The training instructors at Especially for Pets base their classes on positive reinforcement and motivational techniques which makes training fun for both you and your dog. This creates a much happier and more willing dog who will bond more easily with his family. The goal of our instructors is to enable owners to develop a deeper understanding and stronger relationship with their dog. They emphasize communication as the key to successful training. Their training methods along with their vast experience will provide you and your dog with a rewarding learning experience.

Our staff is comprised of experienced instructors who are well respected in their field. All of our instructors are certified by The American Kennel Club as S.T.A.R. Puppy and Canine Good Citizen.

Angels Nickerson, Trainer

Angela serves as the Intake/Adoption Coordinator for Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue and is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She has been a Board member and officer for over ten years with The New England Federation of Humane Societies. She is a member of the Especially for Pets Dog Training Academy Development Team and teaches in Sudbury.

Gail McCarthy, Trainer

Gail has been training detection dogs since 1992. She is the Training Director for the Massachusetts Rescue & Recovery K9 Unit and is the Chairperson of, and a Canine Evaluator with, the Massachusetts State Search and Rescue Federation. Gail is also a Canine Handler with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue, Massachusetts Task Force 1 as well as FEMA Disaster Dog Evaluator. She is also a NACSW Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) and a NACSW Trial Judge. At the Official Nose Work Trial held this 2012 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, seven of the canine teams that titled NW2 were students with whom Gail worked. Additionally, at the Official Nose Work Trial held in the fall of 2012 in Dighton, Massachusetts, the highest placed NW1 winner was a student with whom Gail worked and the second highest placed NW2 winner was also a student. For a listing of her other students’ successes in K9 Nose Work™, go to Gail’s website. Gail teaches K9 Nose Work in Sudbury.

Janice Ritter, Trainer

Janice has been training dogs as great family pets and as serious competition participants for over 20 years. She co-founded German Shepherd Rescue of New England, Inc. (GSRNE) and also ran their foster home program, helping foster homes and adoptive homes integrate their new dogs into their households, for over a decade. She fully understands rescue dog issues! She is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator,  and has been quoted as an expert in magazine articles. With that experience, plus years of teaching classes and doing behavior consults,  Janice has positive-based, practical solutions for behavior issues to offer the busy pet owner and family. Janice also enjoys competitive dog sports. She has qualified for national level competition with her dogs in Competition Obedience, Rally and IPO multiple times. She and her German shepherds and Belgian Malinois and have won or placed in most of the competitions they have entered, and have earned Championships and/or advanced titles in all the sports they play in! Her students are doing well in competition, as well.  She is currently competing with her two Belgian Malinois in Competition Obedience, Agility, Rally, and Nosework (scent detection).  Janice teaches in Sudbury, Wayland, and Acton.

Marita Everhart, Trainer

Marita is a certified AKC CGC® Approved Evaluator and has worked with dogs in various capacities for over 13 years. She grew up with German Shepherds and is currently excitedly awaiting a new Australian Shepherd puppy with whom she plans to compete in agility and canine freestyle. Marita focuses on positive reinforcement training and loves to problem-solve and help owners better communicate with their canine companions. Marita teaches in Medway, Newton, Wayland and Westborough.

Christine Macdonald, Trainer

Christine believes that training is the necessary foundation to a lifelong relationship with one’s dog. It helps strengthen the bond between families and their canine. Christine’s passion is sharing the positive, therapeutic qualities a pet can have on human life. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Pets and People Foundation and is involved in demonstrating Therapy Dog techniques for prospective volunteers. Christine also serves as Secretary and Administrative Assistant. In 2007, The Pets and People Foundation honored Christine with the Lollipop Award for outstanding service. Christine, her three therapy dogs and one retired therapy cat that have made over 375 Pet Therapy visits. In her free time, Christine enjoys working her dogs in agility and freestyle. She believes in consistency and patience in training and believes that training your dog should be fun. Christine feels it is very rewarding to see an owner and a dog bond during her classes. She currently owns an adopted mixed breed and two adopted Standard Poodles. Christine teaches in Acton and Westborough.

Ibis Ballester, Trainer

Ibis Ballester began training her yellow Labrador Retriever at the age of 11. At the age of 13, her family moved from Puerto Rico to Florida and she met certified dog trainer and TTouch practitioner, Karin Vermeegen. Ibis assisted her in group classes, private sessions and workshops until she began teaching her own classes at the age of 16. Additionally, Ibis taught at a children’s summer camp dedicated to dog training. Ibis is also a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and has been involved in training and competing with her dogs in agility, rally obedience and other dog sports. Ibis continues to attend professional development opportunities to stay up to date with the latest dog training methods. She strongly believes that the key to having a reliable dog is by building and establishing trust between owner and dog. Thus, her methods of training are effective, humane, and science-based. She primarily focuses on positive based training. She is very skilled at creating a safe learning environment for both humans and canines and is always eager to make any accommodations and modifications necessary for her students to get the most out of class.Ibis also has a degree in special education and human development from the University of Miami.

Katie Bates, Trainer

Katie has worked in the animal care field since she was 15 years old. She studied animal science at Essex Agricultural High School and then attended North Shore Community College; she graduated with a degree as an Animal Care Specialist. Katie has been a professional dog groomer since 2000 and has been a dog trainer since 2011. She is an AKC approved CGC and S.T.A.R. evaluator and is certified in canine CPR and first aid by the Red Cross. She is also in the breeding and dog show world as she has two show boxers that she adores. She also has a terrier mix and tabby cat with whom she shares her love. Katie is a Day School instructor in Sudbury and also teaches group classes in Wayland.

Samantha King, Trainer