Photo Credit:  Peter Hellberg

Aleta Shelton, Competitive Obedience

Methodology - Do No Harm. I believe every exercise can be learned with positive reinforcement, patience and kindness. You may get results with negative reinforcement, but you hurt your relationship with your dog in the process. Is it worth it? I believe not.

Passions - I love to compete in dog obedience and dog sports, such as tracking. Out of the ring, I love strength and entrance training. I also love to draw and paint when I have the time to do it.

Favorite skill to teach - I love to teach detail oriented tasks, such as competitive obedience. I love to watch dogs learn a new task or exercise and love the moment when they "get it".

Biggest challenge - Teaching clients patience. Usually a dog does not do what we ask because they do not understand what we want. We give mixed signals, either verbally or physically or both. Our dog's response and ability to learn a task is only as good as our ability to communicate with them.

Photo Credit:  Meagan Moore

Photo Credit: Meagan Moore

Melody Gonzales-Choate, Tricks

Methodology - I am a positive reinforcement trainer proficient in the use of clicker/ marker training with an emphasis in operant conditioning and canine ethology. My humorous and adaptive class environment addresses all learning styles and creates a warm and supportive environment. My proven training philosophy is to not just train dogs but rather to inspire and empower the "inner trainer" in my students.

Passions - Books, books, and more books! A self-professed dog nerd, I am passionate about adapting my training style with each new discovery. I am a wife and mother to two children and one rescue dog. Along with being an award-winning portrait artist I also enjoy upcycling furniture and vintage clothing redesign. My current hobbies include (rank) amateur Taekwondo and grocery shopping as a competitive sport.

Favorite skill to teach - My favorite skill is teaching humans how to speak dog. I use translation of canine body language along with human body language to assist the dog in understanding. This results in the moment that inspires my work: the lightbulb moment when the dog first realizes what their humans are trying to ask them to do! Their wonder and Delight is palpable! 

Biggest challenge - Saving lives. While I have had my share of training challenges, the biggest challenge remains unchanged: keeping dogs in their homes that would otherwise be surrendered due to problems that can be fixed through training. Being a last line of defense for a dog and advocating for the innocent will always be my greatest responsibility and challenge because a life hangs in the balance