“Kim Keleher is an intuitive and yet highly trained and certified dog trainer. Her innate love of all dogs is evident as she works with a client to hone in on behaviors that need modifying. She takes the time to know your dog and know you and your needs. Have never had a trainer that is such a good dog person and people person in one!”

Leslie Harris

Kim Keleher & The Canine Connection

Why I do
what I do

Hello and welcome! I’m Kim Keleher, the certified professional dog trainer behind Canine Connection. It’s my mission and my pleasure to help fellow Alexandria dog lovers – professionals, families, and retirees – enjoy the best possible connection with their dogs. A native Alexandrian myself, I graduated from St. Stephens and St. Agnes School and Randolph College, I understand how busy dog owners can be and want to help them get the most enjoyment out of their canine family members.

We love our dogs and want them involved in our daily activities, but that usually requires dogs to be on their best behavior. Being busy means little time for dog training classes and homework and learning a whole new skill set, even if interested.

That’s why I train my clients’ dogs and puppies for them. It just makes sense to me.

My professional training
credentials & experience

You wouldn’t hire an accountant or lawyer without professional credentials, and you shouldn’t hire a dog trainer without them, either. That can be challenging, because dog training is still a young and unregulated industry with no education or certification requirements.
I have sought science-based professional education and certification, and am dedicated to ongoing professional development. My credentials include:

Peaceable Paws Certified Dog Trainer

Proud to have studied under one of the most highly respected and recognized dog trainers in the country and internationally, I am a graduate of multiple Pat Miller Academies, including her Canine Behavior and Training, Canine Behavior Modification, and Advanced Training and Behavior Study programs.

Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge-Assessed (CPDT-KA)

I hold my professional certification from the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), via a voluntary and rigorous exam process for professional dog trainers.

Professional Development

I frequently attend professional dog training seminars and conferences where I continue my education by learning from internationally renowned trainers such as Dr. Susan Friedman, Sue Sternberg, Karen Pryor Academy Clicker Expo faculty such as Ken Ramirez, and many others.

Hands-On Experience

I began my career with dogs at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, first as a volunteer and eventually as a mentor to others volunteers. I specialized in assisting with the shelter’s more difficult dogs. I had the good fortune of working with a wide variety of dogs and behaviors over my six year tenure at the shelter.

Before opening Canine Connection I worked at Wholistic Hound Academy, an award-winning positive reinforcement training facility here in Alexandria.

My training methods & why I use them

Modern dog training has come a long way. Most notably, it is science-based, allowing us to ascertain the most effective and safe ways to train the dogs we love. This has freed us from much of the methodology of past decades that relied primarily on punishment and coercion. We now know from many studies that our old training methods carry the potential for many unwanted side effects, ranging from fear-based behaviors to aggression.

So, just as we’ve moved away from spanking and corporal punishment for our children, we are moving away from the same for our dogs. The studies prove it’s better and it feels better, too.

The best news? Positive-based training has also proven highly effective for manners and obedience training as well as solving problematic behavior issues. So that’s what I use. I want you to enjoy the training results I get with your dog. And I want you to feel good about asking me to get them for you.

Want to learn more? Here’s a great place to start:

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior

How two Dobermans changed my life

Most dog trainers have “that dog.” The one that got them into dog training. The one with the serious behavior issues or the unquenchable training drive. Mine was a Doberman named Dempsey who came to me at two years old terribly under-socialized and very scared of city life. We learned a lot together. He’s the source of my empathy for my clients living with challenging dogs, and of my drive to make sure all puppies I train benefit from positive socialization as well as positive manners training.

The Doberman I had before Dempsey changed my life in a whole other way. I met my late life partner, Tom Rust, when his German Shepherd attacked my first Doberman. True story. And as my mother had given me that dog, she of course claims credit for our relationship.

I’ve shared a bit about me and my dogs.

I’d love to hear about you and yours!

Private puppy trainer and private dog trainer in Alexandria, VA.