Sherry Antonishen, CBCC-KA, BA (Honours in Communication)
Sherry loved dogs from before she could walk, and loved reading about and researching them prior to Kindergarten! Her love of dogs and education came together when she received her Certificate in Training and Counseling (CTC) from the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers in the spring of 2004, a training program known as the “Harvard for Dog Trainers” because of its emphasis on critical thinking and the science of learning. What was surprising was how much compassion and humanity flowed from the practical, critical skills — important as Sherry loves working with people as much as working with dogs. Fifteen years later, still interested in deepening her professional skills, Sherry studied the principles of learning and Applied Behaviour Analysis with Dr Susan G. Friedman and was again struck by how a deeply skilled understanding of behaviour can lead to force-free, lasting change for our dog companions.
Sherry is a strong advocate for international regulation and professionalization of the dog training industry and holds a Certified Behavior Consultant Canine (CBCC-KA). The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) sets the world standard in dog training; its certification is based on continuing education, years of experience, and intensive standardized testing. All SmartDog Trainers, regardless of previous certifications, must write and pass the exams and meet the criteria of the CCPDT. Sherry is also a member of the Vancouver Island Animal Training Association (VIATA) and The Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers whose mandates are embodied in SmartDog Training’s philosophy, and was Pet First Aid Certified through Walks N Wags in 2015. She has appeared on the A-Channel and Chek TV, been interviewed repeatedly on C-FAX and CBC radio, and written for several publications on dog behaviour.
With her in-depth training and over 15 years of hands-on experience, Sherry specializes in behaviour modification of fearful and reactive dogs. Her own dogs include rescues that others have found too difficult — she works with all breeds, and knows that under the label ‘difficult to train’, ‘shy’ or even ‘hyper’, is a dog that can be helped with the right skill set and tools. Sherry’s problem-solving skills help her clients manage and modify even the most challenging behaviour issues with practical, humane protocols.
When not running classes or working with clients on behaviour and training, Sherry can usually be found in her agility barn, running her own dogs or coaching others in this exciting, fun sport!
Roberta has a keen interest in the relationship between people and their dogs, and enjoys working with both humans and canines. An invaluable member of our team, Roberta has been with us since January of 2010. Her knowledge of both dog and people learning is truly amazing and clients that work with Roberta will always come away with new skills and a feeling of accomplishment. A strong believer in SmartDog’s positive training and problem solving philosophy, Roberta’s goal is to deliver classes that are both fun and educational for you and your puppy or adult dog.
Roberta is s a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (knowledge assessed) by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. (CCPDT), and was Pet First Aid Certified through Walks N Wags in 2015.
Malli brings experience from 10 years in Animal Care, including time working in Veterinary Emergency. With an interest in dog training and behaviour, she joined SmartDog at the end of 2015 as a step forward in her knowledge and understanding dogs. She enjoys working with clients toward a better understanding of and enjoyment in their relationship with their dogs. Malli brings with her a good understanding of animal learning theory and a variety practical experiences.
Malli is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (knowledge assessed) by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. (CCPDT)
In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors and exploring our lovely West Coast.
While Heather has loved animals her whole life, her fascination with training really developed when she adopted her young dog, Toby. In her never-ending search for jobs for Toby, she found SmartDog agility and it was love at first jump for both of them. Heather brings to the classroom her keen observation skills and a solid understanding of training methodologies. She also enjoys hiking and camping — with dogs in tow, of course.
Karen Leman, ANWI, K9 Nosework Trainer
Karen is the newest member of the Smart Dog training staff. She has been training in K9 Nosework since 2013 and started Instructor Training and Certification in California in August 2018. Karen has 4 small mixed breed dogs, all adopted as adults, that participate in K9 Nosework and Agility. She became interested in K9 Nosework as a rewarding activity for her retired agility terrier Spy and for her environmentally sensitive dog, Emmett. Karen is looking forward to working with you and your dog to explore the fun activity and sport of scent detection.
Madlin Fitzner, Office Manager
Madlin is our fabulous office manager who has moved here from Germany to enjoy our beautiful island. When she’s not in the office, you will probably find Madlin outside enjoying everything our coast has to offer.
Margaret has always loved animals. When she got Ben, her first working dog, she promised the breeder she would try herding and agility to give him a job. Herding wasn’t their thing but they quickly became addicted to agility. Recently retired from over 30 years with the provincial government, Margaret is thrilled to have the opportunity to fill in for Madlin, where she can combine her administrative skills with her love of dogs. She’s looking forward to working with people who share her passion and learning more about training dogs.
Iain Down, Classroom Volunteer and Farm Worker
Iain volunteers with us on Tuesday nights. If you are lucky enough to be in a class where Iain is present you will likely receive some extra help settling and/or training your dog or puppy. You can also find Iain doing general maintenance on the SmartDog farm and agility barn.