Featured Mentor Trainers

Ready to get hands-on with dogs? We have an extensive network of Mentor Trainers available across the United States and in Canada, who specialize in modern, science-based, positive reinforcement dog training. At CATCH, our students learn from the best, and we will pair you with a local Mentor Trainer throughout your studies so you can apply what you’re learning when it matters most – while you’re learning it.

Check out some featured members of the CATCH Mentor Team!

Yuching beside her partner, Bailey, who holds a list of accomplishments that are nearly as impressive as his adopter! His titles include Expert Trick Dog, Good Canine Citizen, NW1, and Trick Dog Performer.


Owner, K9 Learning., San Anselmo, CA

About Yuching:
Yuching is accredited through twelve organizations, and affiliated with five, renowned agencies. With the American Kennel Club, she is an AKC Trick Evaluator and AKC ATT Judge. She is also a Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, National Association of Canine Scent Work, Pet Professional Guild, and The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

What inspired you to become a professional dog trainer?
When I adopted my fear-aggressive dog 11 years ago, I didn’t know anything about dog training. To better help him and myself, I started to learn everything about dog behaviors. After volunteering at a local shelter for 5 years, I started to see how important it was to educate pet-dog owners with accurate canine knowledge as well as to encourage them to employ a positive reinforcement approach in training their dogs. That led to me to study further in dog training and become a professional dog trainer.

What do you love about mentoring CATCH students?
I enjoy mentoring these inquisitive minds from CATCH students. They all have shown great commitment to their CATCH program and a dedication to better the dog training world. By providing mentorship to these students, not only do I get to share my experiences and knowledge in dog behaviors and training approaches, I also get to see how they develop their own critical thinking skills and prepare them for “problem-solving on the spot” skills. These are important skills that will benefit them when they start taking their own training clients.

How do you keep training fun for you and for your clients?
Fun is the essence of my training philosophy. With my specialty in fearful dogs, it’s important to assess the stress level in any interaction. I teach clients to recognize the stress in their dogs as well as in themselves. I show clients how to have fun with their dogs via tricks, nosework as well as play with their dogs. I make sure my clients are engaging with me by keeping the training time short with mini breaks. I sometimes present small challenges like a mini project to make the learning fun for the humans. I also use a positive reinforcement method with clients by giving out little gifts to clients who show nice engagement and commitment in training.

Erika with her Staffordshire Terrier, Jade and Chihuahua, Freddie.

Erika Gonzalez, CCDT

Founder and Head TrainerFrom Dusk Till Dog, LLC, Mantua, NJ

About Erika:
Erika is a Certified Dog Trainer (CCDT) and Behavior Specialist, and a graduate and Mentor Trainer of CATCH. She is also a Canine Training Professional of The Pet Professional Guild and is a Licensed Pet Dog Ambassador Instructor and Assessor through them as well.

Erika’s graduated West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. After college, she had many successes working in the corporate world for several years before finally deciding to pursue her career as a professional dog trainer.

Erika believes that continued education is not an option, but a necessity for those in the dog training profession. Erika devotes herself to staying up on the latest advancements in dog training and behavior, and focuses her training on what science proves is the best way for dogs to learn. That is one of the many reasons why her training style revolves around positive reinforcement methods, along with a dedication to force-free and fear-free training techniques.

What do you love about mentoring CATCH students?
Knowing that I’m making a difference not only in the lives of our clients but in the lives of up and coming professional dog trainers. It’s wonderful to be able to guide others and show students the benefits of positive reinforcement training.

How do you keep training fun for you and for your clients?
One thing I always remind myself (and students) to do is to treat our clients like we do dogs – making sure to understand what motivates them and keeping the training fun, rewarding, easy to follow, and allowing for moments to be goofy and have a laugh!

Jeff’s mentees are thrilled: “This has been a tremendous experience! Even better is not only Jeff’s long history of experience with behavior and training but also the environment of the shelter has been an incredible classroom.”

Jeff Joyce, CPDT-KA, ASB-PM

Owner, A Sound Beginning Program Southwest Florida Div., Englewood, FL

About Jeff:
Jeff is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant and program manager for A Sound Beginning Program. He has been around a variety of animals from a very young age. Many summers were spent working and learning on his families’ farms in Tennessee. He also mentored with a former champion jockey and expert horseman who rescued track horses scheduled to be euthanized, providing them a home for the remainder of their lives. In addition, he mentored with a breeder/trainer learning the development of young dogs, canine/human interaction and communication. These were all valuable life lessons that were learned at an early age and remain today as core values when caring for, communicating with, and learning from animals and humans alike.

