Hi, I’m Sandra, head and founder of The National Dog Training Academy (formerly AA Dog Training). Married to Mac, my children left home many years ago and I now have two grandchildren to keep me on my toes.
Mac and I officially live on an old Hovercraft on the Hamble, although we are currently renovating it and living in the New Forest with Rolo, a lively, Flat Coated Retriever and Tommy our Great Dane. Rolo is an amazing pet Gundog and my reason for becoming a dog trainer. He’s 13 now, so we’re letting him have an easy life.
Another dog that taught me so much was the lovely Doris, a rescue Great Dane, who was deaf and partially sighted. Sadly Doris died a few years ago but has left her legacy in everything she taught me and my team.
Tommy the Dane has been a real reminder for me, having a young puppy. I feel it has certainly improved my knowledge and understanding of puppy ownership. Some of my learnings have been extremely entertaining for the team.
I can’t believe how my life has changed since I decided to earn a living as a dog trainer. My only regret is that I didn’t have the courage to do it earlier.
Building The National Dog Training Academy has been so exciting and worthwhile. My team are amazing and we strive to be the very best we can, winning Best of Business 2017 & 2018, Best Dog Trainers in UK 2018/2019, Top 3 Southampton 2017 – 2020, every year. That’s just a few of them and we are very proud but that doesn’t stop us constantly trying to change and improve.
I have a real passion for training other people to become dog trainers and helping them to follow their dream. So if you feel that’s for you, get in touch for a chat and check out the information on our page.
I began working life as a State Registered Nurse, and moved very quickly into the voluntary sector as a health care professional where I completed an MSc. I had a short spell as vice Chair for a local Citizens Advice Bureau.
A brief overview of my experience includes, improving services, developing new services and projects, training medical and social care professionals, writing NVQ training materials and finally into senior management in the public sector.
My varied roles are too vast to mention. I loved most of the jobs I had, and met some amazing people, not least Dan, who lived with Huntington’s disease and people who had lost their speech through stroke. This was when I truly realised how valuable dogs are, as we took our dog, at the time, Suzy into nursing homes for visits and along to our stroke group meetings.
I now feel so lucky to be working with dogs and people combined, every day of my life and I want everyone to get the best out of the dog they have. All dogs are different and all have their own unique character. So lovely to watch and be involved in their lives.
It was in 2010, after some life changing events, and a puppy that was making me cry, (Rolo) I took my opportunity to take my dog training career seriously. I discovered Steve Mann and took two of his courses and a year-long mentorship.
When I set out on the road, it was lonely. It was scary. Very few people who were on my course ever achieved their dream. That’s why I am so passionate, not just about the training we do for dogs and handlers, but training and supporting others to become dog trainers.
Offering Train the Trainer courses seemed to be a great way to do just that at the same time as ensuring quality, professional and effective, dog and puppy training services are available far and wide across the UK.
Since my initial training I have undertaken many dog training courses, (too many to note here), had some amazing opportunities, including training with Phillipa Williams one of the gundog performers at Crufts and Richard Curtis who performs in Heelwork to Music at Crufts.
Amongst my portfolio is a Diploma in Canine Studies and a Professional Dog Instructors certificate through Cambridge Institute of Dog Training and Behaviour. Rolo and I gained our Working Gundog Certificate (on dummies). Continuing professional development is very important to me.
We, as a team regularly attend training workshops, conferences and seminars and are always looking for new ideas to improve our training methods. Our studies are not all about dogs, We feel it is very important to undertake adult learning training too. Being a dog trainer is very much about teaching people.
Here’s a video intro to me, Rolo and Tommy.
I’m Sharon – moved from Darlington to Hampshire in 2018 and started a full lifestyle change which included a change of career – love dogs and decided to do the Become a Dog Trainer course which introduced me to NDTA, loved it so much, I ended up working here.
I love all animals, the great outdoors, swimming, cricket and netball. My motto is from the great Yoda – do or do not, there is no try.
When Sharon came to join us in the office, as well as being a dog trainer, I think she took one look and thought, ‘what have I walked in to.’ We are fantastic dog trainers, but we knew we had many gaps in our admin, accounting, sales and marketing. Sharon came in and like a new broom, swept us all up and put us on track.
A real asset to the team, with her many skills and vast experience in management. She didn’t come along a day to soon and I’m delighted she has stayed on board as our General Manager and continues to keep that broom sweeping.
Sally has been a University lecturer in Southampton for nearly 30 years. During her career she specialised in the more educational and pastoral sides of the role, demonstrated by consistent positive feedback and numerous awards and positions of authority. As well as two Vice Chancellors Teaching Awards, she was awarded many student-voted Excellence in Teaching Awards for academic and pastoral support and feedback, sometimes involving taking her dogs into the university. These include the award for the lecturer offering the best academic support across the whole of the University of Southampton.
More recently Sally has taken a break from university teaching to combine her extensive educational experience, with her life-long love of dogs. Growing up, helping her mum breed Yorkies as family pets, she has never been without a dog or dogs. Dogs have been aside her in the ups and especially downs of life. Currently she has an older dog Jake, plus Bella (a beagle cross) and her son Billy (home bred) who are all active participants at the NDTA.
