Instructors & Staff

Click a name to jump down to your instructor’s bio:


Sarah Stoycos, KPA-CTP

YDF-sarah Sarah’s goal is helping dogs become happy, healthy life-long companions to their people. A former college professor who loves to teach, Sarah enjoys meeting new people and showing them ways to communicate better with their dogs.

  • Owner/trainer of Laughing Dog Academy
  • Certifications:
    • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP)
  • Education:
    • B.A. Bowdoin College
    • PhD Washington University in St. Louis
    • Seminars by Ken Ramirez, Jesus Rosales-Ruiz, Ken McCort, and Terry Ryan
  • Memberships:
  • Over a decade of experience working with a variety of animal species (dogs, seals, chimps, and monkeys!)
  • Experienced handling many different behavioral and training issues

Contact Sarah

Susan Sanderson, PMCT3, KPA-CTP

Susan’s practice centers around force-free, rewards-based dog training and behavior work. She offers group classes and private lessons throughout the Washington, DC area. YDF-Susan

  • Teaches basic skills, agility and other behavior classes
  • Certifications:
    • Pat Miller Certified Trainer (PMCT3)
    • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP)
  • Education:
    • Sue Sternberg and Pia Silvani’s Instructors’ Training Course
    • Bob Bailey’s Operant Conditioning Chicken Workshops
    • Agility workshops with Stuart Mah and One Mind Dogs
    • Suzanne Clothier’s Trainers Workshop, Advances Trainers Retreat, and CARAT 1.1 Seminar
  • Memberships:
  • Has competed with her dog, Falco, in the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) at the Masters level
  • Volunteers as a trainer with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington

Contact Susan

Marnie Montgomery, PMCT4, CPDT-KA

Marnie’s training approach draws on 20+ years’ experience in diverse areas of adult education honed through study and experience in Tellington TTouch and rewards-based methods of dog training and stress reduction. YDF-Marnie

Contact Marnie

E. Foley, CPDT-KA

E’s headfirst dive into dog behavior began when she adopted Titania, a fearful cocker spaniel. She discovered her passion for fearful dog rehab, most recently working one-on-one with cocker mixes rescued from a backyard breeder. E advises other foster parents of fearful dogs and helps manage Debbie Jacobs’ Facebook support group for fearful dog owners. E assisted in many classes at Your Dog’s Friend prior to obtaining her certification.

Contact E.

Joyce Loebig, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, SAPro

Joyce strives to develop training solutions that meet both the dog’s and their family’s needs. She loves looking at the world from the dog’s point of view.  Joyce is experienced in teaching classes and workshops for basic and advanced manners, puppy socialization, leash walking, reactive dogs, tricks and many other behaviors.  She has volunteered in several foster dog and animal welfare organizations in the area.

Contact Joyce

Lisa Arant, CPDT-KA

Lisa began her dog training career over 10 years ago and has taught for many years at Your Dog’s Friend. Lisa has worked at the shelter and volunteered as a foster. She continues her education by attending webinars and conferences, updating her skills with the newest information about dogs and their behavior.

  • Owner/trainer at Small and Tall Dog Training
  • Certifications:
    • Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
    • Certified AKC Canine Good Citizen, S.T.A.R. Puppy and Trick Dog Evaluator
  • Education:
    • Family Paws Educator
    • Pat Miller Level 1 Canine Behavior & Training Academy
    • “Is That a Chicken?” Camp
    • Seminars/workshops: Kathy Sdao, Patricia McConnell, Susan Friedman, Ken Ramirez, Kaye Lawrence, Suzanne Clothier, Temple Grandin, Bob Bailey, and Lore Haug
  • Memberships:

Contact Lisa

Robin Shepherd, CPDT-KA

Robin’s interest in dogs and training started when volunteering at Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC). After meeting many dogs and training her own two anxious dogs her love for training and behavior grew. Today, in addition to teaching at Your Dog’s Friend, she works part-time as a contractor with the behavior department at MCASAC. Her main goal is to strengthen the relationship and communication between dog and human while at the same time having fun!

  • Owner/trainer Infinite-Dog
  • Certifications:
    • Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
  • Education:
    • B.A. Speech Communication, University of Maryland
    • Animal Behavior Consulting and Practice Course – IAACB
    • Canine Behavior & Training and Behavior Modification academies – Peaceable Paws
    • Enrichment Framework for Behavior Modification Master Class – Pet Harmony
  • Memberships:

Contact Robin

Veronica Beman, KPA-CTP

Veronica started her training journey with the adoption of her own dog, Willa. The process of learning how to effectively and humanely communicate with Willa, and learn how Willa was communicating with her, was fascinating to her – and she wanted to help other people have the same positive experience! Veronica now supports pet owners in their training journeys, strategizing ways of finding that middle ground where both human and canine needs for emotional comfort and companionship, mental stimulation, and physical safety are met. Before teaching at YDF, she assisted many classes throughout the Montgomery County region, from puppy basics to classes for reactive dogs.