Teaching and training is both a science and an art. Understanding the science behind training is important but the timing and application of it is crucial to the overall process. Everything starts with forming a relationship, then blossoms into understanding and learning for both humans and canines. Jeff believes in simple guiding principles and a teaching philosophy based on four pillars of relationship bonding: Motivation, Communication, Mutual Trust and Mutual Respect. The experience between the human and canine working and learning together will create, strengthen and maintain a bond for a lifetime.

What do you love about mentoring CATCH students?
The students come well prepared and eager to learn. It is a wonderful experience to partner with them and help them meet their goals. The transformation of the student becoming a trainer is fabulous to watch. Helping them take the classroom information and relate it to real-time training of dogs is the objective. However, when the “light bulbs” come on it is the most fascinating part, from both the student’s and dog’s perspective.

How do you keep training fun for you and for your clients?
Games, narrating canine body language and creating analogies to help the humans understand life from the canine’s perspective. I make it a point with each customer, whether class or private training, they are individuals and their learning will occur at their own pace. I also remind everyone that their dog should be given the same respect and let them learn at their own pace.

Not only a Mentor, Ginger is a CATCH Grad and a Certified Service Dog Coach specializing in Psychiatric dogs (PTSD), Diabetic dogs and Hearing dogs.

Ginger Hetrick, CCDT, SDC

OwnerPawsitively Obedient, Columbia, SC

About Ginger:
Here at Pawsitively Obedient, we feel that education is important. Ginger went back to school and received her certifications in canine obedience and behavior from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy. Not only does she train dogs but she also teaches aspiring dog trainers as a CATCH Official Mentor Trainer. She later became a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator with The American Kennel Club and trains as well as evaluates for the AKC CGC program. Ginger was also recognized and published by Blue Buffalo as their Highlight Trainer in 2016. More recently Ginger headed back to school to gain her education and certification in Service Dog Training as an SDC with Cooperative Paws in 2018.

Working with our clients in their homes is something we approach professionally and with much respect.

Y’all know that being in the south, good ole southern hospitality is a must and we will be waving at your neighbors in your neighborhood and we may even have a friendly neighborhood walk when teaching little Rover to walk nicely on leash.  So have your sweet tea and training treats ready and we will greet you with a big ole Pawsitively Obedient, South Carolina smile!

What inspired you to become a professional dog trainer?
What inspired me to become a professional dog trainer was my desire to make a positive difference in my community. In my world, there is a strong presence of aversive training methods and tools used to train not only pet dogs, but in rescues, shelters and service dogs as well. To give a positive, fear free option to those looking for a more humane way to teach their furry family member.

What do you love about mentoring CATCH students?
What I love about Mentoring CATCH Students is giving back to the amazing program that gave me so much! Sharing my knowledge and education with aspiring trainers gives me yet another opportunity to make a difference in other communities. We need more positive, educated trainers and being a part of that is PRICELESS!

How do you keep training fun for you and for your clients?
I keep training fun for myself and my clients by being a Teacher not a Drill Sergeant. I praise not point fingers. We take time for puppy play breaks and fun teaching new tricks just because.

Dee is a CATCH Mentor Trainer and also teaches our 1-Week Workshops in Miami, FL.


OwnerApplause Your Paws, Miami, FL

Dee is a professional dog trainer currently leading her dream career as CEO of Applause Your Paws, Inc., Miami’s largest privately owned reward-based dog training company. Dee earned a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Miami, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), is Miami’s only licensed Family Paws educator, a certified trick dog training instructor, as well as an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Evaluator.

Dee is also the founder of the APDT’s Networking Group in South Florida, Miami Dade Animal Service’s ”go to” professional for canine evaluations and volunteer training, and founder of Miami-Dade County’s Second Chance Dog Training Program (a “puppies behind bars” program with Miami-Dade County Corrections). Dee has also served on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association & Foundation as well as the Board of Trustees for the national Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

What inspired you to become a professional dog trainer?
After I graduated college I really wanted a career that could combine my passion for education and animals. Professional dog training was the best fit because it has allowed me to become a teacher of humans, while still enjoying the companionship of dogs who have always been a big part of my life.

What do you love about mentoring CATCH students?
I love empowering those interested in our industry to learn as much as they can so they can help more people through professional dog training.

