The Association of Professional Dog Trainers


APDT Conference Speakers

We have a line up of speakers who are innovative, interesting, educational, and just plain fun! Click on their name for complete biographical information.

Interested in becoming a speaker?

Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, Ph.D., RD

Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, Ph.D., RD
Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, Ph.D., RD

Dr. Jennifer Adolphe graduated with her Ph.D. in companion animal nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan. She previously completed a Master's degree in human nutrition and is a registered dietitian with the College of Dietitians of British Columbia.

Dr. Adolphe is the recipient of over 20 awards and scholarships for her academic work. Her work in the pet food industry has focused on product development and ingredient procurement.

She is currently the Senior Nutritionist at Petcurean Pet Nutrition, a Canadian, family-owned company committed to offering superior quality pet foods. 

See Jennifer discuss the upcoming conference in the video below!

Dr. Melissa Bain, DVM, DACVB, M.S., DACAW

Dr. Melissa Bain
Dr. Melissa Bain

Dr. Melissa Bain, DVM, DACVB, M.S., DACAW is an Associate Professor of Clinical Animal Behavior, and is the Chief of Service of the Clinical Animal Behavior Service. She is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and the American College of Animal Welfare, She received her DVM from the University of Illinois in 1994. She then worked in a small animal exclusive veterinary practice in the Chicago suburbs for 1 1/2 years, as well as a mixed animal veterinary practice in rural Wisconsin for 2 1/2 years. Dr. Bain then entered the Clinical Veterinary Behavior Residency Program at UC Davis in 1998, and became board-certified in 2001. In 2007, she completed a Master's degree in Advanced Clinical Research from the UC Davis School of Medicine. Dr. Bain became board-certified by the American College of Animal Welfare in 2014.

She is a past-president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. She was selected as the 2016 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year, given by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Additionally she is the Director of Professional Student Clinical Education for the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Her responsibilities include student and resident education, clinical case management, and research. Her areas of research focus have been clinical domestic animal behavior problems and human-animal bond issues, including research on dog-parks and the effects of different training methods on the behavior of dogs.

See Melissa discuss the upcoming conference in the video below!

Wesley Bissett, DVM, Ph.D.

Wesley Bissett, DVM, PhD
Wesley Bissett, DVM, Ph.D.

Wesley Bissett is an Associate Professor and Director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team. He received his DVM from Texas A&M University in 1997. After three years in a private practice that he owned, developed, and operated, Dr. Bissett returned to Texas A&M as a member of the faculty and completed a PhD in microbiology with a focus in Environmental Epidemiology while also being actively involved with clinical and teaching activities in the food animal section of the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department. Following the experiences of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the campus and region, he became focused on disaster preparedness and response and a leader in the College's new initiatives to respond to animal issues during emergencies and disasters. In 2009, Hurricane Ike impacted Texas and initiated the formation of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team at the request of the Texas Animal Health Commission and Division of Emergency Management. Dr. Bissett has been the Director of the Veterinary Emergency Team since its inception and has presided over the development of a 42 person team with assets valued at approximately 2 million dollars. In addition, he has led the development of the Nation's first required clinical rotation in emergency preparedness and response.

Veronica Boutelle, MA Ed., CTC

Veronica Boutelle, MA Ed., CTC
Veronica Boutelle, MA Ed., CTC

Veronica Boutelle, MA Ed., CTC, author How To Run a Dog Business, co-author Minding Your Dog Business

The forces behind dog*tec, the industry's leading business consultancy, Veronica and Gina have been helping dog trainers succeed in business since 2003. Regular APDT contributors, and sought-after speakers nationally and abroad, their experience and expertise are unrivaled, and their energy and innovation always inspirational.

Andrea Bratt, B.S., CPDT-KSA

Andrea Bratt, CPDT KSA
Andrea Bratt, B.S., CPDT KSA

Andrea was inspired to begin her animal training career after watching her rabbit, Filbert, repeatedly jump out of his 36 inch ex-pen and hop through the cat door to stand next to the refrigerator. She decided to put his jumping talent to work and teach Filbert to jump hurdle courses. After trying some coercive training methods, which were not successful, she began using clicker training to teach rabbits and has never looked back.

