"I first met Joellen in summer 2014. I'm disabled, and I was looking into getting a service dog. I couldn't afford the program dogs, and also really wanted to rescue a dog rather than pay for one to be made for me special. I researched the hell out of local dog trainers and sent a message to literally every one I could find asking about working together to train me a service dog. I had three requirements: positive reinforcement only (no alpha dog-ing and other Cesar Milan bullshit); would help me select a rescue dog to train; and was affordable. Out of all the trainers I messaged who were within four hours of San Francisco, Joellen was the only one who met all three criteria. The few yelp reviews she had seemed good, and when I met her in person I liked her.
Fast forward to now, almost two years later. My service dog Kato is fast asleep beside me as I write this. From the four weeks intensive board-and-train bootcamp when I first adopted him as an 8 week old puppy, to having someone to text at ungodly hours of the morning when he got sick and I (never had a dog before!) didn't know if I should panic or not, Joellen reliably goes above & beyond for me & my pup. I don't exaggerate when I say I consider her family now, and am confident I made the best possible decision choosing to work with her.
She video-chatted me as I nervously visited multiple animal shelters and foster pups and walked me through assessing for likely candidates. Once we found a pup, she fostered him for a week to confirm suitability, and then for three more weeks to bootcamp him on his basics: potty training; public access; and basic manners/obedience etc. What I got back was a smart, happy three month old puppy who could already accompany me quietly to restaurants, movies and grocery stores. Since then we've driven up for classes and sent him for several bootcamp 'top ups' as he grows and becomes old enough for new responsibilities and tasks to help me. What I love best about Joellen's way of training is that from eager-to-please chubby puppy to gangly testing-his-boundaries teenager, I can always see my dog really truly THINKING about how to do things. Rather than a fearful, bored, anxious or highly strung pup, I get to enjoy constantly watching him rise to new challenges (like picking up a debit card from a shiny grocery store floor!). Every time I drop him at Joellen's it's like leaving him at doggy disneyland he enjoys it so much, and with Joellen's endlessly-patient coaching I can take genuine pleasure out of teaching and working with him, no matter how many obvious questions I ask or how frustrated I get.
Even this winter when health things got really rough for me, Joellen was there to help us through it, with a neverending wellspring of patience, good humour and generosity. I couldn't recommend a dog trainer more highly, and can confidently assure you - reader - that you won't regret working with her, whether you need something as simple as help teaching your dog to stop yelling at the doorbell or snapping at other dogs, or as complex as training a service dog for multiple disabilities. If you can imagine it, Joellen can prolly find some way to train your dog to do it!"
Jack Dunn and Kato - San Francisco, CA 2014- present
Joellen also offers a fun nose work class, which my newf thinks is just the most fun ever! I didn't know anything about this type of work & Joellen made the class fun & low-key. It's really amazing to see your dog discovering something new. Highly recommend this class."
Carla Scolieri and Siri - Santa Rosa, Ca 2015 - present
Maryrose Hutchinson and Bailey - Sebastopol, CA - 2014 - present
Tere and Kate - Guernville, CA - 2011 - present
"Joellen has been a fantastic asset to us during the addition of
our two latest family members. Carlie, our pug, joined us when
she was 3 months old. Joellen's help in establishing basic obedience
and house training for her made the common frustrations of having
a new puppy much less of an issue, and smoothed her transition into our household.
Lenny, our French Bulldog, was adopted at one year of age. His prior
household had neglected to institute any house or obedience training.
We felt we were facing a disaster, especially as he joined up just
when Carlie's training was beginning to come along. With Joellen's
advice and expertise we were able to easily institute measures that quickly
set us on the road toward him being reliably house trained and cooperative.
In addition to Joellen's skill in communicating effective training
techniques, she was able to provide insight into the individual
personality traits of our dogs. This allowed us to better understand their
distinct natures, and utilize the most effective tools for training them.
Aside from Carlie and Lenny, our household consists of our 2 and
a half year old son, as well as three cats. With our busy lifestyle, it was
so helpful to have Joellen as a dependable resource for integrating our two
new dogs smoothly. We are so grateful for all of her help, and heartily
recommend her for anyone seeking assistance in any form of behavioral training."
