Susan Smith, Owner & Primary Instructor for Become a Professional Dog Trainer 

As a dog trainer and behavior consultant, Susan Smith looks at the places where dog behavior and human lifestyle, love of dogs and conducting business meet most often:

  • business in general
  • client compliance in particular
  • current trends
  • theory and practical application
  • time management
  • planning and goals

Through her emphasis on professionalism and fascination with behavior, she provides clients with a comprehensive but incisive review of contemporary dog training, its foundations, current state and future trends – and strategies for working in the field.

Susan is the co-author of Positive Gun Dogs: Clicker Training for Sporting Breeds, the first book published in the United States advocating positive methods for training bird dogs. She is the author of many articles including Starting Your Own Dog Training Business and When to Ask for Help, which were published in the Association of Pet Dog Trainers’ The Dog Trainer’s Resource: The APDT Chronicle of the Dog Collection. She is a contributing author of the book “Top Tips from Top Trainers.” She has authored many other articles and book reviews, and is also the author of a column on learning and behavior for the APDT Chronicle of the Dog.


  • CPDT-KA from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers;
  • CDBC from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants; and
  • CTC from the San Francisco SPCA.

Affiliations & Commendations

  • Current List Manager for the APDTlist;
  • Former Membership Coordinator for the IAABC;
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers;
  • Past Chair of the APDT Member Relations and Communications Committee;
  • Past committee member for the APDT Member Relations and Communications Committee; and
  • Past member of the APDT Sponsorship Committee.
  • 2004 APDT Member of the Year
  • 2009 DWAA (Dog Writers of America Award) Nominee for “A Learning Theory Primer” (APDT Chronicle of the Dog) in category “Magazine: subject related series”

Susan was born and raised in Alaska. At age 29, she decided it was time to experience the rest of the U.S., so she moved to Texas and opened a Mail Boxes Etc., USA franchise in Austin, Texas. The MBE store gave Susan a good, practical education in running a business.

In the early ‘90s, Susan decided it was time to do something else, so she began exploring her options. She had three criteria: ability to make a comfortable income, flexibility of scheduling and a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment within her work. She was able to eliminate most of the list she came up with through the “enjoyment” factor; however, dog training met all her criteria.

She began apprenticing, reading and training. By 1996 she had sold her business and was building her animal consulting business.

In 2002 she moved to upstate New York to start a sanctuary for unadoptable dogs for the Animal Haven shelter in Queens. Animal Haven had purchased a 30 acre farm and the goal was for the dogs to live in the house with a lifestyle as close to “normal” as possible with aggressive dogs.

After three years, during which she got the sanctuary up and running, Susan decided to return to Austin and started thinking about what she wanted to do when she returned. She began consulting with a business coach, defined her criteria and began thinking about what she wanted to accomplish. She came to the conclusion that she wanted to maintain her original three criteria (comfortable income, flexibility and enjoyment), and added the criteria of helping her chosen field become a viable and respected profession.

This led Susan and Raising Canine to provide remote, science-based training, consulting and business education to trainers, as well as providing a variety of products and services to help trainers more efficiently run their business.>>