Andrea has volunteered with the non-profit group, Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter (BUNS), for over 20 years. BUNS cares for and adopts out 100-150 rabbits per year in Santa Barbara CA. Andrea appeared on Animal Planet's show "Pet Star" with her hurdle jumping rescue rabbit, Mattie, in 2003. After attending Clicker-expo and several other dog training seminars trying to learn about operant conditioning with rabbits, Andrea decided to try dog training too. She is a CPDT-KSA, a member of IAABC and owns and operates K9sBehave. Andrea teaches classes for adopted dogs, obedience classes, therapy dog classes, trick training classes, puppy training classes, and rabbit training classes as well as providing private training for dogs and rabbits. Andrea has taught rabbit clicker training courses for The House Rabbit Society and Best Friends Animal Society . Andrea serves on the board of directors of All for Animals, a non-profit group that provides therapy dog teams to libraries and schools through their "read to a dog" program ARF!, Animals + Reading = Fun! She enjoys volunteering with her therapy dog Oli and her therapy rabbit Axel. Andrea is the Behavior and Enrichment Coordinator for Santa Barbara County Animal Services where she works with dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs at three county animal shelters.

Andrea lives in the mountains above Santa Barbara with her boyfriend Paul and their 3 nubian goats, (clicker trained of course.)

Susan Briggs, CPA

Susan Briggs
Susan Briggs, CPA

Susan Briggs owns Crystal Canine, a consulting and training resource for the pet care industry and co-founded Urban Tails, a multi-service pet care center in Houston, Texas.  With over 12 years experience operating a large dog daycare, boarding, grooming and training center, Susan is a recognized leader in pet care services.
In 2007 she co-wrote Off-Leash Dog Play: A Complete Guide to Safety & Fun with Robin Bennett that led to the development of Knowing Dogs, a staff training program on dog language and safe off-leash playgroups.  Their joint venture, The Dog Gurus, is an online membership site providing "your best resource for off-leash play".

In 2009, Susan drew on her educational background in accounting and published her second book, Counting Noses, a financial management guide customized to the pet industry.  Susan is a frequent speaker giving seminars on financial management, staff management, dog management and getting started in the pet industry.

Susan has been an active volunteer with pet industry trade associations sharing her passion for an overall better understanding of safe dog play.  Her goal with Crystal Canine is to help owners love their business as much as the pets in their care. 

In 2015, Susan and Charlotte Biggs founded the non-profit, Professional Animal Care Certification Council. The council's mission is to bring independent testing and certification to pet care providers offering pet boarding, dog daycare, pet sitting or dog walking services. The program will recognize excellent providers and assist consumers in finding quality care for their animals.

The pet care industry is her new passion, but her professional career began as an auditor for Ernst & Young. Susan has a Masters of Accountancy from Truman University in her home state of Missouri and passed the CPA exam in 1984.  She has converted to a Texan and lives in Houston with partner Bill Kamps and her dogs, Sheppy and Archie.
Facebook: CrystalCanineLLC
Twitter: @Crystal_Canine
LinkedIn: susan-briggs-a18b408

Sara Carson

Sara Carson
Sara Carson

Professional trick dog training is a rapidly growing part of the pet industry. Sara Carson and her side-kick, Hero, will share their positive training skills and techniques when she delivers the keynote address at the Association of Professional Dog Trainers' 23rd Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

Carson has been training dogs for well over a decade. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, she successfully ran her own dog training business for over five years. During that time period, she taught dog trick classes, obedience, puppy foundation, and agility.  Currently, she is traveling North America and spending her days performing with a popular stunt dog team. 

Carson is considered one of the top trick dog instructors in the world and is certified through "Do More With Your Dog!"  She has taught numerous free online trick classes via social media for the past few years. She has earned several agility titles and also enjoys competing in Dock Diving, Frisbee, and Canine Freestyle. 