Lisa Schweid, DVM
Erich Williams, DVM
Raymond, "Lenny(RIP)", and "Carlie" - Santa Rosa, Ca. 4/2008 - present
"Annie and I have been working with Joellen since Annie was nine weeks old. I first contacted Joellen for help with puppy basics, because it had been twenty years since my last puppy and I was in a bit of a panic. I was sold when Annie started sleeping through the night as soon as I implemented some of the suggestions Joellen gave me. She also showed me how to train some basic commands, and Annie was on her way to becoming a well-behaved dog. We went through puppy class starting at four months, and then worked on intermediate obedience until Annie was a little over a year old. Now we do agility class for fun once a week. Joellen’s methods are positive, easy to train, and effective. Annie is a very smart, trainable dog that’s eager to please, but she’s also shy. This has presented some training and handling challenges over time, and Joellen has always been there to answer my questions and offer additional support and help when I’ve needed it. It’s very easy to turn a shy dog into an aggressive or neurotic mess if they’re not managed well. I don’t think Annie would be as well-adjusted as she is, given her issues, if I hadn’t found Joellen to help me get onto the right path. The capper is that Annie loves, loves, loves Joellen. It’s a running joke in agility class that the only thing that really distracts Annie during her runs is Joellen. That alone tells me I’ve found a trainer worth keeping!"
S.Y. and "Annie", Sebastopol, CA 2007 - present
"Our two dogs are pretty close in age and we have been through 7 trainers before we met Joellen.
Before our then 1.5 year old male lab started showing signs of severe dog aggression it was just basic obedience and minor behavioral adjustments that we were in for, but I still knew that none of the people we were working with was able to work with the problem we had to face. Titan, who was an extremely easy as a puppy, has become so difficult, impossible to handle after he turned one. I was going for walks and coming back in tears. I knew only someone very special will be able to help us. Joellen has become this person for us and we have been working together for almost a year now and intend to stay in close relations with her for long as possible.
Since our first session in may of 2007 I saw hope for us helping Titan overcoming his issues. We love working with Joellen and her ways of communicating with humans and dogs. She is very easy to understand, very consistent with her methods, but yet so non-overwhelming. Another thing that I just love about her is the fact that she is not promising the "gold" but focusing on the very reality and taking it in a very realistic manner with her time frames and objectives.
10 months into our training, Titan became a different dog. Or maybe I should say: he is the same dog as he always has been, but I am the human who grew to understand him, to be his leader, to gain his trust, to know how to guide him through his fears in life and to see him grow into an adult dog who can trust me.
We continue to work with Joellen on Titan's behavior. We are also doing agility with him in group classes, and he is doing fantastic! Something we never would have dreamed would be possible a few months ago.
I would always and very highly recommend Joellen to anyone. I simply couldn't thank her enough for what she has been doing for us."
Magda Friedman and "Titan" - Santa Rosa, Ca. 2007 - present
"I first started training my dogs with Joellen in 2005. That is when Ginger & Codey were just old enough to start learning Agility. At that time she noticed that Codey was sensitive to other dogs. This turned out to be a real issue for him.
Over the years, I have kept doing Agility training with Ginger with Joellen, Ginger now competes in AKC Agility trials and is doing very well. Codey kept getting more and more reactive with other dogs, so I took him to Joellen for behavior training. After many reactive dog training sessions, both with her dogs as ‘controls’ and then with other reactive dogs present, Codey is now able to walk on leash around other dogs with confidence. This is a great relief to me, since I want him to be able to “take-a-walk” with Ginger and her daughter Candy.
Speaking of Candy, Joellen has helped me with Candy since she was about 16 weeks old. First, she helped me understand mother-daughter dynamics, so that I wouldn’t keep trying to do Mother Ginger’s job. Once that happened, the mother-daughter team learned to react appropriately with each other and now they are best of friends.
Secondly, Candy was a bit timid; Joellen let Candy be around the chickens, sheep, horses & cows at her training facility and play with her own dogs. After a few sessions Candy began to be quite comfortable in many situations that had once concerned her.