Caryl-Rose and her English Bulldog, Rover. Photo courtesy of Gatsby Dog Photography.

Caryl-Rose Pofcher

OwnerMy Dog, LLC, Amherst, MA

About Caryl-Rose:
Caryl-Rose’s educational background includes Certification with Honors in Behavior Adjustment Training (CBATI), a Masters of Education, and a Certificate of Graduation from Dogs of Course Instructor Training Course. Additionally, she is an Evaluator for the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Program, an Evaluator for the Association of Professional Dog Trainer’s Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.) program, a full registered member in The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and a founding member of the Northeast Dog Trainer Posse.

A Word From Caryl-Rose:
Training our dogs using positive methods is intrinsically fun for dog and human — that’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?! It’s fun, it’s effective, it creates communication pathways (in BOTH directions) and so it enhances the bond between us and our dogs.

Seeing this happen (and it’s quite visible when it’s present) nourishes not only the family and their dog but it nourishes the trainer too! If it were just about robotically teaching sit, down, come, walk nicely on leash and don’t jump on people — well, as you can imagine, that could get stale pretty quickly. But it’s about so much more! It’s building behaviors and habits from both sides of the leash that enrich and enlarge lives. It’s about turning problems into opportunities to understand and make useful changes in ways and with outcomes that satisfy both ends of the leash. It’s about enhancing understanding and communication and once those are in place, the sky’s the limit!

Do we always fully achieve every desired goal? No. Life rarely works that way. However, I’ve never worked with a dog or a client/dog team where we haven’t made progress and behavioral adjustments. Dogs are living beings and therefore aren’t simple mechanical constructions. The rules of scientific learning theory apply — experience and “chops” (the effective, artful application of the science) are what make some trainers and owners stand out.

I value the opportunity to help shape future trainers, open their awareness and experience to practical application of the theory they’ve learned.

Ferdie is a CATCH Mentor Trainer and also teaches our 1-Week Workshops at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ.

Ferdie Yau, CPDT-KA

OwnerSits and Wiggles, New York, NY

About Ferdie:
Ferdie’s varied background includes studying jaguar in a Belizean rainforest, working to clean and restore wildlife in the Bronx River (as a biologist for the City of New York), and training a wide variety of animals including polar bears, penguins, sea lions, harbor seals, foxes, and primates at the Central Park Zoo. Ferdie has an MA in Conservation Biology from Columbia University and is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). In 2011, Ferdie started his own business, Sits & Wiggles Dog Training in New York City. Staying true to his passion for wildlife, Ferdie also works with the Gotham Coyote Project to train dogs to detect Eastern coyote scat in New York City and Long Island in order to collect DNA for research on these fascinating animals.

What inspired you to become a professional dog trainer?
It’s sad to say this, but I just see a real lack of understanding and empathy towards companion animals in our lives. I see many dogs that are doing OK and surviving, but it’s rare to see people who truly place their dog’s emotional and physical well-being as the top priority. I want to help people understand that with a little more effort, they can really help their dogs thrive rather than just be happy enough. In some cases, there are dogs that are really suffering and their humans are simply at a loss when it comes to understanding their emotions and needs. I want to help people understand that we can do better as a society in the way we treat animals, and hopefully that will help us understand how we can treat each other better as well.

What do you love about mentoring CATCH students?
I love helping them understand that there is more to training than simply teaching sit, down, come, and stay. It’s incredibly satisfying when I see that light bulb moment occur when a student realizes that really good trainers are not focused on simply getting results. The relationship that is developed between human and canine through the training process is actually much more important in the long-run to help humans and their dogs be successful and happy together for a lifetime.

Diana is a CATCH Mentor Trainer and also teaches our 1-Week Workshops in Austin, TX

Diana Smith, CPDT-KA

OwnerHearts and Paws, Austin, TX

About Diana:
Diana Smith is the owner of Austin’s Hearts and Paws training center, the founder of Pup Kids and Dogs Camp, and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with over 25 years of experience. She has over 2,000 hours of study with some of the world’s leading dog behaviorists including Dr. Ian Dunbar, John Fisher, and John Rogerson.

On the public service side, Diana has worked with local animal shelters and rescue groups to train volunteers on temperament testing and behavior management. Most notable of these is the Austin Humane Society’s Behavior Rehoming Adoption Training Team (BRATT) which is still being used today. Diana also developed Club Pup Kids and Dogs Camp – the largest and longest running (14 years) kids with dogs camp nationwide. Diana is also a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Evaluator and a charter member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), the largest international body of dog trainers and a leading organization in the industry for continuing education.

