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Our team cares. We have the experience and education to tackle your behavior issues with kindness and empathy, and have you and your dog’s well-being in mind.
CDBC, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FDM, FFCP
I started Freak on a Leash in 2015 because I am passionate about positive reinforcement training and teaching people the kindest ways of interacting with their dogs. I am a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). I am also a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Family Dog Mediator (https://www.familydogmediation.com/), and Fear Free Certified Professional.
My specialty is treating challenging behaviors like aggression, anxiety, and fear and I am thoroughly educated in treating problem behaviors safely and kindly. One of my highest priorities is ongoing education. I stay current on the latest science-based methods of training, allowing me to help you get the best results in the shortest amount of time.
Lasting behavior change takes patience and teamwork. Dogs are motivated by many things and we can find reinforcement that works; sometimes we just have to get creative! If crocodiles, dolphins, and wolves can be trained with rewards, why use painful devices on your best friend? I want you and your dog to live happily together, and I am confident I can help you reach your training goals!
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) with IAABC
Certified Behavior Consultant Canine – Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) with CCPDT
Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) with CCPDT
Professional Member of The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT)
Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI)
Certified Stunt Dog Judge
Fear Free Certified Professional (FFCP)
Pet FirstAid / CPR Certified
AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Instructor
AKC TemperamentTest Evaluator (ATT)
A short sampling of attended workshops and seminars:
- Dogs with Big Feelings conference
- Applied Behavior Analysis
- Michael Shikashio’s Aggression Cases from A-Z
- Aggression in Dogs conferences
Dr. Tim Lewis – The Biology of Dog Aggression
- Behavior Bible – School of Canine Science
- L.E.G.S. In Motion conference
- Living and Learning with Animals course
After spending 30 years as a biology professor and training dogs all my life, I began teaching professionally. My experience with dogs ranges from owning a sled dog kennel in Michigan, training for the show, obedience, and Rally rings, and teaching classes for local obedience clubs.
I specialize in changing mouthy, rambunctious puppies and out-of-control adolescent dogs into calm and well-mannered pups. I love teaching loose leash walking since it is an area where many dog owners struggle. I am available for private in-home training and also teach Canine Good Citizen and Basic Manners classes. Holding small group classes in outdoor public spaces gives dogs lots of practice in responding well around real world distractions, a highly practical life skill.
I live in Chesapeake with my two Irish Wolfhounds, Echo and Siren, and two retired greyhounds from the track. Spending time training with positive reinforcement methods builds a very strong bond between you and your dog, which makes for happy people and happy dogs!
I have been in the dog world for almost three decades. After spending my childhood consumed with horses, I got my first dog in college—a whippet. So began my journey into the world of dog training and more specifically dog sports, which became a primary focus for over 10 years.
In 2009 I was exposed to the field of applied behavior analysis. This started an interest in the science of learning and behavior and a deeper understanding of positive reinforcement and rewards-based training, paving the way for my involvement in professional training. I find the study of behavior so fascinating and regularly continue my education in all things behavior modification.
I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through CCPDT and Fear Free Certified. I enjoy helping dogs of all ages with everything from foundational training and socialization to addressing maladaptive behaviors. I also love volunteering my time with service dogs in training and shelter animals.
I have a young pit bull/beagle mix named Topsy—a high energy, super fun “foster fail” who loves being busy and is currently training for some sports!
My love for dogs started at a young age. I grew up with two or three dogs at a time, mostly Great Pyrenees. In 2017, I began volunteering for Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and found my passion for dog training. Since then, I have raised and trained numerous future assistance dogs through various non-profit organizations. After graduating from college, I worked for a service dog organization transforming their kennel to be a positive environment, working through “undesirable” behaviors and providing enrichment to the dogs. I continue to volunteer for assistance dog organizations by raising service dogs in training and teaching training classes.
In 2021, I moved to Virginia Beach with my excitable golden retriever, Addy, who loves hiking, swimming, and trick training.