Now, Candy is in Agility training with Joellen, and has started competing. She has already won some ribbons and shows great potential for a promising future in Agility.
I don’t know what I would have done without Joellen’s help."
Fay, "Ginger", "Codey" & "Candy" 2005 - present
"When we first decided to bring home a high drive, working line German Shepherd puppy, we knew we were going to want help training her properly. Even with that knowledge, though, we were completely unprepared for the 7 week old bundle of energy and mischief that came into our formerly serene household! After a few frantic phone calls, we met with Joellen the first time just 3 days after Deja’s arrival. From the beginning, Joellen recognized Deja not only as a high-drive GSD puppy, but also as an individual, with her own particular set of strengths and weaknesses. Joellen coached us in how to handle baby habits, educated us on what to expect as Deja aged, and got us started out on the right foot. Between individual attention and small group classes, Joellen has helped us to bring out Deja’s potential. Today Deja is a beautiful, smart, healthy, and precocious teenager (nearly 2 years old). She still has a lot to learn, but she is loving, obedient, and loyal. We are looking forward to taking her to agility training and introducing her to wilderness expeditions. Because of the foundation, continued training and support Joellen gives us, we know Deja can handle anything."
Devra Wolf & Viki Chaudrue, "Deja"(RIP), Sebastopol/Ukiah, CA 9/2008
Joey and I would like to thank you for your training classes. When we first got 'Blue' and she came of adolescence, I thought for sure we would have to find her another home because of her fighting with my other dog 'Cajun.' The unexpected reality of having 2, female, Staffordshire Terriers (American Pit Bulls). I thought with enough love and her young age we would be able to work through the fights. After our vet brought you into our lives, I learned differently. After Private Individual Training you showed us and our dogs the proper way to train and maintain the ability to live together in a disciplined manner. Practice, Practice and more practice. I never thought Blue would be able to maintain herself around other dogs. Before (small) group lessons with you and Blue, I never thought she would be able to control herself around other dogs. I continued to believe that she would have to avoid all situations that involved other dogs. You taught us, and Baby Blue, that it was possible to have an obedient dog, even around stressful situations. I almost cried, I was so proud of her, the day you told her to sit 3 feet from another dog and she did without looking him. Although she still has a lot to learn, as well as myself, I believe working with you as part of our lives has helped us greatly to be able to keep our beloved dogs happy and controlled. We thank you from the bottom of our heart for showing us how to keep our family together. We would be lost without our pit bulls and your knowledgeable attribute. Much thanks and appreciation,
UPDATE: Our dear Cajun passed away in 2009. Joellen went with me and stayed with me at the vet's as Cajun passed over to the Rainbow Bridge. We still have Blue, and 2 new pit bulls (photos coming soon), Sapper (born 11/2009), and Shasta (born 6/2010). We are now living in Sacramento and come down every week with all the dogs for training and behavior lessons from Joellen.
Tera, Joey, "Cajun (RIP)", "Blue"(RIP), Sapper, and Shasta
Santa Rosa/Sacramento, Ca. 2002 - present
"For us Joellen Burton is an outstanding dog behavior consultant and trainer. We were fortunate when we first met her in 2003 at the Marin Humane Society as the behavior consultant who analyzed our extremely shy border collie, Julie, and recommended procedures and training to help alleviate Julie's many problems. Julie instantly bonded with Joellen, and the considerable improvement in Julie's behavior has been due in great measure to Joellen's counsel. A year later we met Joellen again, this time as trainer of the dog agility classes, a program she initiated at the Marin Humane Society. Julie immediately responded to Joellen exuberantly and dramatically in a manner she seldom displayed with anyone else. She showed that same spirit and drive in learning agility skills at Joellen's classes, progressing through novice, intermediate, and advanced levels. Throughout the training Joellen encouraged us by emphasizing Julie's great potential which Julie today continues to demonstrate on agility courses--including Joellen's new training facility at her ranch in Sebastopol. Unfortunately, Frank has developed a health problem which has prohibited him from doing the running necessary to continue doing Agility with Julie."
