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Meet Our Trainers

The AKC GoodDog!SM Helpline team is here to help you get the most out of your relationship with your canine companion. Our staff has decades of experience in training dogs and helping their owners foster and build a long-lasting bond. The AKC GoodDog!SM Helpline trainers are passionate about what they do, and committed to your success in every stage of training.

Penny LeighPenny L., CPDT-KA

  • AKC Canine Good Citizen® evaluator, an Animal Behavior College mentor, a former dog training committee chairman and board member of a local animal shelter and sanctuary. +

    Penny is the program manager of the GoodDog! Helpline. She began training her family’s dogs as a young child, and her love of dogs and working with them has been her primary passion in life. She began professionally training and competing in 1988. Penny is a certified trainer with Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers; professional member of Association for Professional Dog Trainers; mentor for Animal Behavior College; and an evaluator for AKC Canine Good Citizen and AKC Agility Course Test.

    Penny has earned the most advanced level titles on several breeds in Agility, Obedience, Rally, Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, and Flyball. In addition, she and her husband have bred some top conformation Flat-Coated Retrievers.

    ”Helping people improve their relationship with their dogs is the goal of the GoodDog! Helpline,” she said. ”People and dogs do not speak the same language so helping bridge that communication gap is a very satisfying part of serving our clients.”


Milena BMilena B. CTDI

  • Milena studied dog training at the Animal Behavior College (ABC) and graduated as a certified dog trainer. +

    A native of Venezuela, Milena is our resident bilingual trainer and is happy to assist our Spanish-speaking dog owners. About 19 years ago, Milena and her family moved to the United States where she started volunteering at an animal shelter. The experience inspired her to pursue a career to help dogs and their owners have a longer and more enriching relationship.

    Milena studied dog training at the Animal Behavior College (ABC) and graduated as a certified dog trainer. In addition, she is an ABC Certified Dog Groomer and has continued her education even further, earning certificates in Pet Massage and Training Shelter Dogs. She is also an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, a Trick Dog Instructor, a Stunt Dog Judge, and a Canine Conditioning Coach.

    ”The best part about training is watching the whole family get in to it. It’s great to spend that time together,” Milena said. ”My philosophy is to focus on the solution and not on the problem.”



Christie C. CPDT-KA CDE

  • Christie Is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer +

    Christie Is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed Certified Instructor (CPDT-KA), a Certified Dognition Evaluator (CDE), a Certified Therapy Dog Instructor and Evaluator, and a lead instructor for Teamworks Dog Training, LLC since 2006.
    In 2012, Christie served pre-launch as a training advisor and science team intern at the Dognition project, a groundbreaking look into canine learning and cognition.
    Christie specializes in therapy dog training, canine cognition, and the human-canine Bond. She has Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers and is active in several sports, including AKC Conformation, AKC Rally, AKC Trick Dog, AKC Hunt Tests and Canine Musical Freestyle.



Hilarie EHilarie E. 

  • Hilarie has been a dog owner for her entire life. +

    Dogs have always been a part of Hilarie’s life. As a teenager, her biggest hobby was training and showing her quarter horses in 4H events while her mother went to dog shows, but as an adult competing in conformation, obedience, and agility with her own standard Wirehaired Dachshunds and Wirehaired Pointing Griffons took over. She has titled dogs in conformation, obedience, agility, and rally is currently training and competing with her two Border Terriers.

    Hilarie’s professional career has been in graphic design and she has worked for several advertising firms and corporate in-house creative departments. She is also an artist who does canine portraits and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator.

    ”Positive training methods create happy dogs and build trusting relationships between them and their people. One of the best things about being a GoodDog Helpline Trainer is helping owners use fun and safe ways to help their dogs succeed at their most important jobs: being true members of their families.”



Erin M.

  • Erin has served as a veterinary technician, kennel technician, dog trainer and an animal control officer. +

    Erin has been involved with working with animals all her life and rode and showed horses at a young age as well as teaching tricks to the family’s dogs.

    As an adult, she has devoted her life to working with animals and has been employed as a veterinary technician, kennel technician, dog trainer, and groomer. Currently, Erin is an animal control officer, a position that has presented her with many opportunities for high-level training on dealing with reactive dogs and other issues commonly found in abandoned and stressed animals.

    She shares life with two Border Collies and a Flat Coated Retriever. She competes with her dogs in Flyball, Agility, Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, and Conformation and also enjoys taking her pack swimming and walking.



Kim M. Kim M.

  • Kim has degrees in mathematics, physiology, and was a biomechanical engineer. +

    Kim began training her family dog in formal obedience at a very young age and dogs and dog training have been her passion ever since. She works as a CGC & Therapy Dog evaluator at a local training school & enjoys assisting students with obedience, rally and agility. Kim has competed in agility, herding, obedience and rally with her border collies.

    ”I think my role as a dog trainer is actually more of a ‘communication facilitator’ between dogs and their families. Since every situation is unique, sometimes you have to use a little creativity to bridge that communication gap. Achieving the end goal of happy dogs with happy dog families never fails to make me smile.”



Shawn H.

  • Shawn is an AKC Canine Good Citizen® evaluator, and an instructor of multiple dog training courses at a training facility. +

    Shawn began working with dogs at the young age of 12. She later got the “training bug” while attending the longest-running group clicker training (positive reinforcement) school in the southeast U.S. Her degree in Psychology also dovetails with her passion of dog training.

    Shawn has titled her dogs in Flyball, Obedience, Rally, Dock Diving, Disc, Trick Dog, and Canine Good Citizen. She has also competed in agility, K9 biathlon, lure coursing and straight-line racing with her whippets. In addition, she is currently showing her whippet in conformation and has a registered therapy dog with Pet Partners. Shawn and her very first therapy dog won the Willow Award, awarded as the highest honor for therapy dogs through the American Whippet Club in 2007.

    As a dog groomer and animal portrait artist by profession, Shawn’s entire life has “gone to the dogs.” Although she enjoys training and competing, her most important goal is to have a dog that is a wonderful companion in daily life.



John K.

  • John is an AKC Canine Good Citizen® evaluator and conducts private lessons that range from puppy development through advanced obedience. +

    John has been active in the pet industry for over 30 years. His career began in marketing research for a major pet food company. Later he attended a school for professional dog trainers from which he graduated first in class from their master trainer program. He has also been the general manager of an upscale dog resort and veterinary clinic where he revamped the daycare program to make it a safer, more enriching experience.

    John titled his first dog, a Great Dane, in obedience in 1987 and continues to compete in obedience with his Belgian Malinois. In addition to obedience, he has competed in scent detection, dock diving, and Fast CAT.

    The greatest satisfaction John gets as a dog trainer is seeing humans connect with their dogs and their dogs responding happily and willingly.


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