Known for her appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Carson and Hero have captivated audiences all over the world. They have also been seen together on The Marilyn Dennis Show, CTV news, Rogers Daytime Toronto, and multiple live shows such as The Canadian Pet Expo, Purina National Dog Show, and the All About Pets Show. Carson skillfully trained Hero to take part in several commercials for Petco, the Family Channel, and the Pet Network, among others.

In early 2016, Carson rescued an eight month old border collie named Marvel.  She is currently being trained as Hero's sidekick and will be performing with them in many future appearances.

To learn more about Carson, Hero and Marvel, please visit

Claudia Fugazza, Ph.D.

Claudia Fugazza
Claudia Fugazza, Ph.D.

I am currently working as a researcher in the MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology research group at the Department of Ethology in Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest).

I obtained my Ph.D. in Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest) conducting research on social learning and imitation in dogs with Prof. A. Miklosi.

I received my B.Sc. on Dog Breeding and Education (TACREC), a Master in Ethology of Companion Animals and a Master in Dog Training at the University of Pisa (Italy). 

I developed a training method called Do as I Do (named after Hayes & Hayes 1952 and Topál et al. 2006) which relies on dog's social cognitive skills and am using this method both for applied dog training purposes and as paradigm to study dogs' cognitive abilities.

Although my main interest has always been the study of canids' behavior, before devoting myself to research, I received a M.Sc. in law at the University of Insubria (Como, Italy) and worked as a lawyer.

Ericka Harney, CAE, CFRE, GPC, CVA

Ericka Harney, CAE, CFRE, GPC, CVA
Ericka Harney, CAE, CFRE, GPC, CVA

Ericka Harney, CAE, CFRE, GPC, CVA is the Executive Director of the Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance (AFWA) and The Foundation of AFWA. Born with an entrepreneurial drive and passion for service, Ericka has over 15 years of professional experience in the nonprofit and business sectors.

A business owner since sixth grade, she quickly grew her career in fundraising, grants, and nonprofit management. Ericka is responsible for raising $14 million in funds, serving as a federal grant review chair, providing consulting services to nonprofits, co-founding a social enterprise catering company, and teaching communication and fundraising at the university level.

To gain a broad foundation to build on, she pursued higher education in marketing and communication, earning a masters and bachelors in Communication, a bachelors in marketing and is a Ph.D. Candidate in Organizational Leadership concentrating on Nonprofit Leadership from Eastern University in St. David's, PA. She currently serves on the board of directors for Girl Scouts of Kentucky's Wilderness Road Council, Professional Women's Forum and God's Closet, Inc.

Debby Kay, CDT

Debby Kay
Debby Kay, CDT

Debby Kay has been a pioneer in scent detection work for over 40 years. She worked with the first search and rescue groups where the idea of using dogs to detect cadavers underwater to the training protocols was introduced. She has worked with many scientists to develop dogs to assist in locating biological specimens in the field for research projects; she trained the first toxic waste detection dog, and produced the first proof of concept accelerant detection dog.  She has taught detector dog handler teams and instructors from all over the world including developing the Federal ATF's explosive detection program.  Debby teaches Super Sniffer™ workshops for amateur dog owners and professional trainers alike.  She has set up several non profit organizations worldwide for Diabetes Alert Dogs and her Sweet Snoopers™ program is now in 22 countries around the world helping people manage this disease better through the use of trained alert dogs.

In competition, dogs from Debby's Chilbrook bloodlines, established in 1969, have earned hundreds of titles and awards, including all breed Best in Show, Best in Specialty Show, and Highest Scoring Dog in Trial in obedience. Her current stud dog made history by being the first Labrador to become a Triple Champion. Her breeding stock is highly sought after by Service Dog schools and has an unequaled record for success. She is an internationally recognized author and lecturer, an all breed conformation judge and has judged in China also.

Debby is a founding officer and lifetime member of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac, and a member of the Labrador Retriever Club Inc.  She is a professional member of the Dog Writers Association of America, The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and the International Association of Canine Professionals.