Frank and Virginia Perez and "Julie"(RIP) - Novato, CA 2003 - 2007
Virginia passed away peacefully on 2/5/11 after a brief battle with cancer. She is and always will be dearly missed.
"When Brett and I were looking for a dog in the Spring of 2004, a Pit Bull was the last dog I would have chosen. I had all the misconceptions about them that many people do. Then Brett saw Hennessy at the Marin Humane Society and fell in love. That is where Joellen came in. Joellen had taken Henny under her wing and had her living in her home as a 'foster child' for 6 weeks, in order to temperament test her and work on some basic training and manners. Joellen coached us to become informed dog owners. Once we read more about the breed we knew that Hennessy was the dog for us. Joellen helped us to prepare our home and our lives for our new arrival. Little did we know how much she had done with Henny until we took her to our first obedience class. Hennessy was the star! She knew commands already that we were not aware of. It made our job of further training with her very easy. And we owed it all to the work that Joellen had done with her. Throughout the time that we have had Hennessy Joellen has continued to be a support to us. She is always there to answer any questions we might have, or to offer advice if we need it. We are lucky that Henny has such a special place in Joellen's heart, because everything she has done has helped us to have the most wonderful experience with Henny. We feel lucky everyday to have ended up with the best dog ever! Hennessy loves to visit Joellen, and tries to at least once a year. Brett and I both wish that every dog we ever may get in the future could come with a "Joellen," but I doubt we'll be that lucky!."
Christy and Brett Howard and "Hennessy" (RIP sweet Henny) - Petaluma, CA 2006
Whether for routine puppy training advanced specialized training (on and off leash), or correcting behavioral problems, Joellen Burton is always helpful, dedicated and extremely honest. There are too many trainers with a "one size fits all" approach to training but Joellen's approach is very different. Joellen understands that successful training is done by first examining the specific breed and age specific behavior along with the dog's specific temperament issues, and then molding a program specific to the dog and its owner.
I have been extremely impressed that Joellen was able to do the following upon first meeting my adolescent Shepherd: Establish the root cause of the problem. Provide an explanation as to why the problem exists. Demonstrate a suitable handling approach and technique. Present a training program to remedy the problem.
Her firm, yet very gentle approach to training has not only strengthened the bond I have with my Shepherd, but he is actually excited to go to his training sessions and his tail is always wagging when he sees Joellen.
It is such a pleasure to be able to refer people to Joellen Burton, as she's not only extremely professional, but she has decades of knowledge and expertise under her belt.
Debbie Bernstein, "Remy"(RIP), "Rosie"(RIP), and "Buddy"(RIP) - San Rafael, CA 2004 - 2012
"Training two very rambunctious, mischievous and curious siblings turned out to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. After meeting Joellen at the Marin Humane Society, I knew Joellen was the instructor who could teach me techniques to modify my dog's behavior and find more constructive outlets for their intense energy. Joellen has successfully tailored our training to match the temperament and personalities of my dogs. Joellen has shown me a variety of approaches to working with my dogs that have had noticeably visible results."
Lisa Meyer, "Niko" and "Tasha" - San Rafael, CA 2007
"I think it's very important to begin puppy training with a trainer who possesses great skills in observing animal behavior, uses a variety of training methods, and has the communication skills to help the pet owner establish a solid training foundation for his or her pet. I was lucky to begin training my Portuguese Water Dog, Charlie, with a trainer who has all those qualities--Joellen Burton.
When Charlie was three months old we took a puppy play class from Joellen. From her excellent evaluative skills of all of the puppies' behavior, I learned a lot about Charlie's temperament, and what to watch for in other puppies while they played together. Three and a half years later, I can tell whether Charlie and another dog are playing nicely or if one or the other is trying to dominate, which can lead to fighting. If I need to end the play period, other skills I began learning in that first class with Joellen, such as a solid recall or down, help calm an overexcited situation. And because I learned to keep my attention on Charlie while he plays with other dogs, he knows I'm there to back him up, and he shows this by now-and-then flicking a happy glance toward me.
