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  • “Salespeople were very courteous, knowledgeable about the products they sold, helpful in assisting us in selecting which items were appropriate for our puppy, and seemed to actually take a sincere and personal interest in our dog. This is such a refreshing change from the impersonal and disinterested treatment that customers usually receive from sales people in stores these days. Shopping at Especially for Pets was an especially pleasant experience for us! Thank you!” - Cooper E.
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The training instructors at Especially for Pets base their classes on positive reinforcement and motivational techniques which makes training fun for both you and your dog. This creates a much happier and more willing dog who will bond more easily with his family. The goal of our instructors is to enable owners to develop a deeper understanding and stronger relationship with their dog. They emphasize communication as the key to successful training. Their training methods along with their vast experience will provide you and your dog with a rewarding learning experience.

Our staff is comprised of experienced instructors who are well respected in their field. All of our instructors are certified by The American Kennel Club as S.T.A.R. Puppy and Canine Good Citizen.

  • Amy Schuller, Trainer

    Amy enjoys problem solving and using positive reinforcement to help owners and their dogs better understand each other. She believes it's important to teach dog owners how to read canine body language and if people can learn to “read” what their dog is “saying,” they will have a better opportunity for mutual communication. When both the handler and the dog understand each other, training can become easier and more effective and fun for both parties. Amy believes that as our dog’s caregiver, we should create an environment in which our dog will be set up for success.  Amy acquired her certification in Canine Behavior and Training at Mt. Ida College and is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She grew up with animals and has always loved watching people and their pets interact with each other.  Amy has two pit bull mixes and a hound lab mix, all of which are rescues. She loves to work her dogs in nose work, dock-diving, biking and running.
  • Angela Nickerson, Trainer

    Angela serves as the Intake/Adoption Coordinator for Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue and is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She has been a Board member and officer for over ten years with The New England Federation of Humane Societies. She is a member of the Especially for Pets Dog Training Academy Development Team and teaches in Sudbury.
  • Breanna Leonard, Trainer

    Breanna started working professionally with dogs at the age of 16 and began training in kennels and daycares before her career at Especially for Pets. Breanna acquired her certification in Canine Behavior and Training at Mount Ida College in 2011. She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator and has apprenticed under a number of trainers. Breanna believes there is no "one-size fits all" method for effective dog training and she draws on her experience to evaluate both dog and handler in order to achieve success. Breanna works with her clients to find what works for both human and canine and she does not believe in one training style to the exclusion of all others. Breanna is the proud owner of four rescued pit bull-type dogs. She has trained them in agility, obedience, CGC, dockdogs, and more.
  • Christine Macdonald, Trainer

    Christine believes that training is the necessary foundation to a lifelong relationship with one’s dog. It helps strengthen the bond between families and their canine. Christine’s passion is sharing the positive, therapeutic qualities a pet can have on human life. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Pets and People Foundation and is involved in demonstrating Therapy Dog techniques for prospective volunteers. Christine also serves as Secretary and Administrative Assistant. In 2007, The Pets and People Foundation honored Christine with the Lollipop Award for outstanding service. Christine, her three therapy dogs and one retired therapy cat that have made over 375 Pet Therapy visits. In her free time, Christine enjoys working her dogs in agility and freestyle. She believes in consistency and patience in training and believes that training your dog should be fun. Christine feels it is very rewarding to see an owner and a dog bond during her classes. She currently owns an adopted mixed breed and two adopted Standard Poodles. Christine teaches in Acton and Westborough.
  • Dave Flahive, Trainer

    Dave has an extensive background in canine rescue, search and rescue and canine law enforcement. He has over 18 years of experience in helping families and dogs enjoy a long and safe life together. Dave’s extensive background also includes working with New England Akita Rescue and training family pet dogs. He has trained at the national and international level, as well as provided resident training services. Dave teaches in Wayland and Canton.
  • Gail McCarthy, Trainer

