We use effective, positive methods to train service animals and family pets
Sharon Wachsler, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP is the owner and head trainer of At Your Service Dog Training, LLC. Sharon is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP). She graduated with distinction from Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior and is a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). She was the founder of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival and a content editor for IAADP’s Partner’s Forum, the newsletter of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) in which her service dog training articles received special recognition.
At Your Service Dog Training, LLC, offers a range of dog training services to people in Western Mass., and the North Quabbin area. We offer private in-home pet dog training in the following areas:
- North Quabbin and eastern Franklin county: Wendell, Leverett, Shutesbury, Montague, Deerfield, Greenfield, Turners Falls, Sunderland, Orange, New Salem, Athol, Erving, Warwick, and other nearby towns
- Pioneer Valley: Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, Springfield, Hadley, Amherst, and other nearby towns
- We offer group classes in Orange/Athol and Wendell, MA
We also offer assistance dog training and consulting for individuals, as well as organizations and businesses, throughout New England and the Northeast.
Sharon trained her first assistance dog in 1998, a Bouvier des Flandres named Jersey who went on to win a Delta Society “Service Dog Without Limits” award. Between 2000 and 2013, Sharon trained two more mobility service dogs and wrote award-winning articles on positive reinforcement training and service dog training for publications such as IAADP’s Partner’s Forum and for her popular service dog blog, After Gadget.
After recovering her health in 2013, Sharon went on to work with some of the regions best trainers, assisting with group classes and apprenticing in private training and behavior consulting. In 2014, she graduated from Karen Pryor Academy’s “Dog Trainer Professional Course” with an average test score (knowledge, teaching, and training) of 99 percent, then passed the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers’s exam to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).
Human Communication & Instruction
Before becoming a dog trainer, Sharon was an information and referral specialist for people with disabilities (specializing in housing, education, employment, and personal care), and a writer and editor of a journal of disability literature and culture. She has deep ties and love for the disability community.
Because “dog training” is mostly about teaching people how to train their animal companions, Sharon is dedicated to an honest, respectful, supportive relationship with clients. As a long-time student of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and a more recent student of TAGteach, Sharon is able to bring a positive, clear, “clickerly” approach to how she works with owners, as well as dogs.
Sharon continues to advance her education and expertise in working with people and animals by learning from experts in the field at workshops, conferences, and by collaborating with other pet dog trainers, service dog trainers, and animal behavior consultants. Sharon lives with her Bouvier des Flandres, Barnum (career-changed from service dog to demo dog).
Learn more about Sharon’s education, media appearances, speaking engagements, and more below.
Geographical and Training Specifics
Sharon and her assistants and interns offer group classes in basic manners and obedience in Orange and Wendell, MA, and service dog group classes in Northampton, MA. Please see our group class page or contact us for specifics.
For private training in basic manners and obedience for pet dogs, Sharon travels within 30 minutes of Wendell, MA — including Wendell, New Salem, Orange, Athol, Greenfield, Northfield, Turners Falls, Montague, Leverett, Shutesbury, Erving, Petersham, Deerfield, South Deerfield, Warwick, Sunderland, north Amherst, and parts of Pelham, Belchertown, and Hadley.
At Your Service assistant trainer Alex Wise offers training in Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, Springfield, Amherst, Granby, South Hadley, and other surrounding areas.
For private service dog training, Sharon travels within one hour of Wendell, MA, including the Pioneer Valley (Northampton, Amherst, and surrounding towns), north to Greenfield/Brattleboro and surrounding area, and the North Quabbin area (Orange, Athol, etc.).
Wondering if At Your Service travels to your town or if we offer services for your particular training needs? Check out answers to our frequently asked questions in our FAQ: Is At Your Service Right for Me?
Alex Wise, Assistant Trainer
Alex has been a staff trainer at Animal Alliances since 2015 — teaching classes in everything from basic and intermediate manners, outdoor etiquette, tricks, nosework, and puppy kindergarten. Their special training interests include building strong foundational obedience skills for service dogs in training and working with deaf dogs. Alex lives in Northampton, with their deaf American Pit Bull Terrier mix, Hitch, who has been extensively trained in a variety of fancy skills but sees himself primarily as a professional lap dog and nap-taker.
Stephanie Shumway, Intern
Stephanie is a resident of Amherst, MA. Since a young age she knew she wanted to work with animals, especially canines. In the last year, she lost her beloved four legged child, named Cali, to Mast Cell Tumors at the age of 10. Through the heart break of losing such a loyal companion, she came to realize it was time for her to pursue her dream of becoming a dog trainer. Stephanie is a very outgoing, caring young woman with a great sense of humor. She is looking forward to meeting and working with every one (and their fur babies!) through At Your Service Dog Training with Sharon.
Brittany Miller, Intern
Brittany is a post-grad with over two years of professional experience working with dogs of all breeds and temperaments. She worked for a year at a Dog Daycare & Boarding facility before leaving to start her own pet care business while furthering her education in canine care and training. Brittany has two fur-babies, both very energetic Aussies. She has been learning from Sharon to train her youngest as a psychiatric service dog. After this internship, she will be applying to a PhD program in Canine Cognition. Her dream is to help those with psychiatric and physical disabilities learn to work with their service animals in the most productive and positive way possible.
