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About Us

Get to know our cast of characters

Valerie Balwanz

CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, PMCT

Owner, Behavior Consultant, Lead Trainer

Valerie is certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers as both a Certified Behavior Consultant Canine (CBCC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). She is a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT) and also holds a certification from the Peaceable Paws Academy (PMCT). She is a member of the Pet Professionals Guild, an organization of force-free training professionals. Valerie is a certified CGC tester for the AKC.

 

Her training services have received the Charlottesville Family Favorite Award and the Daily Progress Reader's Choice Award several years in a row. She has been featured in The Whole Dog Journal and Reader's Digest.

 

Many of the area's veterinarians recommend her services and bring their own dogs to her for training and behavior modification.

 

Valerie has been training dogs since 2009. She moved into her current facility on Harris Street in Charlottesville in 2020. Valerie says:

Training is not something that is done to the dog.  Training occurs between the human and the dog.  Training is something that alters the Dog-Human relationship. It facilitates communication and strengthens understanding between two species.

She lives with her husband and eight children. Seven of her children have tails and of those seven, four have hooves.

 

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Three of the Four Goats

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My Girls, 2018

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Tulip, our most recent addition

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Lu Shannon

KPA-CTP

Trainer

Lu started fostering dogs in 2010, working to rehabilitate and match dogs with new homes. She began her formal training in 2018 at Rudy’s Friends Dog Training in Fairfax, VA, and then entered into WOOF’s Dog Training Center’s apprentice program, co-teaching Puppy Kindergarten and monitoring puppy play sessions. Upon moving to Charlottesville in 2019, she pursued Valerie for three years, asking to work for her. Valerie finally relented and hired Lu in 2022. Lu attained Karen Pryer Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP) status in 2023. She lives with her husband and two herding dog mixes and enjoys teaching tricks, freestyle, and competing in Rally. She also loves hatching little baby chicks and has 25 to 30 chickens living in her front yard. Her dog, Buki, watches over them, and the other dog, Mickey, eats the eggs. It is a family operation.

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Caiti White

KPA-CTP

Trainer

Caiti started working with dogs at a boarding and daycare facility in 2016. Working with the dogs gave her so much joy she decided to pursue dog training and earned her KPA-CTP in 2021. One of her favorite things about dog training is helping owners build better relationships with their pups through training and an understanding of the unique pup they have. In her free time she enjoys spending time outside with her golden retriever Daffodil. 

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David Balwanz

Administrative Assistant and Hygiene Technician

David is the behind-the-scenes guy who keeps this business running smoothly. David's efforts are why the facility is always so clean. He spends roughly 3 hours a day hand vacuuming and mopping every square inch to ensure a safe and sanitary environement. Additionally he handles all aspects of administrative work. He has recently started supervising Forest Friday events, an outdoor adventure for dogs that has been in the trial phase for 2 years and is about to go public! David holds a BS in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. His years of experience in food service give him a unique insight into sanitation. David assures us that when he is finished cleaning the floor, we could safely eat off of it. Thank you, David, but we'll let the dogs do that for now.

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