    Gail has been training detection dogs since 1992. She is the Training Director for the Massachusetts Rescue & Recovery K9 Unit and is the Chairperson of, and a Canine Evaluator with, the Massachusetts State Search and Rescue Federation. Gail is also a Canine Handler with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue, Massachusetts Task Force 1 as well as FEMA Disaster Dog Evaluator. She is also a NACSW Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) and a NACSW Trial Judge. At the Official Nose Work Trial held this 2012 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, seven of the canine teams that titled NW2 were students with whom Gail worked. Additionally, at the Official Nose Work Trial held in the fall of 2012 in Dighton, Massachusetts, the highest placed NW1 winner was a student with whom Gail worked and the second highest placed NW2 winner was also a student. For a listing of her other students' successes in K9 Nose Work™, go to Gail's website. Gail teaches K9 Nose Work in Sudbury.
  • Janice Ritter, Trainer

    Janice has been training dogs as great family pets and as competition participants for 17 years. She co-founded German Shepherd Rescue of New England, Inc. (GSRNE) and ran their foster home program for over a decade. With that experience, Janice has practical solutions for behavior issues to offer the busy pet owner and family, and she fully understands rescue dog issues. Janice has qualified for national level competition with her German Shepherds in two different sports. She is currently training her Belgian Malinois puppy for competition obedience, agility, and scent detection work. Janice teaches in Westborough.
  • Kate Horgan-Burke, Trainer

    Kate is a lifelong dog owner, with over ten years experience as a professional dog trainer. She completed course work in animal behavior and training and has apprenticed with behavioral specialists and trainers. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and a board member of the Charles River Dog Training Club. Kate’s experience as a former mobility instructor for visually impaired individuals, some of whom had additional special needs, strengthens her skills in dog training. Kate owns Fat-Coated Retrievers who are titled in the areas of obedience, conformation and field. Kate’s goal is to train people to train their dogs. Kate teaches in Sudbury and Acton.
  • Leslie, Director of Obedience Training

    Leslie has been with Especially for Pets since 1994. During this time, she has created and implemented a number of the educational programs offered at Especially for Pets. She is Especially for Pets' Obedience Director and also helps to develop a variety of special, community based projects and events. Leslie states that "working for Especially for Pets has been a pleasure and a privilege.” She feels that the company culture truly respects and encourages each employee bring their particular talents and interests to the table. As a result “this is why Especially for Pets is an industry leader in the retail sector and more importantly, a large contributor to humane and animal awareness." Leslie’s personal canine passion is being a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), which is a nationwide, non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities, other than blindness. She has served as President for CCI's New England volunteer group. Currently, she is the Volunteer Trainer for New England-based puppy raisers. As volunteer puppy raisers, Leslie and her family train, socialize, care for and love one of these special puppies for the first 18 months of his life.  After this, the puppy enters advanced training with the goal of graduating and being placed with a disabled person. Leslie has had the honor of raising seven puppies for CCI; Lively, Zillah, Enzi, Titan, Bogie, Jason and Bryn.
  • Marita Everhart, Trainer

    Marita is a certified AKC CGC® Approved Evaluator and has worked with dogs in various capacities for over 13 years. She grew up with German Shepherds and is currently excitedly awaiting a new Australian Shepherd puppy with whom she plans to compete in agility and canine freestyle. Marita focuses on positive reinforcement training and loves to problem-solve and help owners better communicate with their canine companions. Marita teaches in Medway, Newton, Wayland and Westborough.
  • Robin Fiore, Trainer

    Robin has been a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) since 1996 and has raised over twelve puppies. Robin trains with a fair and consistent methodology that encourages owners to have great expectations of their canines while having fun. She facilitates a positive but not permissive relationship between owner and pup as she demonstrates how to 'think dog'. Robin’s leadership and training techniques work to foster good manners both at home and in real life settings. Knowing puppies and their phases of development, her goal is to assist owners in achieving a relationship that they're proud of and raising a happy dog. Robin regularly works with dog owners in real life scenarios with ‘on the road’ training experiences. Robin is a member of National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). She shares her home with her yellow Labrador Retriever Micah. As a team, Robin and Micah are active in the sport of K9 Nose Work and have earned NW1 and NW2 titles. Robin teaches in Medway.
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