Jennifer Burns M.A., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA
My name is Jennifer Burns, and I am the founder of Conscious Dog Training. I am one of only 161 Certified Professional Behavior Consultant Canine- Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) in the world. I am also a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed though the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, a Certified Fear Free Animal Trainer, a Professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, a professional member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a professional member of the Pet Professional Guild, a Certified AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, a Certified CATCH Mentor Trainer, and I have been published by the APDT as well as the CCPDT. I have a Masters Degree in Psychology, an extensive background working with children, over 16 years of dog training experience, and I proudly serve on the board of directors for the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers.
My dog training adventure started in 2004 when I sought out a professional dog trainer for my Adolescent Lab/Boxer mix named Rocco. We barely survived puppyhood, and despite my best efforts to exercise and entertain him with seemingly endless hours of fetch per day, I realized that I was essentially training my dog to be 88 pounds of hyperactivity with the stamina of a marathon runner, and I needed professional help. As soon as I started working with Rocco’s trainer, I was enthralled with the training process. I realized that dog training was rooted in psychology and learning theory, and discovering how to apply that to dog behavior was magical for me.
With the guidance of Rocco’s trainer, I started observing dog training sessions and reading every dog training book that he recommended. With the knowledge and skills that I had attained, Rocco transformed from an out of control, hyper dog to a Certified Pet Partners Complex Therapy Dog. In addition to my early years of observation, I worked at a high capacity dog kennel where I had the opportunity to observe hundreds of hours of dog training and behavior as a kennel technician and an assistant trainer. Since then, I have trained anywhere from 50-100 dogs per week on average, and I have resolved a variety of behaviors ranging from potty training to aggression using only force-free and science based methods.
I believe that dog training is truly about training the human, and while I can train any dog, my greatest gift to dog training is the ability to coach the dog parent how to train and effectively communicate with their dog, thereby enhancing the human-dog relationship. The ability to bridge the communication gap between a dog and a human is priceless, and I am incredibly grateful that I can use my innate gifts to help dogs and people on a daily basis. However, the most rewarding aspect of dog training is witnessing clients shift from frustrated dog parents to calm, trustworthy dog parents that not only understand a dog’s behavior, but can effectively manage and modify a dog’s behavior using the force-free and choice based methods and techniques that I teach.
My goal is to empower my clients to create a conscious relationship with their dog that is based on clear communication, joyful cooperation, and connection; a relationship that encourages dogs to become conscious thinkers so that behavior can be both attained and maintained for the lifespan of the dog.
Erin’s passion for animals started at a young age. From the moment she could talk, she spent most of her time begging her parents for a puppy. When her parents finally relented, she became the owner of a black Lab named Zoey and they were instantly inseparable. Her relationship with Zoey sparked a passion for dog training. To this day, Erin brings this childhood joy of working with Zoey to her job helping others with their dogs. Many of Erin’s achievements in dog training she shares with her personal pets.
While Erin was in college, she was gifted a Husky puppy, Niko. He came with a laundry list of behavioral issues, including resource guarding. Erin started researching positive methods to help solve his issues. From that moment on, one thing was clear, she wanted to focus her life around helping both people and their animals overcome issues and form a happy compassionate relationship, so they too could live in harmony together.
Erin began apprenticing under a local trainer, and she assisted in teaching classes and observing behavior modification cases. Erin worked as a rehabilitation technician at a specialty veterinarian hospital for years. She cared for animals post major surgeries and grew an even deeper appreciation for dogs. “Finding motivation for dogs learning to walk again, was a humbling experience” She keeps an active role in the local dog training community. She volunteers at animal shelters and fosters dogs, teaching skills to give them a better chance at adoption. She has helped select appropriate dogs for the Austin-based Kids and K9 program. Erin strives to continue learning new methods of positive training and has attended various seminars hosted by Sue Sternberg, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Pat Miller and Grisha Stewart to name a few. She has presented to boarding facilities on the subject of dog-to-dog communication, proper play and choosing appropriate play groups.Erin believes that kindness is truly powerful, especially while training. “Training should be fun, for the human and dog!” She believes you will get the best results by teaching your dog what you’d like from them, rather than correcting a mistake. “We can teach dogs to make good choices all on their own!” Erin loves working with shy dogs and helping them build confidence. “Watching a dog enjoy new experiences and come out of their shell is the best feeling in the world.” Erin also enjoys teaching pups impulse control and the skills to cope with our hectic, human lives. Erin truly loves what she does and there isn’t much she wouldn’t do for her clients! When Erin isn’t training you can find her hiking, kayaking, and watching movies and improv comedy shows. She shares her home in Austin, Texas with her long term boyfriend Jared, her two dogs Niko and Jovie, and dog savvy cat Ellie.She has been training dogs in Austin since 2012.