Contact Veronica

Debbie Nathanson, CPDT-KA

Debbie has a passion for working with dogs and their people, and wants to help make their relationships the best they can be. After the adoption of her anxious mixed-breed rescue, Shadow, Debbie knows how difficult it can be to have a nervous, shy, or reactive dog. Because of her experience, she spent years practicing training and management techniques with Shadow and eventually other rescue and shelter dogs. Her need to help Shadow fueled her passion, and she continued her education and expanded her volunteering to work with many local trainers and training classes (including with Your Dog’s Friend). The daughter of two educators, Debbie decided to share her skills and assist others who are on the journey to finding and developing greater communication, compassion, and camaraderie with their canine companions.

  • Owner/trainer Good Pets
  • Certifications:
    • Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
    • Certificate of Wildlife Studies, Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
  • Education:
    • B.A. Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California
    • Pat Miller Level 1 Behavior & Training and Behavior Modification Academies
    • Seminars/workshops in behavior modification, cooperative care, reactivity, aggression, and shelter animal care, and more
  • Memberships:

Contact Debbie

Kayleigh Sullivan, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA

Kayleigh has worked professionally training animals for over 10 years working with a variety of species. Most of her professional experience has included working with elephants and marine mammals in both zoo and sanctuary settings. She has also worked and volunteered in behavior departments at local animal shelters. She now focuses her time and expertise on helping pet parents to develop a two-way communication system to strengthen their relationship. She is experienced in cooperative care, reactivity, basic and advanced manners, puppy socialization, leash walking skills, and trick training.


  • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP)
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)


  • Bachelor of Animal Science
  • Aggressive Dog Master Course
  • Workshops: Clicker Expo, Aggressive Dog, Suzanne Clothier, ABMA

Contact Kayleigh

Morgan Stroup, KPA-CTP

Morgan’s goal is to help foster a better relationship between dogs and their owners using positive training methods and activities that are both fun and practical. She puts a high emphasis on a solid foundation between teams utilizing pattern and engagement games. She participates in a wide variety of canine sports, including but not limited to: Agility, BarnHunt, AKC Conformation, Trick Dog, FastCat & Coursing, and Dock Diving.

  • Certifications:
    • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP)
    • AKC CGC and Trick Dog Evaluator

Contact Morgan

Jackie Moyano, CPDT-KA, PMCT, SAPro

Jackie Moyano transitioned careers from a respiratory therapist to dog training in 2013. In addition to caring for patients, she also taught both patients and respiratory therapy students. Jackie’s medical teaching experience lends itself well to teaching people how to train their dogs. Pssst! Dog training is really people training! Jackie actively pursues continuing education and added a separation anxiety credential, SAPro to her name in 2021. Jackie’s training partners are her Siamese cat and her Dachshund Terrier mix.

  • Owner/trainer at Behavior United, LLC
  • Certifications:
    • Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
    • Pat Miller Certified Trainer (PMCT)
    • Certified Separation Anxiety Pro (SAPro)
  • Education:
    • B.S. Biology, Millersville University
    • 3 of Pat Miller’s academies
    • Workshops and seminars: Ken Ramirez’ Animal Training Seminar at SHEDD Aquarium, Sue Sternberg’s Eden Internship working with Alaskan husky sled dogs, Michael Shikashio’s Aggression in Dogs Master Class certification, plus all 5 of the Bailey-Farhoody chicken workshops
  • Memberships:

Contact Jackie

Angie Madden, CPDT-KA, CCUI

Angie focuses on relationship building and communication between dog and handler with the goal of developing a harmonious working relationship. Her training philosophy is heavily influenced by her experience as a carnivore keeper, which introduced her to the concepts of husbandry training and enrichment. All of this led Angie to become a Certified Control Unleashed™ Instructor, and she has taught CU classes, webinars, and presented at Conference Unleashed 2020 and 2021.

  • Owner/trainer at DogSpeak
  • Certification:
    • Certified Control Unleashed Instructor (CCUI)
  • Education:
    • B.S University of Maryland
    • Conference Unleashed, 2021, 2020
    • Aggression in Dogs Conference, 2021, 2020
    • Aggression in Dogs: Safety, Defensive Handling, and Training
    • Pet Professional Guild Geek Week, 2020
    • ClickerExpo, 2019, 2022
    • Behavior Adjustment Training for Reactive Dogs webinar
  • Memberships:

Contact Angie

Jacqui Reardon, CNWI

Jacqui has been teaching K9NW® classes since May 2017. She started her nose work journey with her chocolate labs Blake and Chip when Blake was a puppy (he is now 6 years old). Hunter, her new puppy,  will be taking his Odor Recognition Test (ORT) in August 2020 and has his novice tricks title and his junior jumper title as well. Chip is now retired with his first NW3 title and several element titles and Blake has earned his NW3-Elite title and numerous element titles, in addition to competing in dock dogs, fast cat, and rally. Blake also competes in AKC scent work at the advanced level, Performance Scent Dogs at the novice level and recently attended the PA nose work camp.  Jacqui also volunteers at trials and attends seminars to further her knowledge and to watch dogs work to solve increasingly complex scent puzzles and build their confidence!