Trish McMillan Loehr, MSc, CPDT-KA, CDBC

Trish McMillan Loehr
Trish McMillan Loehr, MSc, CPDT-KA, CDBC

Trish McMillan Loehr is certified dog behavior counselor and a certified professional dog trainer who holds a Master's degree in Animal Behavior from the University of Exeter in England. She is also co-chair of the International Association of Animal Behavior Counselors' shelter division. She trained and showed horses for more than a decade in a variety of disciplines before being lured into the dog training world through work with shelter dogs.

Starting as a shelter volunteer in Canada in the mid-90's, Trish has been involved in a variety of shelter roles: as a dog walker, volunteer manager, and foster home coordinator. She was a behavior volunteer at the San Francisco SPCA, and also helped train volunteers and dogs at one of the first Open Paw shelters.

Trish managed dog daycares for a number of years in California, while teaching obedience classes and doing private training and behavior consulting work, and as always, volunteering with and fostering shelter dogs.

After grad school, Trish worked for more than three years as the director of animal behavior at the ASPCA's New York City shelter, rehabilitating dogs from cruelty cases, training staff and volunteers, as well as making a couple of appearances on the reality show Animal Precinct.

A move to Illinois to work for the ASPCA's Anti-Cruelty Behavior team brought the opportunity to assess and work with a fascinating assortment of behavior in animals from cruelty, hoarding and dogfighting cases, as well as in pets rescued from natural disasters.

In addition to writing for the ASPCA's Virtual Pet Behaviorist and other publications, Trish helped create and present several very popular webinars on dog and cat behavior and handling for the ASPCA Pro website.

Since 2013, Trish has owned Loehr Animal Behavior, and currently does training and behavior consulting work with dogs, cats, and horses. She continues to do volunteer, foster, and consulting work with animal shelters, and has spoken and consulted nationally and internationally on animal behavior and sheltering topics.

Heidi Meinzer, JD, CPDT-KA, CNWI

Heidi Meinzer, JD, CPDT-KA, CNWI
Heidi Meinzer, JD, CPDT-KA,

Heidi Meinzer is an attorney with substantial experience in both litigation and business matters, making her equally comfortable in the courtroom or in the office handling your business needs. In 2013, Heidi set up the Law Office of Heidi Meinzer, PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia so that she could focus her practice on animal law and the pet care industry. Heidi's clients include successful dog trainer, dog walking, pet sitting and dog daycare companies, and individuals faced with dangerous dog allegations or other animal law issues. Heidi is licensed to practice law in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Washington State.

Heidi devotes countless hours to animal welfare and state and local legislative efforts as a board member with the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. Heidi is also a trainer with Fur-Get Me Not and Canine Copilots, with CPDT-KSA and CNWI certification. She is a member of both the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the National Association of Canine Scent Work.

Laura Nativo

Laura Nativo
Laura Nativo

Laura Nativo is a dog trainer, pet lifestyle expert, celebrity dog mom, and a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. As a television personality and influential speaker for petcentric causes, she's harnessed her multiple skills and put them all to work on behalf of the human-animal bond. Laura is currently the resident pet expert "family member" co-host of the Emmy-nominated lifestyle show, Home & Family, on Hallmark Channel. Laura has dedicated her life to dog training, wellness, happiness and furthering the human animal bond.

Paula Nowak, CPDT-KA, CTDI

Paula Nowak
Paula Nowak, CPDT-KA, CTDI

Paula Nowak began her dog training passion six years ago by taking her own dogs through various group classes at Canine Country Academy. While she was enjoying teaching her own dogs she was also training sales professionals in the corporate world.  She soon realized that training people with dogs brought her much more joy!  She started learning all she could about dog behavior and training through books, seminars, conferences and apprenticing with Cathy Bruce. Paula now works full-time on her goal of injecting fun into all aspects of dog training to help dogs and their owners live together happily.

She has earned her AKC Novice Rally title with one of her dogs, Curly.  When her schedule allows she continues to compete with Curly in Rally trials to sharpen their skills in the ring.  She has also achieved a NW2 title with her dog Molly and looks forward to their second attempt at their NW2 title.  Two of her dogs have Trick Dog titles through Kyra Sundance's  Trick Dog program ( – Curly, Advanced level and Franky, Novice level.

