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Over my 25 years as a dog training professional, my mission is training for a dog’s lifelong well-being and to enrich the lives dogs through owner education; to make a difference in the lives of dogs, their families and to mentor the trainers who help them. My goal is to teach people that behaviors are interactive, attention and relaxation are key, and training begins by recognizing the way each person interacts with their dog.
I began training shelter dogs in 1995 and owned and operated My Best Friend Training and Behavior Programs for 15 years. I've taught over a thousand group classes and worked with hundreds of private clients with dogs of all breeds and mixes, using force-free behavior modification, lure & reward training and following the principles of classical and operant conditioning. I’ve worked extensively with puppies, adolescent & rescue dogs and reactive/rowdy dogs. Developing a healthy canine mind is integral in my training.
I’ve frequently attended Educational Conferences as well as numerous behavior seminars which include: Dr. Ian Dunbar Sex & Aggression, Dr. Nicholas Dodman Canine Behavior, Dr. Karen Overall Aggression in Training, Dr. Ray Coppinger Canine Behavior, Jean Donaldson Fear & Aggression, Dr. Katherine Haupt Cornell University Solving Canine Behavior Problems, Tufts University Animal Behavior Expo, Karen Pryor Advanced Clicker Training Workshop, Instructor Training Course/Rondout Valley Kennels and Sue Sternberg Shelter Dog Assessment Seminar.
After owning a successful training business (during which time I worked closely with veterinarians), I was hired by Petsmart in 2003 to start up their training program and train new trainers for their upstate New York expansion. I conducted an unprecedented, extensive training session for 10 trainers using dogs from our local shelter to gauge their training ability. This was a pass/fail program. Because of my high success rate, my classes were recorded for the corporate office to review and incorporate my training style on a national level.
I served as president of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers from 2004 – 2006 as well as on the Board of Directors of the Mohawk Valley Business Women’s Network and the Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind. I have written articles for various publications. In 2003, I conducted a “How to Control Your Uncontrollable Dog” seminar for Mohawk Valley Community College summer adult education series. I was an instructor at the Brevard County Dog Training Club for 2 years and I completed my term as President in February 2017. In 2017 I established Canine Brains and Games, LLC to continue my mission to educate owners and teach them how to train their dogs.
I am a long-standing member of the Samoyed Club of America and during the 10 years we lived in NY, I assisted the Minuteman Samoyed Club Rescue. I've owned 3 rescue Samoyeds, 1 shelter "pound puppy", and 2 "farm" puppies (one a border collie & one a Samoyed) before being introduced to the world of conformation; after which I've whelped and raised a litter of puppies. My husband and I now have a family of 4 Samoyeds. I’m a Canine Good Citizen & Trick Dog Evaluator; my therapy dogs are registered with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and I’m a therapy dog tester for the organization. I’m also an evaluator for the Foundation for Service Dog Support. As a Community Educator and with my Therapy Dogs, I conduct bite prevention programs for local elementary schools, libraries and other organizations.
I have worked my own dogs in agility, obedience and conformation and lure coursing. My dogs are Canine Good Citizens and Therapy Dogs and have AKC Tricks and Rally titles. While I enjoy competing in AKC sports, the study of canine behavior continues to be my passion.
When I'm not working with dogs, I love to cook, I'm a master crocheter, I love sci-fi, and British crime dramas!
Canine Brains & Games, LLC, Owner and Program Developer
Contributor for Merritt Island Now Magazine
Behavior Specialist/Dog Training Instructor
AKC ATT Evaluator
AKC Canine Good Citizen/Tricks Evaluator
Animal Behavior College Mentor
Alliance of Therapy Dogs Tester/Observer
Foundation for Service Dog Support Evaluator
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Certified Life Coach Practitioner
Certified Color Therapist
Nicholas Vincent is a day training specialist at Canine Brains and Games LLC.
