annie.  Melissa is a founding member of VA Ruff Riders, LLC, a local USDAA agility club that hosts three trials a year, including the Mid-Atlantic Agility Showcase.  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!”

 

PATTI CARUTHERS, 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.

 

ZACH GOBLE

Zach Goble

Assistant Manager, Assistant Trainer and WOOFing since 2013

  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • BS Psychology with Animal Science minor

Zach teaches Basic Obedience and trains dogs in our Board & Train and Dayschool programs.  He is also a full-time manager at WOOFS!, helping to keep daycare and boarding on track.  Zach likes to hike and explore with his dog, Grover, who was originally a WOOFS! foster puppy.

 

SUZANNE HEENAN

Suzanne Heenan

Assistant Trainer and WOOFing since 2014

  • TAGteach Primary Certification
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Professional Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

Suzanne's interest in training was sparked by her late dog, Annie - a deaf pit bull. She says, "Annie taught me to be very aware of my body language, and how to communicate and build trust without talking. I learned so much about how to train all dogs by training one deaf dog. Since 2005, Suzanne has volunteered with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, working with dogs, cats, and small companion animals. She meets with potential adopters for pre-adoption counseling sessions, is a Lead Monitor for dog playgroups, trains dogs in the training program, and helps to address individual behavior challenges. Suzanne also ran a children’s tutoring program for two years. She says "Teaching kids and teaching dogs are similar because positive reinforcement builds trust and creates eager learners in both."

 

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
  • Mentor for Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior
  • TAGteach Level 1 Certification
  • Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CDTI)
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Professional Member of Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)
  • Professional Member of Pet Professional Guild (PPG)
  • 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 teaches all levels from Basic through Advanced Obedience, Rally Obedience and Tricks.  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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Trainer and WOOFing since 2015

  • BA Sociology with a minor in Equine Studies
  • Grand Prix Semi-Finalists at Cynosport World Games 2014 and 2015
  • 1st in Master Series Final at UKI National Championships, 8" dogs, 2015
  • 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, CPDT-KA

Carrie Williams

Site Manager, Lead Trainer and WOOFing since 2010

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

Carrie is our Registration Manager and Shirlington Site Manager, and teaches Basic and Intermediate Obedience classes. Carrie has volunteered with and fostered 32 dogs for Bully Paws rescue organization since 2006. Carrie learned that foster dogs with nice manners were quicker to find homes and more likely to stay in those homes, so she puts special emphasis on teaching dogs to be well-mannered members of their homes and communities. Before joining WOOFS!, Carrie gained seven years of combined experience as a veterinary assistant and receptionist for Tackett's Mill Veterinary Hospital and Hunter Mill Animal Hospital, and she has nine years of experience as an environmental scientist specializing in wetlands and water resource management.

 

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.

Cynthia Robertson
Cynthia Robertson

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Sara Russell

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Spencer Smith

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Jan Baker

Meghan Guicciardini
Meg Guicciardini

 

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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