Marlene Layman CPDT-KA, Trainer
Marlene studied the science of how dogs learn through Animal Behavior College, achieved certification, and became owner/operator of Walks and Wags Dog Training. Marlene is skilled in how to identify and manage problem behaviors, and how to use positive reinforcement training methods to help dogs choose correct behaviors. Marlene’s experience includes obedience training in group classes at Pack of Paws Dog Training, running a professional pet sitting and dog walking company, and safe animal handling as a volunteer at Dakin Humane Society. Before following her passion for working with dogs, Marlene was an executive at a Fortune 100 company, where she won the President’s Leadership Award — voted by her peers and associates — thanks to her skill in leading multiple organizations and effectively communicated with individuals at all levels.
Sharon Wachsler’s CV
- Karen Pryor Academy, webinar — Conditioned Cues: Setting Up a Novice Learner for Success, June 9, 2019.
- Pet Professional Guild, webinar — Service Dog Owner-Training: Is This the Path for You? December 3, 2018
- “Service Dog Owner-Training: Is it right for you?” Presented at numerous venues from 2016 to present including Dakin Humane Society (Springfield, MA), Animal Alliances (Northampton, MA), Greenfield Public Library (Greenfield, MA)
- E-training for dogs, webinar — “Working with Service Dog Owner-Trainers: It’s not about the dog” — working with clients to train their own service dogs, September 5, 2018
- Pet Professional Guild, webinar — “SD, SDiT, ESA, Alphabet Soup?! What you need to know about US service dog laws and terms” August 28, 2017
- Dakin Humane Society, Springfield, MA — “Service Dog Training: What you need to know,” June 18, 2016
- Greenfield Savings Bank, South Deerfield, MA — “Service Dogs: The what, why, and how,” March 5, 2016
- Dogs training in Western Mass. to be like Sully, Bush’s service dog — WWLP, Channel 22 News, January 5, 2018
- Service dog training event held in Northampton — WWLP, Channel 22 News, April 13, 2017
- Wendell dog trainer brings personal experience to group classes — Greenfield Recorder, September 12, 2016
- ‘At Your Service’ dog trainer recovers health, brings positive methods to obedience class — Athol Daily News, August 26, 2016
- Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP)
- Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
- Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), Professional Member
- International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), member since 1999
- International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), supporting member, Working Animal Division
- Doggone Safe, “Be a Tree” Licensed Presenter, 2015-2016
- TAGteach International, Primary Certification, 2015-2016
- Assistant Trainer, Pet Behavior Consulting, Shutesbury, MA, December 2014 – December 2015
- Assistant Trainer, Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society classes, Hadley and Leverett, MA, February 2014 – June 2015
- Intern, Pet Behavior Consulting, Shutesbury, MA, May 2014 – September 2015
- Information Specialist, New England INDEX (Information on Disabilities Exchange), Shriver Center, Waltham, MA, 1994 – 1995
- Information Specialist, Information Center for Individuals with Disabilities, Boston, MA, 1992 – 1995
- Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional, studying under Emma Parsons, January – July 2015
- BA in Sociology and Women’s studies, cum laude, 1992, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Dog Training Seminars, Workshops, Conferences
- Identifying Stress in Service Dogs: When to Say When with Jeanne Hampl RN and Barbara Handelman, M.Ed., LCMHC, CDBC – August 2018
- Click to Calm & Control Unleashed for Canine Confidence (two-day seminar by Emma Parsons on canine reactivity and improved performance around distractions) – July 2018
- Selecting and Training Service Dogs for Mental Health Disabilities with Cissy Stamm and Barbara Handelman, M.Ed., LCMHC, CDBC – Part 1 – June 2018, Part 2 – July 2018
- Selecting and Training Diabetes Alert Dogs with Jennifer Cattet PhD – May 2018
- Selecting and Training Guide Dogs for the Blind with Michele Pouliot – April 2018
- Selecting and Training Service Dogs for Children with Patty Dobbs Gross and Daniel Gross – February 2018
- Canine Intelligent Disobedience and Canine Cognition: Canine Cognition, Intentionality, and Theories of Mind with Barbara Handelman M.Ed., CDBC and Ken McCort – November 2017
- ClickerExpo, Stamford, CT – March, 2017
- Successful Cat and Dog Introductions – Step by Step with Jacqueline Munera CCBC, PCBC, CAP2 – June 2015
- ClickerExpo, Reno, NV – January 2016
- Brenda Aloff Two-Day Seminar, Dog Reactivity and Competition Obedience – October 2015
- Reactive Dog Workshop with Elise Gouge and Tibby Chase – July 2015
- “Sociability vs. Aggression Thresholds in Dogs” with Sue Sternberg – May 2015
- “Canine Social and Psychological Development” course with Gail Fisher – October 2014
- “Living and Learning with Animals: The Science Behind Training – Application for Best Outcomes” course with Susan Friedman, PhD — October 2014
- Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) Annual Conference – October 2014
- TagTeach Primary Certification Workshop and Seminar with Theresa McKeon – October 2014
- ClickerExpo, Norfolk, VA – March 2013
About the Pictures on Our Website
- Photos of Sharon and Barnum by Sarah Bossert.
- Photos of future Leader Dogs for the Blind (Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers) provided by Patti Brehler.
- Thanks to friends and clients who provided pictures of their pups: Jen (Lucy the Basset Hound), Nicole (Pete the Rat Terrier), Karyn (Thane the Border Collie and Chimette the Border Collie/Doberman mix), and Sam (TJ the terrier mix).