Animal Behavior College Reviews & Success Stories

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Kelly Taylor
ABC Certified Dog Trainer

President and Director of The Boxer Rescue and ABC certified dog trainer, Kelly Taylor, has been passionate about dogs her whole life. As a child, she grew up around a variety of canine breeds as well as horses. Six years ago, after losing her miniature pincher to congestive heart failure, Kelly began researching the Boxer and quickly fell in love with the breed.

Kelly decided that instead of purchasing a puppy from a breeder, she would rescue a dog that was in need of a forever home. She starting volunteering for a local rescue and adopted her first Boxer, Memphis. At the time, she was unaware of how reactive her dog would be. The first 2 weeks she had Memphis, he had to undergo major leg surgery to repair a twisted front leg, an injury incurred before arriving to the rescue. The surgeon needed to re-break his leg and take out a two inch piece of bone to pin the leg back together. Those first six months were the most difficult for Kelly because she had to care for an injured yet reactive dog. However, she knew that with the right training, she could change Memphis’ behavior problem.

A year after Kelly adopted Memphis, she decided to foster a deaf white Boxer, Treasure, through the same rescue, and ended up adopting her as well. Both dogs came with baggage, Memphis was reactive with dogs and humans and Treasure suffered from compulsive disorders with lights, shadows and just about anything that flew, jumped, crawled, hopped or blew. Kelly worked with a dog trainer for years to help both of her dogs adjust to the real world but felt that there was more that she could do for them. Motivated by her dogs, Kelly and her best friend, Lisa Barker, started The Boxer Rescue three years ago.

As Kelly and Lisa began taking in Boxers, they noticed the array of behavioral problems the surrendered dogs had. She decided to further her education and become a certified dog trainer. This additional skill would not only help her with her own dogs but also assist the rescued dogs to find permanent homes. Her hope as a certified dog trainer is to educate and work with homes to prevent some of these dogs from being surrendered. Also Kelly works with the foster homes and adoptive homes to help make the transition easier for the families and for the rescue dogs.

Kelly found Animal Behavior College and thought the curriculum was well-rounded and thorough. The study schedule fit her lifestyle nicely and she loved the externship portion of the program. The hands-on experience and knowledge she gained through her mentor, Fran Masters of Master Peace Dog Training, was invaluable. Kelly graduated ABC with honors and plans to continue her studies in dog obedience. She is currently assisting and teaching a few nights a week at Master Peace Dog Training.

PO Box 440 Grafton, MA 01519, 800-471-2030,


Patrick Rausch
ABC Certified Dog Trainer

Last year, Minnesota resident Patrick Rausch decided he needed a change in his life. Even though he was working as a lead mechanic at Cold Spring Brewing Company, he was searching for a career that would provide professional as well as personal fulfillment. Patrick always knew that he had a passion for dogs and started seeking jobs where he could work with them. His sentiments towards dogs were further affirmed when his own dog, Hunter, helped him through a rough patch in his life. Patrick believes “dogs have an endless love for their owner and accept you for who you are. He [Hunter] has always been there for me. I would have never been able to get through this difficult time without him. That’s when I decided I wanted to become a dog trainer.”

Once Patrick was determined to pursue a career as a dog trainer, he began researching schools before choosing ABC. In Patrick’s experience, the ABC curriculum prepared him to become a knowledgeable dog trainer. He says “ABC has a great detailed course in dog training that a lot of other schools do not have. I feel it’s important to study dog training techniques before doing any hands on training. If anyone is interested in becoming a dog trainer, I would hands down recommend ABC.”

Patrick is currently planning on conducting his own dog training classes to take place in his home. He wants to offer courses in basic obedience, problem solving, shelter dog training, and puppy classes. He says “my short term goal is to be known as a professional dog trainer in my area. My long term goal is to have a full time business at my home.” Patrick adds “By becoming a dog trainer, I feel I have opened up a huge door in my life. I see things from a whole different perspective now that I’m a trainer. I would love to help people become better pet owners just like I have.”


Christina Walle
ABC Certified Dog Trainer

Prior to becoming an ABC Certified Dog Trainer, Christina Walle worked as a manual laborer for a government agency. She says “It kept a roof over my head, but not a smile on my face. Life is too short not to be happy, so I decided to follow my heart, and make a change.”

Christina always had a love for dogs and dog training. Since she decided to follow a new career path, she began exploring schools that specialized in dog obedience. Once she found ABC, she knew it was the right school for her. She felt that the hands-on externship was an indispensable portion of the program for a future trainer. She was excited to embark on this dog-centric journey.

