Kerry Hall, Certified Canine Training Specialist and Behavior Consultant
Looking back, I think it was all in the cards. I was born in the year of the dog, in Mount Vernon, NY. My very first word was the name of my family’s German Shepherd. To make a long story short, I was an animal obsessed child. I didn’t have another dog after my family’s German Shepherd died until I was in my early 20’s, while living on my own. I responded to an ad on Craigslist for an “Abused Chihuahua Puppy.” Apparently I was the only person who responded that didn’t ask to see a picture of what the dog looked like. The lady had rescued Charlie from kids in the street who were beating him. She felt comfortable enough with our email exchanges and short phone conversation to ask me to drive to Queens to adopt him. When my best friend and I arrived, out trotted an adult Chihuahua mix dog. He was white with tan patches and had the most nervous, unsure demeanor about him.
Well, from that moment forward I started doing everything for Charlie the wrong way. I coddled him when he was shaking. I gave him all kinds of freedom because I felt bad he was abused. I talked to him as if he understood me like a human being. I scolded him and pointed his face near his pee when he had accidents in the house. I didn’t crate train him. I just “expected” he would understand the rules of my world and eventually “get it.” Well, the only thing my expectations got me was a dog that wasn’t overcoming his nervousness and fear, just becoming more and more confused. So, I did what any well-meaning owner would do to help their dog; I got another one. Yes, Charlie seemed to perk up bit and follow Lucky’s confident lead in certain situations, but it only made our relationship feel more distant. Not only that, I now had a large bully breed mix dog that was pulling me down the street, completely destructive in the house and disobedient.
After many years of professional bartending, I was desperately seeking a way out from behind the bar. I yearned for a new, enjoyable career I could be proud of. After a lot of research I decided to just go for it and I looked into schools to become a professional dog trainer. I wanted the whole enchilada: a dog college, a real-deal school for dog trainers, where I could bring my dogs with me to help them. I found that in Triple Crown Academy, now Starmark Academy in Hutto, Texas just outside of Austin. This was the most comprehensive course I could find in dog training. TCA was a real trade school that taught students a plethora of methods, techniques, and training philosophies. I packed up Charlie and Lucky and hit the road for Texas. The first day of class was January 5th 2009, my birthday. There were students in my class from all over the world. It was the best experience of my life, enabling me to change my relationship with my dogs for the better. Lucky was perfectly obedient after school and no longer destructive. Charlie was so much more confident with the new obedience and structure he had learned. He even began to play out in public which he never did before!
After graduation, I got great experience working at The Ulster County SPCA in Kingston, NY, working as a kennel technician/trainer. I was dealing with fearful, reactive, and extremely human/dog aggressive dogs everyday. I was thrown to the wolves, so to speak. The time I spent at the shelter was the most critical part of any hands on experience I have gained in my career. This is where I learned my best defensive handling skills that are the core to staying safe while working with unstable dogs. I soon became the Head Trainer and facilitated evaluations, enrichment programs, and training programs for individual dogs, as well as playgroups for the general population of dogs in my care. I worked with dogs that were constantly trying to bite out of fear, stress, and frustration. Many dogs I worked with were also puppy mill dogs which were typically shut down or feral. Once we began to implement playgroups, we saw massive changes in behavior and were able to show staff and volunteers that some of the shelter’s long-term residents were indeed not dog aggressive, but just frustrated or reactive inside the kennel. There were tremendous breakthroughs with aggressive and fearful dogs through the use of playgroups. Learning these “street smarts” from the shelter is truly what has made me able to handle and problem solve the behavioral issues of some very difficult dogs throughout my career.
KERRY HIKING WITH HER BELOVED PERSONAL DOGS: MUDD, TOM AND RAIN IN VAIL, CO.
After the shelter, I moved onto working for dog daycare and boarding facilities. I took a job in New York for Westchester K-9. As Head Trainer, I had a wide range of responsibilities. I worked one-on-one with clients in private lessons, created individual programs for dogs in the Stay and Train program, trained 4-8 dogs a day, and taught staff safety training and defensive handling. I also worked with Pet Rescue New York, the local rescue we were affiliated with, assisting them with their more difficult dogs as an evaluator.
I’ve spent over 11 years enthralled in this industry, constantly gaining new insights and practical experience. I’ve enjoyed working for companies and rescues, but 2015 is the year I decided to become a lone wolf and start my own dog training and rehabilitation company. Flash Dog Training is a culmination of all of my diverse experience in the dog training world. I am combining all of my skill sets to give the dog owners Bend, Oregon the best dog training services possible.
