Did you hear?!? My dog used to have separation anxiety! No really. It's true. Maybe I've mentioned that once or twice. :)
Though I have shared my home with a variety of animals since childhood, my journey to who I am today began with Emma the Beagle, who was too scared to be alone and equally afraid to leave the home. Helping her overcome her fears and turn her into the happy, bouncy beagle she is today, inspired me to do the same for dogs all over the world.
Through the years, my understanding and approach to helping dogs who struggle when they are alone or away from certain people has evolved. I've gone from a strict focus on fear and anxiety to a holistic approach that includes physical well-being, mental enrichment, and a variety of emotional states and motivations that could be the root cause of each dog's separation-related problems.
In addition to working with my private clients, I train dogs for the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C. and teach group classes for Your Dog's Friend. Being a former actor, I still love to get my performance fixes in, so I really enjoy teaching webinars to dog parents and professionals. Check out my other website, iSpeakDog, to learn more about why dogs behave certain ways and how to read their body language to understand different emotional states.
If I'm not at my computer training pups to snooze peacefully when alone, I'm most likely running, biking, swimming, knitting, or snuggling with a certain adorable beagle.
Jennifer Phillips, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, SA Pro Trainer
Let me cut to the chase: I love helping dogs overcome fears and behavior problems. Seriously. I love it.
After years working with exotic animals in zoos, wildlife habitation facilities, and wolf sanctuaries, I adopted two dogs with behavior problems. Richard and Howard turned my world upside down. Though there were some rough times in the beginning -- and I mean crying-on-the-floor-of-my-bathroom rough times -- those pups gave me a view into the hearts and minds of scared animals so that I could become the trainer I am today.
As owner of Separation Anxiety Specialists, my passion is incorporating the different aspects of my experiences and education into programs for my clients. My zoo background -- specifically in areas of behavioral enrichment and environmental design -- allows me to help dogs holistically. I'm always working to make each dog's life better, and, therefore, make their owners' lives better as well.
I still love sharing my life with animals of many species, so in addition to my pups, my family also includes one Green Aracari (small Toucan), two African Grey Parrots, and seven Poison Dart Frogs. When I'm not training dogs, continuing to learn about dogs, or watching slow-motion video of dogs to help find the tiniest clues to how they are feeling emotionally, I'm probably watching musical theater. I mean, I did name one of my businesses, Broadway Dog Training.
Joanna Meleiro, CTC, CPDT-KA, SA Pro Trainer
I found my calling while photographing adoptable dogs for local rescues in 2013. Intrigued by the challenge of helping the dogs feel comfortable for the camera, I started studying canine behavior and soon adopted Zoe Moo -- one of the dogs I had photographed. (See: My photo above and Jennifer's too!)
As dog behavior became more interesting to me than painting with light, I left the camera behind and applied to Jean Donaldson's prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers to explore a more formal path of education in dog training and client counseling. I graduated with honors in 2017, and my itch to learn about all-things dog still continues today.
Zoe kicked off my passion for helping transform fearful dogs into fun, sweet, confident, and playful little goofballs. Thanks to all the lessons from her (and later her siblings Violet and Blue) I am especially drawn to the "worried" dogs, with endless patience to help their people speak dog more fluently so they can communicate better and navigate the world confidently together. In fact, I created my company Dog Is Right specifically to help worried dogs and their stressed people.
So what does this have to do with separation anxiety training? EVERYTHING is what! Old-school thinking about separation-related behaviors is that these dogs are all scared. We know now that there is usually so much more going on. Frustration, boredom, health issues, and, of course, fear and anxiety can all play a role. Whatever the reason your dog is not able to relax while home alone, I will work with you to help your dog learn that nothing bad will happen when you walk out the door, so that they can peacefully snooze, and you can enjoy your time away from home without worry and stress.
I live in Vancouver, WA with my husband, three dogs, and a rotating crew of special fosters from Humane Society for Southwest Washington.