However, not long after Christina enrolled, her boxer, Deizel, passed away. Although she was devastated by the loss, Christina thought that the best way to honor her beloved companion was to rescue another dog in need of a forever home. That’s when she met Atlas, an abused and neglected boxer from Kentucky, and he “stole her heart.”

Once Christina adopted Atlas, her focus completely changed. She was now committed to training shelter dogs and knew ABC would help her achieve her goals. She comments, “My experience with ABC has been rewarding in so many ways. My program manager Azure Long is not only an awesome mentor, but has become a great friend. The knowledge I have gained is priceless, and the chance to pay it forward is the greatest reward of all.”

Christina has recently moved her life from Illinois to Kentucky to work as a “canine counselor” at Hilltop Haven Animal Rescue (the same rescue that saved her dog Atlas). She will specialize in dogs that have behavior problems due to neglect or mistreatment. Christina remarks “Dogs have always been my saving grace, and I would be honored to be able to return the favor.”


Cynthia Burdick
ABC Certified Dog Trainer

ABC Certified Dog Trainer, Cynthia Burdick, fell in love with dogs when she was gifted her first puppy at the age of 2. As a child, Cynthia always wanted to become a veterinarian. She spent much of her adolescence volunteering at animal shelters and working with aggressive dogs. She says, “I helped the ones [dogs] that were deemed aggressive and trained them to be fun loving dogs. I have always had a connection with them. I can just read them. I was and have always been drawn to the dogs that seemed the hardest to reach.” Cynthia’s friends and family recognized her talent and encouraged her to pursue a career as a dog trainer. However, Cynthia found it difficult to believe that she could be a dog obedience instructor and pursue it as a profession. During this time, she worked in the customer service industry. While she enjoyed helping people, she did not like sitting behind a desk all day long.

Cynthia’s life changed dramatically three years ago when she moved to Alabama. There, for the first time, she found a job working with animals as a veterinary technician. She kept reminiscing about the time she spent at the animal shelter and truly missed working one on one with dogs. The staff at the veterinary hospital persuaded Cynthia to take the next step in her career and enroll in a school that specializes in dog training. “I found Animal Behavior College and I loved what ABC had to offer. I liked the fact that we did the book work first and then proceeded to work with a mentor to practice what we learned. It was amazing to me- no one out there does this! Even though school could be overwhelming at times, I loved every minute of it,” she explains.

Cynthia especially enjoyed the externship portion of the program. She was able to put into practice the techniques she learned from her mentor and continues to rehabilitate aggressive dogs at the animal shelter. Currently, Cynthia holds one-on-one training classes, conducts a doggie day camp that focuses on basic training and runs a puppy and adult socializing class at the animal hospital. She has plans to continue learning about dog behavior to help her become a more successful trainer. Cynthia has an optimistic perspective about the future and says, “In the last few years, I have learned that you just have no idea what life is going to hand you, and you just make the most of it. Just keep going and keep your head up. I am happier now then I have ever been and feel lucky to have a job that I am passionate about.”


Donna Foy
ABC Certified Dog Trainer

Donna Foy is the owner and head trainer of Waggin’ Tails Obedience in Goldsboro, North Carolina. She has been training dogs for friends, family members, work acquaintances, and neighbors for over 20 years. She says, “I can’t ever remember a time in my life that we didn’t have at least one dog in the house.” Her earliest experience with dog training came at the age of 11 when her family bought a Boxer named Ben. Donna’s mother began training Ben at eight weeks old, both for obedience and the conformation ring, and she helped her with his training every day. She wasn’t aware that this first training experience was the beginning of a life long career.

Later in life, Donna was working as an Assistant Parks and Recreation Director when she was offered an opportunity to assist in a basic dog obedience class; it was taught by a Marine that specialized in training search and rescue dogs, police K-9’s, and drug dogs for the military. She worked closely with the instructor for over a year. When the instructor was transferred, Donna continued to teach the class on her own for another year. She shares that “working with her [the Marine trainer] is where I got my first understanding of the power of getting a dog to “want” to do something for you as opposed to forcing a dog into compliance. Her teaching methods were so positive and uplifting and made such an impact on me that I now can’t imagine training a dog any other way!”

Being a military family, Donna moved every couple years before settling in North Carolina where she had a thriving career in marketing and event management. Then everything changed. Donna explains, “My world was rocked to the core! My husband was killed in a bombing while in Pakistan, my mother unexpectedly died a few months later, and my oldest daughter recently spent nearly 6 months in the hospital surviving a coma. It was time to rethink my life!” Donna knew that it was time for her to rethink her life and find a new career. She always loved training dogs and with the encouragement of her family, decided to make a living doing what she was passionate about.

