Open for Business: Head of the Class Dog Training

Posted: March 29, 2014

Spumoni awaits a command from Marino.
Lisa Marino operates Head of the Class Dog Training at the Winchester Aquarium and Pet Center on Costello Drive. Canine student Spumoni looks on at left. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

Who is the owner?

Lisa Marino


What is the address?

P.O. Box 4128, Winchester, Va. 22604. Classes held at Posh Pets Boutique, 16 S. Loudoun St., and Winchester Aquarium and Pet Center, 190 Costello Drive.


What is the phone number?



What is the web address?


What are your hours?

Classes are offered weekday evenings, and on Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 5 p.m., depending on the host location’s hours.


Private lessons can be arranged for either in-home, or in the stores. In-home lessons are at mutually agreed upon times.


When did you open?

We started the first group classes at Posh Pets in April 2012, and quickly added classes at Winchester Aquarium in June 2012, and then Briggs Animal Adoption Center in Charles Town, W.Va., in summer 2012.


What services do you provide?

We provide several training options for local families.

First, our group classes range from the beginnings of basic training and socialization for puppies, to specialized classes in more advanced manners training such as [American Kennel Club] Canine Good Citizen and Advanced Canine Good Citizen training and testing, and Pet Partners therapy testing for the more serious-minded dog owner. (We actually can test many species for therapy work — pigs, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, donkeys, horses, llamas.)


We have created classes to encourage bond building and connection between family members and their dogs, and other families and dogs.


For those who want to include their furry friend in workouts, we can offer fitness-type classes like Fit with Fido and Doga, and coming soon Canine Conditioning for the Four-Legged Athlete.


This summer we are developing some new games classes including obstacle skills, obedience skills, ball skills and sniffing skills.


Second, we offer free seminars on puppy socialization and training. These are offered monthly at a variety of locations, in partnerships with local [veterinary] clinics and shelters.


Third, for those who need some extra support or who have individual needs, we do behavior modification for a variety of issues a person may encounter with their dog. This could be fearful behavior, resource guarding, anxiety, reactivity, leash aggression or any number of things. Most of the time, this is done in private lessons.


Fourth, we offer large group presentations and programs on topics of interest to the community and to kids’ groups (Scout groups, classrooms, breed club meetings) such as child and dog safety, dog bite prevention, training and how animals learn, and pet therapy, to name a few.


Why did you decide to open the business?

Prior to moving to the area in December 2011, I researched the area both to find training options for my own dogs to enrich their lives and build a stronger relationship with them, and to continue what was a part-time career in my previous home into a more full-time venture.


As a positive reinforcement and force-free trainer, I continued my own “trainer training” and decided to create what I was seeking for my own dogs — a place where I could feel comfortable with peers in the class, have fun, learn new skills beyond just basic manners, where my dogs would be enthusiastic about learning and I could trust that the instructor/trainer was current on the latest learning theory and research on canine behavior and committed to positive reinforcement methodology.


Do you have any prior business experience?

No, my prior work experience includes dog training for five years on a part-time basis at a dog training school in Wisconsin, part-time exercise and yoga instructor, and teaching middle-school Spanish and literature.


What sets your business apart from others?

Because of my education background and expertise in brain-based learning, I have a deep understanding of how emotions affect learning — in humans and in mammals. The same biochemical processes occur in canine brains as human brains in relation to stress, acquisition of skills and motivation.


My fitness background enables me to offer some interesting classes in a way others have not.



I have obtained a Certified Professional Dog Trainer — Knowledge Assessed Certification from the Certification of Professional Dog Trainers. (This certification requires several professional references and 300 hours of training experience before applying and taking the 240-question exam.)


I have completed the rigorous training program offered by Pat Miller and am a PMCT (Pat Miller Certified Trainer) and have several other programs on the docket to learn from the best and brightest scientific minds in the fields of animal behavior and training.


Our classes are family-friendly, and children are always welcome to attend, and even participate when appropriate.


How many employees do you have?

Myself and four furry helpers who work for cookies.