During her training at Canine Country Academy she fell in love with teaching not only her own dogs, but the ability to help other dog/human relationships develop the close bond she experienced through training.  Her love of animals dates back to early childhood and continues to grow with each new experience.  Paula teaches Puppy 101, Rally, Tricks, Scent Work (all levels), Reactive, Shy Dog, Foundation Agility (Level 1), Canine Life and Social Skills and AKC Canine Good Citizen.  She also consults in-home for behavior and training needs.  Over the last nine years, she has also been involved in rehabilitating Rat Terriers through rescue organizations.  She currently volunteers with New Rattitude Rat Terrier Rescue & Adoptions (  Paula is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a Canine Life and Social Skills Evaluator, AKC Star Puppy and Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and  Certified Trick Dog Instructor through Kyra Sundance's program.  She is also a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.  While educating others is her passion she also takes every opportunity to learn from some of the best educators by attending seminars, conferences and reading their books.  In 2016, she has attended C.A.R.A.T (Clothier Animal Response Assessment Tool) training from Suzanne Clothier.

David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA

David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA
David Pearsall, CIC,

David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA, is a licensed insurance agent and co-owner of Business Insurers of the Carolinas, an insurance agency specializing in business insurance for pet related services since 1992. David and his team have managed insurance programs for many national pet services associations, including the APDT Insurance Program since 2001. A licensed agent in all 50 states, he holds both the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and the Certified Workers Compensation Advisor (CWCA) designations.

Gina Phairas, BSc Comms, CTC

Gina Phairas, BSc Comms, CTC
Gina Phairas, BSc Comms, CTC

Gina is a former San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers instructor and a trainer with extensive experience in the dog service industry. A dynamic speaker and gifted teacher, Gina helps dog pros break their goals down and achieve them step by step, offering invaluable guidance, humor, and support along the way.

Gina previously ran a successful dog training business of her own and consulted for shelters and rescue groups across the country.




Josh Pitts

Josh Pitts
Josh Pitts

Josh Pitts is a certified professional dog trainer with over nine years of experience in the pet industry. Josh is also the founder of Clicker Plus, a company that designs and manufacturers humane pet training tools. Josh is a dog trainer with a passion for creating innovation and social change in the pet industry.

Josh invented the new Clicker Ring pet training tool and has a wealth of information to share about shaping the future of animal training.



John Rogerson, KCAI, (ADV. WT., ADV BEH)

John Rogerson
John Rogerson

John is the author of eight books, Your Dog, it's Development, Behaviour and Training; Understanding Your Dog; Training Your Dog, Training Your Best Friend; Be Your Dogs Best Friend; The Instructors Manual; In Tune with Your Dog and the most recent best selling book; The Dog Vinci Code.

John lectures all around the world including China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Dubai, India, America, Mexico, Cuba, and many European countries.  He is equally at home lecturing at universities and almost every organization connected with dog training and behavior.  He is an advisor to many animal charities worldwide and also involved in canine education working with government agencies.  John has competed with his dogs at the very highest level in the UK over a 35 years and has also judged at the highest level of competition. 

He was awarded the Advanced Kennel Club Accreditation in Dog Training and Behavior at a ceremony at the Kennel Club in London five years ago, thereby earning the KCAI after his name and is one of only six trainers around the world who has the advanced canine behavior accreditation endorsed by the national certification body in the UK, City and Guilds.

He is  a founder member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, the founder of Support Dogs and Dog Aid which are both registered charities which train dogs owned by people with physical disabilities. He is a founder member of the Kennel Club accreditation scheme for dog trainers and behaviorists and also a former committee member of the UK government advisory body, the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC)

Justine Schuurmans, CPDT-KA and Leah Hatley, CPDT-KA

Justine Schuurmans, CPDT-KA and Leah Hatley, CPDT-KA
Justine Schuurmans, CPDT-KA
Leah Hatley, CPDT-KA

Owners of The Family Dog and CPDT-KAs, Leah and Justine, are multi-tasking mommas on a mission to change the way families see their dogs. 