Before beginning the program, Donna first searched for other local dog trainers to discuss the profession with them. That’s when she found Erin Cooke of Cooke’s K-9 Training, a fellow ABC graduate and mentor trainer. Erin specializes in puppy kindergarten, basic obedience and private consultations for various behavioral issues. Over the next couple months, Erin took Donna “under her wing” and brought her to every class she offered and to several of her consultations. Donna comments, “aside from my family, Erin has been my biggest cheerleader and greatest source of support in beginning my new venture [as a dog trainer]. Her willingness to share her knowledge, giving her time, and help in getting me started by referring clients to me is of immeasurable value.”
Donna knew that even with Erin’s help, she would need to become certified if she wanted to be taken seriously by potential clients and seen as a professional dog trainer. “I began to see that Erin’s philosophy on training was nearly exactly like mine so I talked to her about where she got her training. Erin told me about ABC and how the ABC mentor program really got her started in her business,” she says. Although Donna researched many dog training programs, she kept coming back to ABC. The national recognition of the program along with the endorsement by Erin Cooke left Donna with no doubt that this was the right program for her.

As soon as Donna enrolled in the ABC Dog Obedience Program, she started making plans to open her own dog training business. She comments, “Although I have been training for a long time, there is so much I have learned during the exam phase of the ABC program. Coming from a marketing background, I was very interested to read some of the ideas presented by Mr. Applebaum in stage 9. I have actually put one of those ideas into practice with great success.” Waggin’ Tails Obedience was born in August 2011. Donna conducts a “puppy camp” where dogs stay with her for two weeks or more for basic obedience training, housebreaking and socialization while at the same time working with the owners to understand the philosophy behind positive reinforcement training. She also offers advanced obedience training through rally classes and private lessons. Additionally, Donna donates her time to a local no-kill shelter teaching the dogs some basic training and runs an “Ask the Trainer” booth during adoption events at a local pet store.

Donna is currently in the externship portion of the program and expects to graduate in October. She says “I am excited about earning my certification and will proudly state to everyone that I am an ABC graduate. There are so many other things I have planned for the future and with the help of my mentor, Erin Cooke and the entire staff at ABC I know I don’t have to do it all alone. I have a great team of people and experience behind me as I move forward!”


Erica Clemente
ABC Certified Dog Trainer

Erica Clemente, ABCDT, has been an animal lover her entire life. Erica has always been one to rescue wild animals and to date she has rescued many baby birds, squirrels, and rabbits as well as domestic animals. As a child she remembers being fascinated by animal encyclopedias which eventually evolved into her studying cat and dog anatomy in hopes of becoming a veterinarian someday.

She competed and won competitions in 4H for equestrian care and she was the go to person people used to watch their dogs while on vacation. During high school her family steered her away from animal careers in the mistaken belief she would be hard pressed to find viable work within the world of animal jobs. She went into the field of special education. She spent years volunteering and was awarded for her service to the special needs community.

While she enjoyed her work in that field, her heart was just not in it. She began working as an unofficial vet tech. Erica worked in all aspects of that position including assisting in surgery. Erica was young, inexperienced and the vet she worked with was a bit indifferent. However Erica still desperately desired to work with animals. She left veterinary science and entered grooming.

Erica worked in grooming for many years while pursuing a career in mental health and medical assisting. She remained somewhere in the careers related to medical and mental health while raising her 2 oldest children. She had the opportunity during those years to work at a summer camp with large animals, including horses, ponies, calves, goats, and sheep, as well as many small animals, while providing education to campers and staff.

As Erica’s life continued to change, she went through a divorce, remarried and had a 3rd child. Personal issues removed Erica’s husband from their lives as she struggled with caring for a sick mother, a new baby, and a teen going through her own difficulties. This led Erica to part time work at a department store just to pay the bills, still allowing her the flexibility she needed to care for her family. Erica’s mother passed on, her daughter grew up and at the end of all of this she was once again a single parent trying to figure out what path to take in life. During this time in her life Erica had decided that what she did to put food on her table did not need to bring her growth as a human being and she could derive satisfaction from other areas of her life. She spent 3 years at her current job trying to decide what she would be “when she grew up”. She wanted to finally have a career that provided her with a sense of doing something worthwhile and meaningful.

