Staff Profile: Kristi Benson

Kristi Benson is a dog trainer living on a small farm in central Manitoba, Canada. An honors graduate of the program, she now works for the Academy for Dog Trainers as a student mentor and coach, directing special research projects and organizing the Academy’s Wednesday Webinar series.

Kristi’s dog addiction is firmly rooted in racing sled dogs. She has her own crew of sled dogs and for the last decade she has directed a micro-rescue, placing racing dogs in homes as pets. Through her dog-training business Kristi teaches adult dog and puppy classes in several nearby communities, works one-on-one with owners whose dogs are having behavioral issues, and consults for many local foster-based rescues. 

Her love of dogs (and her love of using humorous narrative as a pedagogical tool) was cemented during her time living and working in Canada's far north. Today, she continues to work as a research anthropologist, archaeologist, author, and cartographer with First Nations communities in Canada’s subarctic. 

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Staff Profile:Erik Tamm

Staff Profile:Erik Tamm

Erik Tamm graduated with honors from the Academy for Dog Trainers in early 2016 and joined the Academy staff a few weeks later. Erik's main responsibility in the Academy is caring for the technological infrastructure of our online community and coursework. 

Erik has a background as a software developer and became interested in dog training after moving to Hong Kong and volunteering to help the island's feral dogs.

Today, he divides his time between programming and dog training. Erik works with all kinds of cases but has taken a special liking to dogs with body handling issues.

Erik lives on a small island outside Hong Kong, Cheung Chau, with his wife and his two dogs, Charlie and James. During his time off he enjoys windsurfing and volunteer work to improve the lives of the feral dogs on the island.

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Staff Profile: Casey McGee

Staff Profile: Casey McGee

Casey McGee graduated from the Academy just this year, in February 2016. She still feels like a giddy newcomer on the dog training scene: blessed to have had the chance to learn from the best, filled with hope and passion for the future of a force-free dog training industry, and now thrilled to be a part of the amazing staff team at the Academy. 

Casey also studied with Malena DeMartini and is a proud 2015 graduate of her intensive training program—the only one of its kind to certify dog trainers to work with separation anxiety and isolation distress.

She and her partner lost an aggressive dog to euthanasia several years ago when, like so many of us, she followed the most readily-available advice for dealing with aggression and, in desperation, used coercive and intimidating training methods. At the time she didn't have access to a trainer who could help her first do no harm to her beloved pup. Today she wants to be that trainer for families struggling with the confusion and heartbreak of a serious behavior problem.  

Casey found her calling in force-free dog training after years of animal rescue volunteering and a career working with advocates, law enforcement and prosecution to reform the way that public institutions respond to domestic violence and sexual assault. She now owns and operates Upward Hound and lives on a retired dairy farm in western Wisconsin with her partner, three dogs and a flock of geriatric chickens.

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Staff Profile: Kelly Shutt

Staff Profile: Kelly Shutt

Kelly Shutt graduated from The Academy for Dog Trainers with honors in 2013. During her studies, she apprenticed under Gallivan Burwell (also an Academy grad) of Upward Dog Training and Counseling in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has also served as the Vice President of The Sula Foundation, an advocacy organization devoted to fostering responsible pit bull guardianship in New Orleans. 

More recently, Kelly served as the Behavior and Training Manager at The Louisiana SPCA (LA/SPCA), an open-admission shelter providing animal control and community outreach for the City of New Orleans. During her time at the LA/SPCA, Kelly created a Behavior and Training department, including a volunteer-led training program for shelter dogs. She also transformed the training culture from "mixed bag" to exclusively force-free. 

Kelly currently owns and operates Dogspeed Positive Training, where she specializes in resource guarding and dog-dog reactivity. Committed to providing the most efficient, user-friendly solutions to her clients’ dog training needs, Kelly passionately pursues ongoing professional development by attending multiple seminars per year and keeping abreast of all industry developments. Kelly recently moved to Akron, Ohio, where she lives with her fiancé, Kevin Duggan of All Dogs Go To Kevin and their three dogs Villere, Rosa, and V.

 

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Staff Profile: Sarah Pennington

Staff Profile: Sarah Pennington

Sarah Pennington graduated from The Academy for Dog Trainers in 2013. The entire Academy experience has helped her in ways she never expected. A member of Academy staff since 2014, Sarah coaches students on their mechanical training skills and mentors students with their assignment submissions. She especially enjoys watching new students develop professional-level training skills.

In addition, Sarah volunteers as a trainer at the BC SPCA in Vancouver.

Sarah is happiest when working with people to help them better understand and train their dogs using a blend of compassion and modern, evidence-based training methods.

Sarah works with all types of behavior cases in her business Yaletown Dog Training but has a soft spot for fearful dogs. She tries to bust myths and spread the message of humane training with simple messages on Yaletown's Facebook page.

   

Sarah’s nursing experience in an inner-city emergency department and in a police department, working with marginalized clients, has taught her the importance of empathy and non-judgment. She tries to incorporate these qualities into her work with dog training clients who are trying to do the best they can for their pets.

Sarah also works part-time in health care where she is the Project Manager for a variety of clinical trials in cardiac arrest and stroke.

Sarah hopes that one day all animals will be trained with compassion and that the use of fear, pain or coercion will no longer be considered acceptable. Dogs make people happy. Sarah’s goal is to teach people how to make their dogs happy too, especially when training them.

Sarah lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her partner and their two dogs.

                                        

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