I have built on the foundation of that first puppy class by participating with Charlie in water work and freestyle. With Joellen we have taken agility classes and private lessons for obedience and agility. In agility it is essential that Charlie run the course the way I direct. However he has tremendous enthusiasm and likes to run it his way, and that has been a challenge for me, particularly at 66 years. Through observing my handling of Charlie on and off the course, Joellen has provided me with good practical advice to overcome his head-strong ways, and consequently he and I have had our daily life together enriched, and improved our game in all the dog sports we do.
I look forward to many more lessons with Joellen, and so does Charlie who adores her!"
Janice Goucher and "Charlie" - Sausalito, CA 12/07
It was 1991 or 1992 when we last had to seek the advice and assistance of a dog trainer, so understandably our knowledge concerning the prevailing dog training methodology was lacking in many ways. But in 2008 when we adopted Shelby, a three-year old Sheltie who’d spent almost her entire life in a garage or tied out on a porch, training became our highest priority.
We were exceedingly fortunate to find Joellen Burton who met with us for several hours and conducted an in-depth evaluation of Shelby’s temperament and skills. Joellen impressed us with her thoroughness and her very skilled and knowledgeable approach to positive, reward-based training techniques. So after our first meeting, we immediately started on a journey with Joellen that has taken us from amateur to capable dog owners.
Training was the first thing we focused on and we started with basic obedience – teaching Shelby the all-important skill of auto-watch, as well as sit, stay, down, wait and come. We discovered soon enough though, that our greatest challenge would be to help Shelby overcome her fear-based aggression and cultivate acceptable canine social skills. Using Joellen’s highly effective and humane training techniques, Shelby has come a long way in 18-months and we couldn’t be more pleased with her progress.
It was also apparent that exercise had not been a part of Shelby’s life. She quickly tired, and for a Sheltie, she was clumsy and awkward to the point of being laughable. So to help build up her confidence and skills, we enrolled Shelby in agility classes with Joellen. She loved the games and became proficient in her practice, but we were convinced that Shelby’s on-leash dog/dog aggression would preclude her from ever entering an actual competition. Wrong! With Joellen’s constant advice, support and training, Shelby participated in her first agility event In January 2010 and received a “Q” (indicating a Clean Run) for her efforts. With Shelby it wasn’t about successfully navigating the agility course (we knew she could navigate the obstacles) it was requiring that she focus on the task and overcome her fear of the other 100 or so dogs involved in the competition.
Shortly after adopting Shelby, we were enlisted by NorCal Sheltie Rescue to assist in fostering dogs that are relinquished to the organization. Many of these rescues come to us with little or no training or with behavioral problems that need to be managed and modified. Joellen has been extremely helpful with several of our foster Shelties – performing temperament assessments and offering her expertise and support on all levels of their rehabilitation. Our organization has been particularly impressed with Joellen’s proficiency and her willingness to assist our organization. Other volunteers within our organization frequently ask “what would Joellen recommend?” when discussing behavioral problems related to our foster dogs.
And finally, I need to mention Basie, our other Sheltie. During our very first meeting Joellen suggested we try him out on some of her agility equipment to see if he was interested in ‘playing’ the game. Today Basie is competing quite successfully in the sport and recently qualified for the 2010 USDAA Nationals! Joellen’s capable and patient training practice started Basie on the road to his successes in the sport and gave us the skills to become capable and competent handlers.
We are very lucky to have Joellen Burton as our trainer and friend, and are pleased to recommend her to you.
Dianne and Tom Garcia – Basie(RIP) and Shelby 2008 - present
We started out with private sessions for our five-month old Doberman, Maxwell, in order to get specific recommendations on house-training and essential commands. We then went through two sessions of group puppy classes. We could not be more happy with the outcome. Being a Doberman, we wanted Maxwell to be extremely well behaved--and now he is. Joellen's training is excellent; easy to follow and to practice. We found that regular sessions helped us remember the training procedures. Joellen's environment with other animals is a terrific bonus for letting Maxwell interact with animals early so they don't freak him out later on. We will continue to train with Joellen and heartily recommend Joellen's training.
Lee Boyack and Ken McCauley and Maxwell 2009 - present Sebastopol, CA