  • Certifications:
    • Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI)
  • Education:
    • B.S. Accounting, Loyola University
    • M.S. Taxation, University of Baltimore
    • CNWI course, NASCW
    • K9 Nose Work for Shelter Dogs Workshop
    • Various nose work, scent detection, handler workshops, seminars and coaching clinics
  • Membership:
    • National Association of Canine Scent Work (NASCW)
    • Dock Dogs Worldwide (DDWW)
    • North America Diving Dogs (NADD)
    • Oriole Dog Training Club

Contact Jacqui

Alexandra Dilley, CPDT-KA

Alexandra provides treatment and support for separation-related problems. Alexandra was the Director of Behavior and Training at the Humane Rescue Alliance from 2013-2021. During her time there, she worked with the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Asheville, North Carolina, to develop HRA’s first intensive program for severely fearful dog rehabilitation; additionally, she started and ran a prison dog training program at Patuxent Institution in Jessup, MD; she also taught classes on everything from obedience to dog reactivity, and provided ongoing private session and behavioral support for adopters, fosters, and the Washington, D.C. community. Over those years, she worked closely alongside and completed a formal mentorship program with Tracy Krulik, CTC, CSAT, from Separation Anxiety & Beyond, in how to address separation-related problems in foster and shelter-adopted animals.  After leaving HRA, she became a trainer for Separation Anxiety & Beyond. She continues to support shelter dogs by taking on separation anxiety and other behavior cases in foster homes.

  • Owner/trainer at Home Alone Canine
  • Certifications:
    • Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
    • Fear Free Shelter Professional 
  • Education:
    • B.A. Music, Wellesley College
    • M.A. Animal Behavior & Conservation, Hunter College, City University of New York
    • Apprentice program at Separation Anxiety & Beyond with Tracy Krulik, CTC, CSAT
    • Apprentice program at Humane Domain with Debbie Winkler, CABC, CPDT-KA
    • Mentorship programInternational Association of Animal Behavior Consultants’ shelter with Trish Loehr, M.A Animal Behavior, CPDT-KA
    • Additional training education, and mentorship with Jean Donaldson through the Academy for Dog Trainers, Pia Silvani at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center & Learning Lab, Dr. Peter Borschelt, Nancy Williams, and Michelle Yue.
    • Workshops and seminars: Michael Shikashio & Trish Loehr, Sue Sternberg, Clicker Expo, Ken Ramirez, Aggression in Dogs Conference, HSUS Animal Care Expo
  • Memberships:
    • Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers
    • International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Contact Alexandra

Melissa Dilla, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, CBBC-KA

Melissa and Bodhi, her Collie, work as a therapy dog team and Bodhi is also a certified R.E.A.D. dog. They’re titled and active in a variety of dog sports such as Obedience, Rally, Coursing, FCAT, Barn Hunting, Scent Work, Conformation, Tricks, and Herding. They’ve also earned the CGC, CGCA, CGCU, ATT, and Farm Dog titles as well. Melissa instructs several levels of Tricks and CGC classes and conducts evaluations at a local volunteer dog training club. She’s stewarded at club trials, and piloted the project of Fit Dog. Melissa and Bodhi contributed several admissions to the AKC PupPals program. She also volunteered with Hero Dogs for several years.

  • Owner/trainer at Metropolitan Dog LLC
  • Certifications:
    • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP)
    • Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
    • Collaborative Care Partner (DN-CCP)
    • Fear Free Pet Professional
    • AKC CGC, Tricks and ATT Evaluator
    • Do More With Your Dog Evaluator
    • Certified Dog Bite Prevention Educator (DBPE)
    • PPG Pet First Aid
    • Red Cross CPR
    • Certified Service Dog Coach
    • C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator
  • Education:
    • Bachelor of Social Science
    • Seminars/workshops: Bob Bailey, Suzanne Clothier, Temple Grandin, Sue Sternberg, Michael Shikashio, Clicker Expo
  • Memberships:

Contact Melissa

Nicole Wright, Training Center Coordinator

Nicole provides administrative support, including managing class registrations, scheduling and responding to your email inquiries. Contact Nicole

Debra Ekman, Founder


In 2006, Debra launched Your Dog’s Friend and began spreading the word about the benefits of positive reinforcement training.

With a focus on training classes for pups, and education and personalized support for their people, Your Dog’s Friend has been going strong for nearly 20 years, due in large part to Debra’s commitment to our mission, to keep dogs out of shelters by educating and supporting their humans. Debra retired from Your Dog’s Friend in 2023 but continues to volunteer in the community.