Whitney Spence CPDT-KA
Whitney has always had a love for animals. She never knew that she would find the career that makes her heart sing. When she just started high school, her family decided to adopt a dog rather than going to a breeder like their last three. This is when they adopted a Jack russel/Black Lab mix named, Hollywood. Very quickly they realized they needed help as she was very people and dog reactive. The trainer used aversive methods and Whitney wanted to find a better way rather than scaring or forcing her dog to do anything. Once she found positive reinforcement training, she never went back. Friends and family started seeing the results and spread the word so she could help other dogs in her community. She now has a strong passion for working with reactivity and misunderstood dogs. Nothing makes her happier than being able to help owners understand and build a connection with their dogs. "Our dogs are always talking to us and it is up to us to acknowledge and show them what they can do". She originally wanted to become a veterinarian but with the loss of her childhood dogs, she found another way to help dogs and their people.
She has a Border Collie mix, Kimchi, and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Soju, that love to explore and perform tricks. Whitney is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed, and an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She loves going to conferences and attending virtual lectures to continue growing in the ever evolving science-based training.
Reed Villarreal CPDT-KA
Reed Villarreal was born and raised in San Francisco. An avid animal lover, Reed was known to bring home random strays and try to make them her own. As renters, Reed’s parents were not allowed to have dogs, but not to be dissuaded Reed memorized the book “The Encyclopedia of the Dog” back to back, soaking up all of the information she could on different dog breeds. Reed often pet sat, walked the local neighborhood dogs, and had various other small animals as pets. As a child Reed volunteered with various dog rescue organizations and at the Randall Museum in the animal room working with wildlife.
Reed’s interest in animal and human behavior led her to earn her Bachelor’s in Psychology from San Francisco State University, where she graduated with honors. Reed then started assisting with puppy socialization playgroups at SF Puppy Prep. From there, Reed began working more deeply with two dog rescue groups, eventually joining the founding board of Northern California Family Dog Rescue where she helped to establish behavior protocols, organize classes specifically for shelter dogs, and preformed behavior evaluations to see if shelter dogs were a good fit for Family Dog’s program. Reed fostered and trained countless dogs in her own home, ranging from day old chihuahua puppies to 100 pound american bulldogs, and loved the challenge that each individual dog presented.
Wanting to expand her knowledge of canine behavior, Reed attended Marin Humane Society’s Canine Behavior Academy 1 and 2 under the tutelage of Trish King. Shortly after she was invited to participate in the newly formed SF SPCA Behavior and Training Dog Internship Program where she was lucky to be tutored by Kim Moeller, one of the current leading experts in dog reactivity.
During that time Reed began assisting with classes ranging from basic puppy classes to more advanced classes like tricks and Reactive Rover. She also became widely known in San Francisco as someone who is an expert in deaf dogs and began providing private lessons for all dogs covering various issues. Reed has worked with an extensive variety of behavioral concerns ranging from basic obedience to dog/dog or human aggression.
Reed’s own dogs are a deaf and vision impaired Australian Shepherd named Argus and a Cattle Dog/Border Collie mix named Lakshmi. Both dogs have attended countless classes and compete in various dog sports. Argus has earned his Canine Good Citizen as well as an APDT Rally Obedience level 1 title with an Award of Excellence. Lakshmi also has her Canine Good Citizen and holds various agility titles.
Reed still has a passion for deaf dogs but her other interests include shy or fearful dogs, helping owners to understand their high energy working breeds, puppy socialization, reactivity, separation anxiety, human and dog aggression, reactivity prevention, and she loves to teach fun creative tricks. Reed is a CPDT-KA certified trainer.