What do you love about mentoring CATCH students?
I enjoy mentoring CATCH Students because the program lays a lot of sound foundation in learning theory and behavior (as well as eventually business practices). The methodology is based on effective reward-based systems. I love teaching the hands-on workshops as I believe it puts literally months of handling/observational practice into place in 5 days.

How do you keep training fun for you and for your clients?
One way is having classes and private lessons focused on doing more than just watching/listening. Also, keeping a personal dog in a training loop of skills such as agility/tricks keeps me aware of how it feels to impart new skills. This reminds me not to take the learning process for granted on the dogs’ or peoples’ side. Staying on the cutting edge of new practices and discoveries through seminars, especially the APDT yearly conference, is a continued way to learn and grow, and another interest that helps me really stay tuned up is taking improv classes a few times a year.

Katie is a CATCH Mentor Trainer, and she is passionate about promoting human-canine relationships.

Katie Costello, RVT, CPDT-KA

OwnerThe Canine Campus, Hubbard, OH

About Katie:
Katie started by working at Animal Charity in Youngstown at age 16. This experience, where she went from receptionist to wildlife rehabilitator, to groomer, ultimately inspired her to become a licensed veterinary technician. She continued to perform technician duties for 15 years while teaching training classes at other peoples’ businesses before pursuing her dream to focus solely on dog behavior.

Katie  is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Registered Veterinary Technician, Delta Society Pet Partner Licensed Evaluator, and Reiki master.  Katie is also the founder of the group K-9’s for Compassion, a therapy animal group, which propels her love of animal behavior through the amazing stories she witnesses with the human-animal bond while visiting people with her own dogs.

Katie has published articles in magazines such as Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy, Dog World, Animal Wellness, Veterinary Technician, and has been recognized nationally for her writing.

What do you love about mentoring CATCH students?
I love to watch the “aha” moments where they hear something about training a little differently. OR they understand it in a little bit more depth, OR best yet! They have a dog that teaches them something that they had learned and forgot. I am really passionate about this career and just really love to help others along their path!

How do you keep training fun for you and for your clients?
I play a lot of games. I laugh a lot, and I use a LOT of examples that they can understand. It is fun! They are building a stronger bond between them and their dogs! What could be better?

Barbara Johnson’s motto is: Catch your dog doing something good!

Barbara Johnson, CPDT-KSA, ACDBC

OwnerBJK9’s Positive Dog Behavior Training, Thousand Oaks, CA

About Barbara:
Barbara began her career in canine training and behavior in 2003. In 2007, she tested and obtained her CPDT-KA. In 2011, she became one of the first trainers in the country to earn the CPDT-KSA designation. Barbara takes her education quite seriously by attending many conferences and seminars so that she is able to learn the newest information for her clients. She works closely with several veterinarians to help her clients in any possible way.

Barbara is a positive reinforcement trainer, but she refers to herself as a “relationship-based trainer”. Her training goal for her clients is to develop a relationship with their canine companion based on mutual respect and trust, not fear and intimidation. Her motto is “Catch Your Dog Doing Something Good”, which means … praise the positive behaviors that your dogs put forth. Start paying attention to the good things your dog does … and you will see how quickly your relationship will change.

A Word From Barbara:
I have been a trainer for the last 16 years after a medical career. We brought an Australian Shepherd into our family and thought that getting a trainer would be a good idea. That trainer saw something in me and encouraged me to pursue a career in training and behavior. Every student from CATCH that I have mentored has come to me very prepared for the real world. I love mentoring because someone saw the talent in me, and I work with CATCH students to help them see their talents. I do believe that CATCH attracts a student with a serious thirst for knowledge and holds their students accountable.

How do you keep training fun for you and for your clients?
A positive attitude!! The humans are 90% of the success rate of dog training. I love meeting new people and sharing experiences that we all have with our dogs. I also attend seminars and conferences to continue learning all of the new and interesting information. Keeping myself up to date translates into happier clients and the vets that refer them to me. I concentrate most of the business on behavior, so when a client asks about agility, herding, flyball, etc, I make sure to refer them to other trainers in the area that I know. We cannot be everything to every client, so knowing when to share clients, it is to the utmost benefit of the dog.

Meet More Mentor Trainers

CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Office Headquarters
24 Newark Pompton Turnpike Suite 206, Little Falls, NJ.
Phone: 877-752-2824