They traded careers in sales and live TV production 14 years ago and followed their hearts straight to dog training. After having children of their own they realized just how much more support families with young kids and a dog REALLY need - so they started The Family Dog and have since worked EXCLUSIVELY with families. They've developed the most creative, effective and truly family-friendly training techniques and launched a one-of-a-kind online training program for parents, kids and dogs everywhere.

In May of 2015 they also released "STOP THE 77" their dog bite prevention campaign aimed at keeping kids safe around the dogs they know and love. Trainers worldwide are now using their fun video-based elementary and preschool dog safety presentations to teach kids how to truly understand and respect dogs.

Michael Shikashio, CDBC

Michael Shikashio, CDBC
Michael Shikashio, CDBC

Michael Shikashio, CDBC, is the president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), and provides private consultations working with dog aggression cases through his business Complete Canines LLC. Michael is fully certified through the IAABC, is a full member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), and is a mentor trainer for Animal Behavior College. Michael also offers mentoring and training to other professionals.

Michael is sought after for his expert opinion by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, New York Post, Baltimore Sun, WebMD, Women’s Health Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, The Chronicle of the Dog, and Steve Dale’s Pet World.

He is a featured speaker on the topic of canine aggression at conferences and seminars across the country, and he currently teaches courses through The Dog Trainers Connection and the IAABC.

Michael resides in Mystic, Conn., and enjoys coastal life with his wife, two boys, and three dogs.

Sue Sternberg

Sue Sternberg
Sue Sternberg

Sue has over 35 years of dog behavior experience, including as a dog control officer, kennel and animal care technician at various shelters, dog trainer, behavior counselor, instructor, temperament evaluator, boarding kennel owner, veterinary assistant, is a successful competitor in a variety of dog sports, and a teacher of dog trainers. In 1993 she started her own shelter in upstate New York and has created national shelter programs to improve the lives of shelter dogs.

Sue has two main goals in life: to make the shelter dog world a better place and to make public dog parks safer and more fun for dogs who must use them. To do this, Sue travels and educates people on canine communication, body language and behavior.

She is the author of Successful Dog Adoption (Howell Book House) and numerous other books--most recently How Old is This Dog? They can all be found at Sue has produced many DVDs on dog behavior and aggression, and also has an iPhone app, The Dog Park Assistant, which is a video repository of dog play and aggressive behaviors, to ensure that when dogs get together they are truly having fun and not going to hurt each other. Sue has two wonderful, adopted heeler mixes.

Sue is also an accomplished fiddle player, an amateur paleontologist, loves Earl Grey tea, and is a major Star Trek fan.

Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT-KA, KPACTP

Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT-KA
Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT-KA, KPACTP

Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT-KA, KPACTP, is an author, international speaker, and dog trainer who specializes in dog reactivity. She founded the online Animal Building Blocks Academy in Alaska and Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle, which has earned many awards, including Best of Western Washington. "Ahimsa" is a Buddhist doctrine of nonviolence to all living things, which reflects Grisha's focus on empowerment to promote the well being of dogs and their humans.

Her latest book, "Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0: New Practical Techniques for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression," was published by Dogwise in early 2016. Her popular second book, "The Official Ahimsa Dog Training Manual: A Practical, Force-Free Guide to Problem Solving & Manners," was published in 2012 and updated in 2014. Her popular BAT 2.0 DVD series about empowered socialization and training, was released in 2014.

Grisha has a master's degree in mathematics and graduate work in animal behavior. She is an enthusiastic and entertaining presenter who creates her seminars to accommodate a variety of learning styles.

See Grisha discuss the upcoming conference in the video below!


Victoria Stilwell, VS PDT

Victoria Stilwell
Victoria Stilwell, VS PDT

Victoria Stilwell, VS PDT is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the international hit TV series It's Me or the Dog.  Having filmed over 110 episodes since 2005, Stilwell is able to reach audiences in over 100 countries with her philosophy of positive training methods.