My goal is to help humans and their dogs build a good relationship with each other through positive reinforcement methods. Training your pet and working through behaviors can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be – I love making the training process fun for both you and your dog! I thoroughly enjoy working with puppies and adolescent dogs. I can help you provide a solid foundation and basic manners for your dog through in-home training and group classes.
I began positive reinforcement training in 2018 under a mentor through Petco. Their positive dog training program is based in scientifically-sound methods.
Shortly after I began to work at my local SPCA. I was able to observe and learn from a multitude of animal behaviors throughout my tenure there, in addition to doing long-term desensitization work with cats.
I worked with high-energy dogs with poor walking/social skills, including shaping polite behavior from the moment I stepped in front of the kennel, polite harnessing, loose leash-walking, and gaining focus for redirection purposes. The shelter environment is hardly ideal for learning, but with guidance, the dogs managed to pick up manners regardless!
I’m an accredited dog trainer with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and love coaching pet parents. Whether they helicopter too much, set no boundaries at all, or have all the knowledge and resources to get it right, they all love their animals and want what’s best for them! As much as we interact with the pets, in the end it’s their people we’re really training.
Teaching people how to navigate reactivity with kind and humane techniques is what I find most rewarding. It is life-altering not being able to enjoy your dog to the fullest due to reactivity. I also enjoy helping dogs struggling with aggression, fears and phobias, separation anxiety, or other behavior issues.
I live in Smithfield, VA and share my life with a gaggle of misfit bully breed mixes and an Australian Shepherd. Rescue dogs are a big part of my life, and I often share my home with foster dogs from a local bully rescue. I love seeing them relax and learn, and preparing them for their forever homes. I train and compete with my own dogs in sports like Fast CAT and Barn Hunt. There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing a dog follow his natural instincts!
From a young age, I have held an abiding passion for animals. Our family had a Sealyham Terrier and cat until I was nine, when my first horse and dog joined the mix—a Border Collie/Greyhound mix. My involvement with 4H marked the start of my equestrian and canine sports training journey, which has continued to this day.
While working at an Arabian horse training facility, I obtained my first Australian Shepherd who soon found success competing in various forms of obedience as well as conformation shows—paving the way for our current trio of Australian Shepherds. We also have a sweet Pomeranian along with two cats.
I have found dog sports to be a great way to connect with my dogs, as well as provide enrichment for them. Aside from sports such as Conformation, Rally, Agility, Herding, and Drafting, we also pursue Dock Diving and dive deep into the world of Scent Work (Nose Work). I enjoy teaching Scent Work since it is such a great sport for confidence and team building. Dogs are simply amazing!
Ph.D. Organizational Management
I have been training and competing in dog sports for 16+ years. This type of training has highlighted, for me, the importance of and need for true “teamwork” with your canine partner. We adopted a rough collie, Chesnee, when she was 9 months old, and we quickly learned she wasn’t really interested in people. As much as I wanted us to learn about agility, she just wanted to chase squirrels – and me! We spent the next 4 years doing sheep herding, which helped us develop a working relationship and a deep teamwork bond. After that, I was able to begin training agility with her. That experience taught me that relationship-building is the foundation for any dog sport, and that it’s the relationship, not the accomplishments, that keeps the game fun for both you and your partner.
When I started dog agility training, I did not expect to compete; in my mind, it was just a hobby we played in our spare time. Well, it didn’t take long for the agility bug to bite! Chesnee and I played agility for 6 years and earned a combined 16 NADAC Agility Trial Championships (NATCHs), 10 regular NATCHs and 6 Versatility NATCHs. We also earned multiple Hall of Fame awards and the distinction of being the #1 Collie team in NADAC agility for her last 3 years (2015 – 2017). I am now training and trialing with my sheltie, Liv. We are working our way through the Open (intermediate) classes and solidifying our teamwork. In addition to agility, I have trained and competed in herding with my collie and scentwork with one of our other shelties.
I retired from my day job 4 years ago. I was a Management Professor in the business school at ODU, teaching and researching topics related to employee and group development. And yes, I do “practice what I preach” and apply all the knowledge gleaned about employee motivation to dog training and team development. 😊