At the age of 16, Nicholas started volunteering with many dog inclusive programs: He volunteered as a handler with a K-9 rescue response group in the kennels and on the training field, and he's volunteered as a training assistant with Vic’s who has teamed up Valor medical service dogs. In the last 5 years, he has taken a particular interest in training dogs, not only for helping the owners, but for the well-being and enrichment for the dogs themselves. A large amount of pride lies in one of his own dogs Oscar that he was able to train as a licensed Psychiatric Service Dog for his anxiety.
All of Nicholas’s dogs have been surrendered by their previous owners due to being “bad dogs.” Nicholas’s goal is to raise the standards in owning and training dogs, as he advocates for and utilizes positive reinforcement, clicker, and relationship based training which strengthens the bond between owner and dog. This also holds the benefit of providing necessary enrichment for our canine companions.
Nicholas’ love for animals doesn’t stop at our furry canine companions. He has rehabilitated two ball pythons and adopted them out to loving reptile homes. On the day before his first big move with his significant other, kittens were found abandoned in a junk car by the mother. Despite the stress of moving and the already long day, he drove first thing to PetSmart to get all the essentials and he rehabilitated them back to health and has them to this day. Due to this, he decided to work with BCSO Animal Services to help with the protection of wild cat colonies and help educate exotic animal owners on the responsibility and husbandry of many different species.
Alongside the advocating for animal, Nicholas has also been involved in the fight for human rights as he held a voice in the Human Rights Campaign for the LGBT community while he was volunteering for the better well-being of dogs. He now happily resides with his partner along side his four-legged family with the goal to advocate for his primary, yet simple ethical principal: there are no such thing as bad dogs; there are untrained dogs, misunderstood dogs, and dogs who may not be mentally sound, but that doesn't make them "bad" dogs.
After working with us for a year, Disney Cruises ended their furlough and Becky returned to her job of working for Disney Cruises at Port Canaveral. Even though she isn't working every day, you'll see her on Tuesdays and helping on other days when she's not working at the Port!
Becky Pollock is a day school Training Specialist at Canine Brains and Games (CBG). She is a veteran of the US Army where she served as an Interrogator and Spanish Linguist. Becky’s love of working with animals began when she was deployed to Kosovo during her military service. She developed a close working relationship with K9 handlers and their partners and eventually was afforded the rare opportunity to assist in the daily training of the K9s. This sparked a desire to work with dogs that has only grown stronger over time. Volunteering at her local shelter, researching online, and attending classes with her own dogs expanded her knowledge have allowed her to develop crucial skills.
Becky is fascinated by the minds and behavior of dogs and enjoys the challenges and rewards that she has experienced working with them. She strongly believes that structure has an important role in the overall physical and mental health of dogs and training is the key to deepening and strengthening the bond between human and canine. Since starting at CBG, Becky has seen first hand the innumerable benefits of positive reinforcement and force free training methods. Her goal is to continue learning about dog behavior and become a certified trainer.
A mother of two teenagers and wife of 21 years, Becky is committed and dedicated to her family, spending countless hours cheering on her two favorite athletes at the baseball diamond or soccer field. Her hobbies include attending classes at her local gym and reading. She enjoys traveling and exploring new places, especially cold ones, where she hikes and train with her 7 year old German Shepherd, Jäger (Yay-ger).
After taking classes from Canine Brains and Games with her dog Cocoa, Nikki has enjoyed working part-time at the Enrichment Day School. She enjoys volunteering at events to help with sign-in and registration, such as Read to A Dog as well as puppy classes to gain more experience.
Her patience and good listening skills make her a popular dog walker and dog sitter for family and friends. Nikki has always loved animals and hopes to work toward becoming a certified dog trainer once she finishes High School.
Nikki is currently working with Cocoa in the hopes that he will be able to do therapy work. She very much appreciates her bond with Cocoa and believes training him is truly therapeutic. Nikki understands that changing a dog’s behavior takes time, energy, hard work and consistency in applying positive reinforcement training techniques.