Stilwell is the CEO of Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training (VSPDT) – a global network of world-class positive reinforcement dog trainers. Since its launch in 2010, VSPDT has become the industry leader in the field of dog training by attracting world-class positive reinforcement dog trainers who share Victoria's dedication to providing the public a brand name they can trust in humane, force-free positive training. In 2015 Victoria opened the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior – the world's premier dog trainer educational institution, creating new generations of positive dog trainers and enhancing "The Future of Dog Training."

A regular guest on talk shows, news broadcasts and radio programs in the US, Europe and Asia, Stilwell has been the recipient of multiple international awards and honors. She is the resident pet expert on CNN's HLN and has been a regular columnist for several magazines including The Bark, American Dog, Dogster and Dogs Today. She has been featured in numerous journals, magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, USA Today, Cosmopolitan,, Oprah Magazine, Rachael Ray Everyday,, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, TheDaily Mail, the Sunday Times, and The Sun.

Her Positively Podcast series is available globally, and she serves the Executive Producer of various ongoing television projects in addition to her own popular informative dog training videos series, Teacher's Pet and Ask Victoria, the critically-acclaimed Arson Dogs series, various premium dog-related web video series and other content on the Positively Media Center platform.

Stilwell is committed to helping the cause of animal rescue and rehabilitation and is heavily involved organizations around the world to increase awareness of puppy mills, dogfighting, animal abuse, pet overpopulation, dog bite prevention and other animal-related causes. She is the Executive Director of the Victoria Stilwell Foundation - a non-profit charitable organization committed to providing financial assistance and dog training expertise to small rescue shelters and assistance dog organizations who practice positive training methods.

A co-founder of the national Dog Bite Prevention conference series, she also serves on the Advisory Boards for DogTV, Dognition, RedRover, and Canine Assistants.

See Victoria discuss the upcoming conference in the video below!

Kyra Sundance

Kyra Sundance
Kyra Sundance

Kyra Sundance is a world-acclaimed professional stunt dog show performer, having starred in shows for the king of Morocco, Disney's Underdog stage show, circuses, NBA halftime shows, on The Tonight Show, Ellen, Animal Planet, and in her own television series.

Kyra is an internationally best-selling author of 11 award-winning books (including "101 Dog Tricks") with a million copies in print in 25 languages. Kyra is a set trainer for movie dogs, and is nationally ranked in competitive dog sports.

Kyra is CEO of Do More With Your Dog! trick dog titling organization; national training director for Blue-9 pet products; and on the Dognition expert panel.


Laura Monaco Torelli, KPA-CTP, CDBC, CPDT-KA

Laura Monaco Torelli
Laura Monaco Torelli

Laura Monaco Torelli is the founder and director of training for Animal Behavior Training Concepts in Chicago, Illinois. She serves as faculty with the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior; is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, and Certified Parrot Behavior Consultant; and holds a TAGteach Level 2 Certification. She also collaborates with veterinary behaviorist John Ciribassi at Animal Behavior Partners and is a staff trainer with Dr. Ciribassi’s practice, Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants.

Laura began her professional animal training career in 1991, with the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. As a senior lead trainer, she trained beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals, river otters, and penguins. In 2000, Laura moved from marine to terrestrial animals, working for the San Diego Zoo as a lead keeper. She then moved back to the midwest to work for Brookfield Zoo as a supervisory lead keeper. Within the zoological community Laura has trained a wide variety of species, including primates, large cats, reticulated giraffes, birds of prey, horses, parrots, macaws, tree kangaroos, red pandas, and dogs. Laura's experiences have provided numerous opportunities to teach animals to cooperate in their daily care.

Laura's belief is that training should be fun, exciting, and educational for both people and their animal companions. Her unique professional background, which encompasses animal training, public and outreach programs, and educational seminars, allows her to create a dynamic and engaging environment for each client class. Laura's personal philosophy and unique skills keep her clients coming back for more training.

Laura has presented at ClickerExpo, the Chicago Veterinary Behavior Symposium, and the conferences of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance, the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association, the Interdisciplinary Forum for Applied Animal Behavior, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, TAGteach, and the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians.

