force-free dog trainers

Here is a list of all the Nova Scotia dog trainers who use positive methods I can personally vouch for, or that have been recommended to me by people I trust in Nova Scotia.

Please do not take your dog to anyone who may hurt or frighten, or be harsh with your dog.  That means absolutely no shock collars ever, no pinch/prong collars, no choke chains.  These methods lack compassion, and don’t build trust.  Trust is a key component in the dog/human relationship.  Not only will a dog who is trained with essentially violent methods not trust you, you will never be able to trust that dog.  Especially a dog who has been subjected to a shock collar can be a ticking time bomb.  Using these methods is a failure of understanding of what actually motivates dogs to please humans.  And it’s lazy to boot…

There are no quick and easy fixes in dog behavior, sorry.

Nova Scotia dog trainer, Silvia Jay
Macy and I on CTV Morning Live with Silvia Jay and Bowie- March 21st, 2017

None of this is taken lightly by me.  For almost 20 years I’ve owned rescued dogs and volunteered with animal shelters.  I’ve fostered dogs, and had friends visit my home with their dogs.  I’ve frequented dog parks and visited pet stores all across Atlantic Canada with my dogs.  I took two years of agility training.  Dogs are something I know a lot about.  If people want to charge you a lot of money for a quick fix, or to sell you a device that will “correct” your dog’s behavior quickly remember how powerful money is and what people will do to get yours.  Man’s best friend deserves better than that.

Here is an excellent and educational video that debunks “dominance theory”.   Everyone who loves dogs should watch this.

Okay…so here are the good guys…

Nova Scotia

Sublime Canine – I refer most of my friends and family to the team at Sublime I have known most of their team for almost 20 years and they really helped with Macy after I rescued her

Silvia Jay – my favorite dog resource in Nova Scotia – she does primarily behavioral consults and one on one training – you may also hear her on CBC radio from time to time

The Mindful Canine (Miranda Wimbush)

Bowser’s Buddies (Sue Chisolm – Eastern Passage)

Dig it Dogs (Elise St. Pierre) – the website isn’t updated yet but they are giving up boarding and doing a lot more training – I just completed an outdoor obedience class with my Border Collie puppy, Milo, and it was awesome!



Gentle Paws – I can’t say enough good about Milo’s puppy classes with Tabea we did at Jollytails when he was about 2/12 months old

Cloverfield Behavioral Services

Unleashed Pawsabilities

Fetch Inc.

Good Dog Works (Alex Keir)

Aimee Leudey

Ditto’s Canine Learning Centre (Jane Smith)

Talking Canines (Jackie McGowan-St Croix)

Paw With Laws (Samantha Lifsches)

A Change of Pace – Milo and I are doing a “fun obedience” class with Jane at Nova Dog Sport and it’s fantastic and we learn lots every week…and we already know lots!

Nova Dog Sport

On Cue Animal Training

On a personal note, how about some herding classes for HRM?  Even without sheep there should be something we could do?  The closest sheep herding classes I can find are Lunenburg or Annapolis.  It’s so good for the Border Collies to teach control and patience and work with their natural instinct.

Trieball would be perfect for herding dogs too!

Cape Breton

Mary Holland-Grist – email Mary to see when she has another class starting up

Keith O’Flaherty – if you are able to connect with Keith he is great but he’s really busy!

Grant Young – for private agility training – or for the agility club

Cape Breton Post article about agility at the Millville Community Centre

Worthy of note there are very few people to recommend in Cape Breton and that is a shame.  Dogs are being shortchanged in Cape Breton and we need someone good to move down their and take the island by storm!   For behavior problems, currently I’d recommend Alex Keir in New Glasgow area as being the next closest.  Hoping to put together a seminar, perhaps in conjunction with the SPCA of some positive methods to at least introduce some possibilities to the good folks in my hometown and surrounding areas.  Come on Sydney let’s end the whole chokechain punish the dog mentality in Cape Breton it’s time! (update October 2018 was happy to post some new links for CB and have a little hope)

I will be adding more shortly…stay tuned.


Rose Brown – Dynamic Canines

Jennie Murphy – Rock Solid Dog

In Gander, Newfoundland – Krysta Garland at Click, Play, Love comes highly recommended.  I’ve been told by locals you can see a big difference in dogs trained by her and dogs trained by other people.  And the ones trained by her are all doing very well!  Keep up the great work Krysta

New Brunswick

Katie at Dogma Moncton

Doggone Positive – Shelley Hunter

Prince Edward Island (coming soon)

On another note, there are some dicey rescue groups placing aggressive and/or sick dogs in Nova Scotia.  Please be very careful about who you adopt a dog from.

A few of my favorite rescues:

Misfit Manor

Marley’s Hope

Good Bones

I also do not recommend dealing with a rescue group that works with trainers who use shock collars.

Whether you purchase a puppy from a local breeder, or rescue a dog, it’s very important to do your homework.

A dog will be in your home for about 15 years typically you want to get this right.

My friend Silvia Jay always says you need to put 2 years of work into your dog whether or not it’s a new puppy or a new rescue.

Sometimes older dogs come into rescue with no behavioral issues and can be a good choice for first time dog owners though.