Hi! I’m John and the pretty girl sharing the view is Kaya, our 12 year old Siberian Husky who is the inspiration behind our logo and so much more. While I’ve always been a dog lover and outdoor enthusiast, Kaya’s addition to our family over a decade ago completely transformed my outlook on life.

We began spending more and more of our free time out on the trails, up in the mountains, or along any shoreline we could find. My adventures with Kaya in addition to time spent volunteering at animal shelters, opened my eyes to what’s now become a true passion in my life – helping dogs & their humans too.

My time spent volunteering at animal shelters in New York and the Seattle area got me hooked on positive reinforcement training.  Its effect on the dogs in these shelters who were simply trying to cope with everyday life was immediate and extremely inspiring.  Through my work with dogs of varying backgrounds & challenges, I developed a solid set of practical skills while learning the fundamentals of animal learning theory & positive reinforcement training – but I wanted to learn more….much more.

In early 2017, I was accepted into a Dog Behavior & Training Certification Program at the Northwest School of Canine Studies in Seattle. Upon achieving a Certificate in Canine Studies (C.C.S.), I had the opportunity to assist at two well established dog training facilities in the Seattle area.  My experiences at both locations were rewarding in that they enabled me to gain hands on experience outside of a shelter environment.  I served as a basic manners and obedience class instructor, facilitated private training sessions, and managed play groups as part of a traditional doggie daycare program.  At the same time, I continued my career in Corporate America in various leadership roles in both sales and customer service channels.  I did not realize at the time how valuable the skills I had developed in that part of my life would carry over into the dog training world.  Successful Dog Training requires an ability to work and communicate effectively with people first & foremost. This realization helped to change the course of my life and in April of 2018, I left my career in Corporate America and DogSmart was born.

In April of 2021, we added Fiadh a Border Collie to our family who has created a new “energy” within our family dynamic leading to many new adventures & experiences – each one rewarding and educational. If that was not enough change, an opportunity presented itself earlier this year which led to our relocation from Seattle to San Diego #rainorshine.

This is an exciting time in the dog training community as more and more scientific studies are promoting the benefits of training with positive reinforcement.  Staying up to date on the latest information is required which is why I’m committed to continuing education which includes private study as well as attending seminars & conferences hosted by leading trainers from across the US. All of this adds up to a minimum of 50 hours annually.  

Certifications & Continuing Education

  • Certificate in Canine Studies (C.C.S.) – Northwest School of Canine Studies – June 2017
  • Handling Mistakes & Problem Solving Seminar – Karen Pryor National Training Center – October 2017
  • Clicker Expo 2018 – Karen Pryor Clicker Training – January 2018
  • What a Cue Can Do – 2 Day Seminar with Kathy Sdao – April 2018
  • TAG Teach Seminar – July 2018
  • Clicker Expo 2019 – Karen Pryor Clicker Training – January 2019
  • APDT Annual Conference & Seminar – October 2019
  • Clicker Expo 2020 – Karen Pryor Clicker Training – January 2020
  • Aggression Case Sessions with Michael Shikashio (Grisha Stewart) – March 2020
  • Tween Puppy Sessions with Grisha Stewart – April 2020
  • Master Course – Aggression in Dogs (Michael Shikashio) – May 2020
  • Dog-Dog Aggression Cases with Michael Shikashio (Grisha Stewart) – July 2020
  • FDSA – All the Sports – Sara Brueske – August 2020
  • FDSA – May the Reinforce be with you – Chrissi Schranz – September 2020
  • FDSA – Bombproof Behaviors – Sara Brueske – October 2020
  • FDSA – Tricks with a Purpose – Sara Brueske – November 2020
  • FDSA – Baby Genius – January 2021
  • FDSA – Intro to Nosework – Julie Symons – February 2021
  • Separation Anxiety Dog – Moira Hechenleitner – March 2021
  • FDSA – Toys: Developing Cooperation & Play – May 2021
  • FDSA – Crazy Good! Self Control Games for the Wild Child – June 2021
  • FDSA – Helping Fearful, Reactive, & Stressed Dogs – July 2021
  • FDSA – Raising a Performance Puppy – July 2021
  • FDSA – Working with Reactive & Hyper-aroused Dogs – August 2021

Recommended Reading

  • Reading Now! Canine Enrichment for the Real World – Allie Bender & Emily Strong
  • Atomic Habits – James Clear
  • Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy – Zazie Todd
  • Dog is Love – Clive D.L. Wine, Ph.D.
  • Don’t Shoot the Dog – Karen Pryor
  • Reaching the Animal Mind – Karen Pryor
  • The Culture Clash – Jean Donaldson
  • Mine! – Jean Donaldson
  • For the Love of a Dog – Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.
  • The Other End of the Leash – Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.
  • On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals – Turid Rugaas
  • Click to Calm – Emma Parsons
  • B.A.T. Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0 – Grisha Steward
  • From Fearful to Fear Free – Marty Becker, DVM