She particularly enjoys sharing her experience with future veterinarians. She has spoken at multiple American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association symposia and given seminars for the behavior clubs at Ross University, Purdue University, and University of Illinois veterinary schools.

She is honored by the invitation to join the speaker lineup for the APDT 2016 Conference in Las Vegas.

Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton, JD

Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton
Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton, JD

DEBRA A. VEY VODA-HAMILTON, JD has 30 years of experience as a practicing litigator.  Her focus for the past  four years is as a mediator working to resolve disputes between people involving animals.  Debra is the principal at Hamilton Law and Mediation, PLLC (HLM), the first solo mediation practice dedicated to helping people resolve conflicts involving animals.

Ms. Vey Voda-Hamilton was an Assistant District Attorney in Westchester County, an Assistant Inspector General for the NYS-MTA Inspector General and in private practice.  She has extensive experience in animal, criminal and contract law having handled cases in numerous situations, including animal abuse, contract disputes, civil disagreements and family disputes about an animal. 

Ms. Vey Voda-Hamilton now exclusively mediates disputes between people over animals nationwide and internationally.  In 2011 she co-chaired a first of its kind program titled, It Doesn't Have To Be Dog Eat Dog - Introducing Mediation to the Animal Law Practitioner at St. John's University Law School. She has presented programs all over the country and internationally on how to resolve conflicts over animals more peacefully. She speaks at State Bar Association Animal Law committees' meetings, national veterinarian conferences and pet service and Entrepreneur Conferences.  She is a member of the ABA-TIPS-Animal Law Committee and the New York City Bar Association Animal Law Committee.  She is a frequent contributor to the TIPS newsletter, outlining the use of mediation in conflicts between people involving animals.  Debra is the go to person for information regarding the use of mediation in disagreements involving animals for the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Huffington Post and US News and World Report.

Debra sits on the board of directors for: The Center for Understanding in Law, Angel on a Leash, Fur-Bridge, The Irish Setter Club of America and Eastern Irish Setter Association.

HLM uses alternative dispute resolution to help resolve divorce disagreements over the family pet, neighbor arguments over a barking dog and assists animal rights and welfare advocates in sitting down with their adversaries for discussion before, during & after litigation is initiated.

Debra is the author of Nipped in the Bud, Not in the Butt: How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts over Animals and co-author of Onward and Upward: Guide For Getting Through New York Divorce & Family Law Issues.

In 2016 Debra released a monthly informative newsletter as well as a podcast titled MAAP.

Krista Wickens

Krista Wickens
Krista Wickens

As a dedicated lifestyle athlete, coach, author, speaker and fitness product inventor of several human and canine products, Krista Wickens has a unique understanding of product development and the mechanics of fitness for both the human and canine body. Krista has created bestselling products and programs used by the biggest names in human and canine fitness including iconic brands such as Reebok®, Gold's Gym®, NordicTrack®, FitPAWS®, Canine Gym®, and DogTread®. Her passion for better movement solutions transcended to the canine world in 2007 where she developed her first canine product, a dog-specific treadmill designed with canine behavior, anatomy and movement in mind.

 Krista is also author and producer of several canine educational programs including the first Treading for Dogs DVD and 30-day Step-by-Step Treadmill Program (2010), FitPAWS Master Trainer program (2015), and the Certified Canine Fitness Trainer (UT-CCFT) program (the first University certificate program for Canine Fitness, University of Tennessee 2015).

APDT Chronicle of the Dog

Chronicile of the Dog

The quarterly APDT Chronicle of the Dog keeps APDT members abreast of contemporary pet dog training techniques and provides a lively forum for discussion of dog training and behavior issues.

Annual Conference

Annual Educational Conference and Trade Show


Date: Oct. 18-21, 2017
Location: Richmond, VA.

Richmond Marriott.
Richmond, VA.

APDT Foundation

The corporation is organized for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

The purpose of the foundation is to raise funds for scientific research and of education  of dog trainers.

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