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.
Audrey Folsom CPDT-KA
Audrey has loved animals, specifically dogs her whole life. She convinced her parents to get her very first dog when she was just four years old, and she’s had a dog ever since! When Audrey moved into her first apartment she adopted Ruby, her first dog. Ruby was the sweetest pup but had severe separation anxiety issues. Audrey did tons of research and found tons of conflicting advice, but quickly realized that this issue could not be resolved through anything aversive. Audrey discovered fear-free and positive reinforcement training and was able to help Ruby learn to be alone comfortably and without anxiety. While she was working with Ruby she realized she had a true passion for working with dogs, so she began seeking a career that allowed her to follow her passion full-time. When Audrey told her best friend she wanted to start a career working with dogs, her best friend said “I don’t know why we didn’t think of that before, it makes so much sense!”.
Audrey spent a lot of time working and assisting under multiple trainers, and even spent time helping to raise newborn puppies in order to learn everything she could about dogs and their development, learning, and training process. She then became a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA).
Audrey loves to work with dogs that have separation anxiety. This allows her the honor of helping other pet parents through what she went through with Ruby. Some of Audrey’s other training interests include puppy training and reactivity.
Audrey is committed to life-long learning and continues to learn by reading, researching, and attending conferences so that she can learn even more about how to train in the most effective and humane way, and so that she can facilitate the best possible relationships between humans and their dogs.
Cali McAffrey CPDT-KA
Cali grew up with a menagerie of pets and began training dogs professionally in 2008. She started with group classes focusing on puppies and basic obedience, progressing to teaching private lessons after a couple of years, and then ultimately working toward the CPDT-KA certification that she now holds. Cali has always enjoyed having a multi-animal household and shares her life with several herding breed dogs, a sighthound, two cats, and a herd of dairy goats- not to mention a very tolerant husband. She is passionate about continued education and attends as many seminars, conferences, and workshops as she is able to, as well as constantly absorbing more information via podcasts, books, and online classes. On the rare occasion that she isn't busy nerding out over dogs, behavior, and training, she can be found hiking with her dogs. Cali specializes in reactivity cases, recourse guarding, puppy training, and focuses on choice and consent in the training process.
Sarah Alvarado CPDT-KA
Sarah discovered a passion for training and behavior when she took her first dog home from a local shelter while attending Texas A&M University. Throughout college she worked in a veterinary office and gained invaluable experience. She graduated with a degree in Animal Science in 2007 and began teaching group puppy and obedience classes in 2010. In 2014 she began working with service dogs. For three years she worked with female inmates in the Texas prison system teaching service dog training and handling. Sarah is committed to continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences to improve her knowledge and skill. In September 2017 she became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed. She shares her home with her husband, a 7-year-old Catahoula, a 2-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, and two 12-year-old cats.