Erica’s aunt sent her the website link for Animal Behavior College and asked her if she thought this was a good direction to head in. Erica did all the research and soul searching she could do and knew this was the right thing for her family and herself. Erica states, “I am so grateful to ABC for the tools it has given me, as I began my business near the end of my training as the owner of Grey Hawk Dog Training LLC. The more dogs I have the joy to work with either in my business (or in my continued volunteering at the shelter I did my externship at) the more I know I am doing what I was born to do. The clients thus far are very happy as we train their dogs using methodology that they feel good about and are successful at. The dogs are amazing and responsive. I finally feel complete in my life, both personally and professionally.“


Kristin Crestejo
Business Owner and ABC Certified Dog Trainer

I’m one of those “crazy dog people”, I have loved dogs my entire life. When I was 12 years old I volunteered at the S.P.C.A on Vancouver Island walking dogs with my mom and a friend. Some days when we went back the same dogs weren’t there, something that saddened me greatly. I constantly complained to my parents about wanting to take the dogs home with me, and of course being responsible parents, they weren’t going to allow me to have 5 or more dogs when we already had one to take care of.

Once I got to the age where I was about to graduate from high school, I worked in restaurants, spa’s, as a dog walker and as a self representing artist all while still training dogs on the side. When I was 24 years old I had just brought home my new Border Collie puppy when I got news that I had just been laid off my full time job, surprisingly I was happy (I hated my job) and I decided at that moment that I was sick of doing a job that I don’t enjoy. To figure out what would be the best course of action to take, I started jotting down things that I wanted out of a job; helping, flexibility of my own hours, etc. My friend who is a Behavior Interventionist told me about Animal Behavior College. She had been looking to incorporate dogs into her therapy with children for some time and this school allowed the flexibility to go at your own pace. I was so excited that I jumped on the internet right away and looked up their website. I loved the fact that I knew people that had taken their dog training course and that it was affordable! The outlined curriculum was everything I was looking for, it provided a new insight on training techniques that I thought I knew about and how to solve behavior problems that I never heard of.

I finished the course within 8 months, and I currently own my own business “Modern Canine Training” in Surrey/Langley B.C. teaching group workshops, private obedience programs and behavioral therapy. This has become my full time job and is going strong with the help of the curriculum’s business portion. I volunteer with Langley Animal Protection Society (who I did my shelter portion with) where I train obedience to their stray/surrendered dogs so that their chance of being adopted is greater. I love what I do down to my soul. And my Border Collie Luna does too!

My business name is Modern Canine Training and my website is


Katherine High
Service Dog Trainer and ABC Certified Dog Trainer

I grew up in a wealthy suburb of Boston, the fifth of six kids. My father is a doctor and my mom a nurse. While growing up, I always wanted a dog but my mother did not want us to have one as she was too busy bringing us up while my father worked long hours and said we did not have time for a dog. So we had a lot of cats, rabbits, and turtles.

My grandmother had a cocker spaniel named Taffy when I was a young child and then when Taffy passed away she got Bo, another cocker spaniel. Whenever I was at my grandmothers house, I loved playing with the dogs and taking them for walks. I begged my mom for a dog but it was always the same answer, "When you grow up, you can have as many dogs as you want."

When I was a teenager, my brother brought home a beagle, german shepherd mix home that he had found abandoned on the streets of Boston. We only had Charlie for a week because he unfortunately was hit by a schoolbus but having a dog around made my mother realize that a dog was a great companion so we got a beagle/lab mix and named her Nikki. We all loved Nikki and she became a much loved and well respected member of our family.

When I moved out and got my own apartment, I was not allowed dogs so I did not get my own dog until I had been married for 20 years and had a very disabled child. One of James' disabilities is epilepsy and I looked into getting a dog that could help alert me when James had seizures and one I could train to be a wheelchair and balance dog. I found out that because James had multiple disabilities including blindness that the local service dog organization NEADS could not assist me in getting a multiple trained dog and if I got service dogs from NEADS, I would need to get several dogs to assist with James' needs.

I instead elected to get a chocolate lab as a puppy and train him to be my sons dog. Little did I know the work it took to train a multi-tasking service dog. We named our dog Clifford and on his own at 8 weeks old started alerting me of James' pending seizures. Then as Clifford got older, he would hold James up as he started to try to walk off his bed. It was about that time that I met a multi disabled man and his multi talented service dog Toby. Toby was a guide, balance, alert, memory loss, and search and rescue dog all in one. It was when I met this man and his dog Toby that my life changed and my desire to train service dogs became a reality.

This man was a client of the state of Massachusetts brain injury program and he needed help in his day to day activities as well with the care and maintenance of his service dog. I began to work for the state and for this man and began to work with Toby. When Toby's arthritis started wreaking havoc, my client decided that he could be my son's dog and he would get another dog to train. It was at that point, I began to train Zody, a border collie/German shepherd and Toby became my son's dog working along with Clifford.