From a very young age, Vanessa harbored a great love for dogs and a deep interest in animal behavior. Her passion led her to pursue a career in dog training, which she is ecstatically eager to perform and continue to learn more about as an assistant trainer.
I believe my enthusiasm for such work was sparked by my exposure to animals growing up. Although I may lack experience in a professional sense, my early years were spent caring for and training animals at my own leisure.
Coming from rural upstate New York, she is proficient in the strenuous tasks of farm work in which she nursed calves, milked cows, fed chickens and pigs, maintained their living quarters and was familiarized with animals of all types. In addition, her home was filled with cats, dogs, puppies, rabbits and bunnies—all of which taught her to be an attentive pet owner as all required love, nurture and as for my puppies—much training.
One key element she learned regarding dog behavior is that dogs are most responsive to reward-based training, as she observed such results in her own pets. Furthermore, one virtue her dogs have instilled in her is patience. In accordance with the positive reinforcement techniques she believes in, she remains patient and calm with her dogs, as frustration only serves to weaken an owner’s bond with their dog and provokes fear and negative results.
Today, she works with my dogs and uses such tools as clickers, treats and mostly praise all as effective rewards. Outside of work, she enjoys such creative pursuits as writing, reading, cooking and drawing. She's excited to finally pursue my passion for dog training professionally.
Pictured with Vanessa are: Juno, Marley, and Ringo
As an individual that lives with multiple chronic illnesses, I have always maintained an “I can do” mindset regardless of the obstacles and opportunities life presents to me. It is with this belief that I have persevered and overcome many of challenges and have continued to defy the odds of nature. Over the years I have continued pursuing the idea of living a healthier lifestyle and believing that I can make a positive impact in my life as well as others.
To continue increasing my healthy mindset, I choose to study at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. I attended many programs and became a Certified Wellness Educator in Perfect Health: Ayurvedic Lifestyle Program in August 2015. Having traveled to the Chopra Center multiple times I have attended courses such as: Journey into Healing, Seduction of Spirit (meditation & yoga retreat), Perfect Health 6-Day Program, Healing the Heart, Living in Balance, and participated in an on-site, week-long teacher certification training. Since learning about Ayurveda, a mind-body healing science, I have become passionate about living the principles I learned in addition to educating others.
In November 2018 I expanded my Ayurvedic awareness by completing a six-week online course entitled “Total Wellbeing for Dogs: The 6 Pillars of a Truly Balanced Canine.” I had the honor of working with Amanda Ree of Sama Dog, LLC (who developed this one of a kind course) whereby we applied the Ayurvedic principles not only to humans but dogs as well. It was an excellent learning opportunity to bridge the Ayurveda link between humans and their canine companions. While prior knowledge of Ayurveda was not required, as a dog owner & lover with an understanding of Ayurveda, it was a natural fit for me! Being able to learn Riley’s Dosha was beneficial for me to provide him the best environment for our livelihood and training.
I adopted Riley, dachshund/lab mix, in August 2016 and have since trained with him non-stop. In addition to working with him during the Sama Dog course, we have taken the following training classes: Puppy Kindergarten, Basic Obedience, Seek & Find, Basic Agility, and Canine Good Citizen & Canine Good Citizen Advanced (acquiring certification for both CGC & CGCA). With Riley, training became a passion for me to promote discipline and balance (for both of us) while spending time together and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Animals have always been near and dear to my heart. I am very passionate about them and even don’t mind the squirrels eating the bird food! I look forward to future training with Riley in addition to meeting new canine companions and their wonderful owners! My mission is to ensure each person (and dog) is able to live their best life while creating peace, harmony, and balance.
Additional courses: Sue Sternberg’s Sociability vs. Aggression in Dogs seminar, April 2018; Aggression and Dangers of Play Behaviors, September 2020.
Living Life Now, Inc., Owner & Co-Founder
Chopra Center Certified Perfect Health: Ayurveda Educator
Graduate of the Sama Dog Certificate Program