Meet the Trainer

Jennifer Courtner

My name is Jennifer, and I am a professional Vermont dog trainer.  I have been working professionally with dogs since 2006 when I began walking dogs at a local veterinary hospital and working part time at a grooming salon. I apprenticed under renowned service-dog trainer, Leslie Horton, and worked under her at Inova Fairfax Hospital’s Animal Assisted Care program in Northern Virginia.

After graduating from George Mason University with a degree in Psychology, I attended the National K-9 School for Dog trainers in Columbus, OH and became a certified professional trainer. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my two dogs, a boxer named Kyla, and a labrador retriever named Loki.

Certified Force Free Method Trainer
Pack 2 Basics Seminar by Chad Mackin
4 Day Workshop by Scott Mueller
International Association of Canine Professionals
National K-9 Dog Trainers Association

Why I Chose To Become A Dog Trainer

I got my first dog, a huge male boxer named Oscar, when I graduated from high school.  He was extremely hard to control and paid very little attention to me outside.  I tried many different contraptions to get him to stop pulling, with absolutely no success.  I went from a head halter to a no pull harness, only to be pulled down time and time again when he saw a dog on a walk or a squirrel that he wanted to chase.  One time he decided to take off after a car, and pulled me so hard that I had to let go of the leash and was worried I would never find him.  Such was life with Oscar for many long, long months.

When he turned 1-and-a-half years old, he started displaying aggression toward other dogs.  This escalated to a point where I could not take him anywhere; I couldn’t take him to the dog park, and he even barked and lunged at people if they showed any sign of being scared.  I was embarrassed, not to mention terrified that he would do damage to another dog.  Finally I enrolled him in an “all-positive” training class for “Feisty Fidos”.  All-positive training for Oscar entailed giving him treats to distract him from the other dogs in the class.  I would teach him to look at the other dog then look away.  Over the course of 6 weeks (with only one other dog in the class), I still wasn’t able to walk him past the other dog without him lunging.  The trainer told me not to exercise him the day before class because his adrenal glands would be more active, therefore he would have more aggression.  This did not seem to help, and I began to feel as if there was no hope.

Oscar inspired me to become a dog trainer. I was able to take a dog who was a major handful and communicate with him effectively, eventually turning him into a sweet and reliable companion.
After taking this training course I was upset and felt helpless.  One day, however, I began watching the television show The Dog Whisperer.  Suddenly I felt hope that one day my dog could be better.  I did more and more research on dog training, and with the help of a slip lead, I was eventually able to walk Oscar past dogs barking at the invisible fence and dogs walking on the other side of the road without him reacting.  This was incredible to me; before, I could not get him anywhere near other dogs without him lunging, barking and potentially attacking another dog.  I was even able to take him to the vet, where he could sit in a crowded lobby full of dogs without reacting.  I never trusted him to play with other dogs, but I was proud of the progress I made with him. During this time I went to dog training school and began my career, which has been the most fulfilling choice I’ve ever made.

Oscar died at age 6 of cancer.  In retrospect, I could not be more grateful for his behavioral difficulties, for it introduced me to this rewarding and timeless line of work.  I get to spend every day helping people understand man’s best friend, and I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.


We can’t wait to meet you and your dog!