Sally’s role in the Train the Trainer course, as well as providing both 4 and 2 leg volunteers, is particularly focused on the student learning and teaching side. With extensive field teaching, as well as lecturing and small group experience to adult learners, the course will be adapted according to the backgrounds of participants. Practical tips and advice will be embedded within some basic theory about how we learn, remember and think. You will work through what makes an effective teacher (dog trainer) and apply these skills in the field in order to build your confidence, clarity and knowledge. As with the dog side of the course, on-going support will be available.
Hi I’m Tracey, I live in Southampton with my husband Kevin and our 3 gorgeous dogs. Tilly is staffy cross, Nevis is Jack Russell who proves that any dog can be a ‘gundog’, achieving his grade 1 & 2 Pet Gundog certificates, and Max is is a Lurcher/Collie cross.
I first came across AA Dog Training (now The National Dog Training Academy) in January 2015 when looking for puppy classes to take Max to and was so impressed on my 1st visit that I decided to sign him up for the puppy course. We haven’t looked back.
I decided one day that with all the fun and enjoyment we all get going along to classes that I wanted to give something back, so I approached Sandra and asked her if I could become a volunteer. To my delight she welcomed me on board.
I learned so much as a volunteer, being welcomed into the team and when an opportunity came up to become a trainee instructor I jumped at the chance. With further training and the teams mentoring, I became a fully qualified National Dog Training Instructor in the summer of 2017.
Since then I have progressed to be a Senior Instructor and the Team Leader. To me, this is the best job in the world and I’ve never been so happy in my workplace.
As all the team I continue to update my knowledge and skills with reading, attending seminars, conferences and our own team training sessions.
Naomi recently joined the team, at the end of 2020. Naomi has followed our training for many years. Her parents were some of my very early customers with their gorgeous springer, JD. Sadly JD died a few years ago, but they still have the lovely Flynn, also a springer.
I was very happy when Naomi booked to complete the Train the Trainer programme. With her many skills, enthusiasm and commitment, Naomi is a real asset to the team. Another, very supportive, younger energetic team member.
Naomi is the key team leader at our Fawley site, but she also works at Hedge End with us too.
Hi, I’m Bobby.
I’m a very happy, cheerful person, married with two amazing New Zealand Huntaway dogs. I love animals and have spent many years in the milk industry. Over the past couple of years I decided it was time to make a change and start doing something I love. I enjoyed my previous job but being a dog trainer is amazing.
I have been a customer with The National Dog Training Academy for many years and love the classes so I decided to take the Train the Trainer programme. I carried out many hours of voluntary work, progressing my training and improving my teaching skills. Being a dog trainer is a much harder job than many imagine.
I’m now very happy doing something I love, spending time with great people, helping them to get the best out of their dog. I love being part of such a great team and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in the past few years, to the extent where I’m now trusted to train some of the newer members of staff.
Hi, I’m Kim.
I’ve been a customer with The National Dog Training Academy for many years with my lovely Jack Russell, Rosie. Sadly I lost my older Jack Russell, called Jack, in 2020.
I love the classes and being around dogs, so even though I can’t afford to give up my full time job, I decided to take the Train the Trainer programme so I could spend more time on weekends helping and teaching in classes. It’s the best way I can think of to spend my Sunday mornings.
Over the past couple of years I have learned so much and gained so much confidence, working to the level where I now take classes as a fully fledged instructor. I’m so proud of my achievement. Being a dog trainer can be challenging and scary at times but as with everything, confidence comes with experience. All the time I spent as a volunteer, watching and learning paid off. I still volunteer in some classes to continue my learning in new areas of dog training.
Becki recently joined us, initially as a volunteer, then decided to complete the Train the Trainer programme to become an instructor. A couple of years ago, Becki came along to puppy classes with her dog Bruce. That was her introduction to The National Dog Training Academy and when she saw the advert for volunteers, she quickly jumped at the opportunity.
Another young, enthusiastic and energetic, younger team member to keep us oldies on our toes!
Becki’s smiley, happy nature goes a long way to making everyone feel comfortable and welcome.
Kate joined us initially with her dog Poppy. A lovely rescue collie. Kate learned so much in helping Poppy that she decided to come on board and join us as an instructor.
Kate has a lot of relevant experience and is now taking a career change for herself which means she has less time to spend with us. We’re delighted that Kate is going to stay on board with us and support during staff holidays and time off.
Claire is one of my longest standing customers. Claire started training with The National Dog Training Academy when we were AA Dog Training, with her rescue Greyhound, Mally. Since then Claire has been coming along to training with all her of her dogs, Gintee, Max (both rescues) and now puppy springer spaniel Sam.
Claire’s family Carl (husband) and Elliott (son) have all been involved with us too. Elliott now brings Sam along to pet gundog classes.
Claire is a nurse and loves being around people and dogs, so a couple of years ago she came along to do the Train the Trainer programme and when she has free time supports classes.
Getting your puppy training right is so important. Come and have a look to see how our outdoor training classes, are different.
Dog training with us is not only effective but great fun too. It’s positive for both you and your dog.