For three years, we diligently trained Zody who not only can do the tasks that Toby did but also can take the requested amount of money from my clients wallet, help my client get dressed, bring his laundry to the washing machine and take the laundry from the dryer. It was while working with Zody that I decided I wanted to train service dogs for people like my client and my son who need a specialized dog for many specialized tasks.

I began looking into dog training schools and chose ABC because of the extensive curriculum as well as the hands on learning externship (which I loved because it was so satisfying helping people train their dogs and even more gratifying working at the shelters and realizing that I had a hand in training shelter dogs and helping them become more adoptable). The program was extremely beneficial and educational for me and once I graduated, I was put on the states list for dog trainers in case someone needs a service dog like Toby or Zody. I want to continue to train service dogs who can do multiple tasks so disabled people don't need to get more than one dog to assist them with tasks they cannot do.

Also in my work with my client and the service dogs I have been training, I fostered a blind dog and actually trained him to do guide dog work because he was part hound and he was able to guide and find people, places and things with his nose. Mr. Bump is now working as a certified therapy dog visiting people in nursing homes. I learned that if you trust and respect a dog and give it a job to do, it will love and respect you back by doing amazing things. Ever seen a blind dog rock climb and retrieve a lost backpack? Well Mr. Bump did!

I have now opened High's dog training for people with pets, dogs with disabilities and people with disabilities who need a service dog to perform one or many tasks. I am looking forward to incorporating what I learned at ABC along with my experience with my client and other trainers to have a successful business with happy and successful dog. I learned that a dog is more than a pet but a valued member of society.


Maryanne Fiedler
Director of Marketing and ABC Certified Dog Trainer

As a child, there were always pets in the house. Yes, I was one of those kids that talked mom into getting me a puppy with promises of “I’ll feed her and walk her, Mom, I promise!” Admittedly, I didn’t always keep my word, but I knew that the bonds I had with my cats and dogs were unlike any with my ‘human’ friends and family. Years would pass and I would be well into my career as a Director of Marketing before a Golden Retriever named Lucy would come into my life and I would decide that this passion for pets should be channeled into something that would give me the opportunity to positively impact dogs and their relationships with their people. A quick bit a research and it was clear that the Animal Behavior College would offer me a solid, great education to get me off of the right foot!

Through the ABC curriculum, work I do as a Behavior and Obedience volunteer at an SPCA near my home in Bucks County, PA, and working with the certified trainers at my vet’s office and a local doggie daycare/training facility, I have obtained priceless knowledge about working with dogs and puppies and the many intricacies of their relationships with their people. As an ABC Certified Dog Trainer, I am excited and passionate about helping owners develop their dogs into happy, well-balanced members of their family and continuing my work with local rescues to rehome shelter dogs.

Through my business, The Proper Pup, you can find information about individual training programs for you and your puppy or dog. You can find more information about me at my website ( or on The Proper Pup Facebook page (!/pages/Wrightstown-PA/The-Proper-Pup/185322334600). For information about group classes, please visit The Pet Campus ( where I work with additional certified trainers in group environments.


Ashley Simon
Stay at Home Mom and ABC Certified Dog Trainer

My name is Ashley Simon and I am now an ABC Certified Dog Trainer. After years of not knowing what to do with my dreams of working with animals, I finally found ABC. I originally wanted to become a veterinarian, then a vet tech. Once I realized that I wanted to help animals outside of the veterinary field, I decided to try training. Training helps dogs by keeping them in their “forever homes” or helping them find their “forever homes”. I, like many others, have had the unpleasant experience of having to surrender two of my dogs because I no longer knew how to help them. It was and still is a very hard decision to have to make.

Now that I have completed the ABC training and I have acquired an enormous amount of knowledge about dogs and the way they behave, I know that I will never face this hardship ever again. Through my training, I realized that many of the problems I was having with my dogs were the direct result of my reactions to their “normal dog behaviors”. The book knowledge I acquired was tremendous, however, that coupled with my internship just sealed my destiny. I’ve known since a very young age that I wanted to help animals and ABC has finally helped me to realize those dreams! I cannot express enough, my satisfaction with the training I received and how incredibly comfortable I feel doing this on my own. I knew the moment I walked into the home of my first client that this was my destiny.

My plans for the immediate future are to continue training privately in the homes of my clients. I’m in the process of creating a company name and I hope to eventually set-up my own training facility. My ultimate dream is to provide a rescue for the thousand of animals, especially pit bulls, that come into the shelter in Baltimore, where I volunteer and love every minute of it. I was terrified to enter this shelter for fear of what I might have to see every day. My fears were totally unfounded and I am so proud to have the opportunity of helping out at this shelter.


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