Breanna Leonard, Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant
When Breanna was in her late teens, she got her first personal dog, Duchess. Because she wasn’t even 18 yet, no shelter would adopt a dog to her so she turned to Craigslist in hopes of finding herself the perfect companion. She saw an ad titled, “Bandog Puppies, Need Gone ASAP.” Bre responded to the ad and was on her way to meet the puppies within hours. When she walked into the house all the pups ran over to her except one. The smallest puppy of them all stayed back watching her cautiously from as far away as possible. When she approached the pup it yelped and peed itself. She handed the man the money he wanted, took the fearful puppy and off they went.
It took a while, but slowly Duch started to become less fearful of Breanna. This seemd like a great accomplishment, but fast forward a year and Bre was in way over her head. She now had a large dog that would not let strangers in the house, started attacking dogs at daycare and couldn’t be left home alone without destroying the house and disturbing the neighbors. Breanna started doing research and reached out to local trainers. After finding the right trainer for Duch she was inspired to learn more about dog training. She bought every book she could find on dog training and watched hundreds of hours of anything dog training related she could find on the internet.
In 2009 Breanna began attending Mount Ida college in Newton, MA for Canine Behavior. After graduation she was hired to teach basic group classes a few nights a week at a locally owned holistic pet store in the greater Boston area. From 2010 to 2018 she worked her way up through this same company. A small gig of teaching a few puppy kindergarten classes a week, had turned into a full time job where she was not only teaching all levels of pet obedience training, but was now teaching apprentices how to train dogs professionally.
Breanna has an extensive background in rescue work. She has worked closely with local shelters by evaluating their dogs, and fostering/training countless dogs in need. Breanna’s main area of expertise is bully breeds and behaviorally challenged dogs, but she also has a strong background in puppy raising and has spent years finding the most effective ways to raise the perfect family dog. She enjoys being able to work with all breeds and behavioral issues, and draws from her experience to tailor every training program to each individual dog and owner. Breanna is also a seasoned E collar trainer and has virtually dedicated her life to helping dogs and people in need. In the summer of 2018 Breanna joined he Flash Dog Training team and we couldn’t be happier to have her share her diverse experience with our clients
In 2016, Amanda started as a kennel technician/assistant trainer at a local dog boarding and training facility in New York. At the time, she was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, working towards her second degree. Shortly after graduating, her heart dog, Maya, came to her job as a foster. It was love at first sight, except Maya struggled with insecurity and fearfulness. Maya became Amanda’s first training project and the rest is history!
After moving to Denver in 2018, Amanda took at job at a local dog boarding and training facility as supervisor and trainer. Seeking to learn more about other training methods, Amanda started shadowing Flash Dog Training on her days off in the summer of 2018. Soon after, she joined the team as a part time Trainer and started full time in July 2019. She worked her way up from Trainer to a Head Trainer position at FDT Denver and has been an essential part of the company’s continued success. She has a certification in Canine Behavior & Training through the Animal Behavior Institute and continues her education with annual workshops and seminars.
When not working you can find Amanda with her two dogs Kari and Maya hiking in the mountains or at a local dock diving competition.
Katie’s first dog-related job in 2014 was at a small veterinary clinic in upstate New York where she was a Veterinary Assistant. After six months at this clinic she moved back to Westchester and found another Veterinary Assistant job at a clinic in Connecticut. At both clinics, Katie acquired the necessary skills to handle dogs in stressful situations, whether it be drawing blood or trimming nails. After working a year as a Veterinary Assistant, Katie decided she wanted to take a different route in working with dogs. Coincidentally, she saw an add in the local pet gazette at the clinic where she worked for a dog hiking company in CT. Katie decided she wanted to try the dog hiking business and in 2015 she was hired as a dog hiker for Active Dog LLC. This is where her interest in dog training and behavior started to blossom. After two years hiking dogs in CT, Katie wanted a change of scene. She decided to move west to Denver, CO. Fortunately, her boss in CT offered her the opportunity to start a franchise branch of Active Dog in Denver. From 2017 to 2019, Katie hiked large packs of dogs and built Active Dog Colorado into a successful business. In April of 2020 she moved to Oregon to pursue training dogs professionally with Flash.