At Your Service Dog Training, LLC, is owned and operated by Sharon Wachsler, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP. Sharon uses effective, positive methods to train both service animals and family pets.
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 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, who won 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.
Since that time, Sharon has apprenticed with trainers in group classes and private behavior consulting. She is a graduate with distinction from Karen Pryor Academy’s “Dog Trainer Professional Course” and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
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 specializing in 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 a 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, etc. Sharon lives with her Bouvier des Flandres, Barnum (career-changed from service dog to demo dog), two moderately well-trained gerbils, and one human partner.
Geographical and Training Specifics
For private training in basic manners and obedience for pet dogs, we travel within 30 minutes of Wendell, MA (generally includes Wendell, New Salem, Orange, Athol, Greenfield, Northfield, Turners Falls, Montague, Leverett, Shutesbury, Erving, Petersham, Deerfield, South Deerfield, Warwick, Sunderland, and parts of Pelham, Belchertown, and north Amherst.
For private service dog training, we travel 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 we travel 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?
- Animal Alliances, Northampton, MA — “Service Dog Owner-Training: Is it right for you?” April 14, 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
- 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
- ClickerExpo, Stamford, CT – March, 2017
- 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
Sharon is sometimes assisted by Marlene Layman when conducting puppy temperament tests or assessing adoptable dogs as service-dog candidates.
Marlene Layman, ABCDT
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.
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).