Get to know our amazing team!
We’re here to help you strengthen the human-animal bond.
Head Trainer & Instructor
CPDT, KPA-CTP, CCC, CTDI, AKC Stunt Dog Judge
Melissa has always had an interest in working with dogs. She started working at Union Lake in 2003. Shortly after joining us here, she went to school at National K-9 to become a Certified Dog Trainer. Melissa is a Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner. Melissa is also a Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI), Canine Conditioning Coach (CCC), Certified Stunt Dog Instructor and AKC Judge, and AKC Canine Good Citizen Approved Evaluator.
Melissa enjoys working with every dog that walks through the doors. Training dogs to learn behaviors that make their owners happy is what she enjoys most. This might mean obedience or trick training, confidence building, or any other behavior. The look on an owner’s face is the most satisfying reward. Her goal is to improve the bond between owner and dog by opening lines of communication through positive reinforcement training.
Melissa currently teaches the Puppy Pre-School, Basic Obedience, Advanced Obedience, Agility, Trick Training, Stunt Dog Training, Canine Conditioning, Therapy Dog Classes, and the Drop-off & Kennel Training Programs. Melissa also oversees Daycare Introductions and leads the entire training team.
Rebecca started as a kennel attendant, veterinary assistant, and daycare attendant at Union Lake Pet Services in 2011 and has been a part of the Union Lake training team since 2012. She continues to immerse herself further into the training and behavior world and is especially excited about working with dogs with behavioral problems like anxiety and aggression.
She enjoys working with dogs of all ages and sizes, but her main passion is working with dogs with behavioral issues involving fear and aggression to develop ways of resolving those behaviors. Her passion for dogs with behavioral problems is fueled by her own quirky Jack Russell Terrier. With Leo being her first dog, she quickly sought out the advice and expertise of Union Lake’s training team and veterinary staff for help. After working with her own dog and seeing how many other owners dealt with issues similar to her own, she started learning more and more about dogs with behavioral problems.
Rebecca is a Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner and an AKC-Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. In 2017, Rebecca also became certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.
Rebecca currently runs our behavior training department which includes the following services: Quirky K9s classes, private in-home, and private in-facility behavior modification, and drop-off training services. She takes pride in using positive training techniques that are based on modern scientific studies and that are completely force free to reduce the fear and anxiety of dogs in these programs. Her personal goal in any of these programs is to improve the quality of life for the dog and therefore improve the quality of life of the owner.
Austin started as a kennel and daycare attendant at Union Lake Pet Services in spring of 2015 and joined the Union Lake Training team by the next spring of 2016. Austin was trained by Melissa and Rebecca on how to understand and apply learning theory effectively with a positive reinforcement based training approach. With years of hands-on training experience, Austin is currently pursuing his goal of becoming an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. Austin continues to educate and immerse himself in the field of animal behavior and dog training by attending many educational seminars and lectures whenever he can find them.
Austin has always had a passion to work with all sorts of animals ever since he was young and very much enjoys learning about how animals learn, communicate and behave. Austin loves dogs and helping owners gain a better relationship with their animal through understanding dog body language and creating training plans to help manage and adjust unwanted behaviors. Austin trains other animals as well as a hobby and hopes to one day work with plenty of unusual and exotic animals.
Austin currently teaches the Puppy Preschool, Basic Obedience, Advanced Obedience, Agility, Trick Training, and Drop-off & Kennel Training Programs.
“I don’t help people with dog problems. I help dogs with people problems.”—Austin
Jay has worked as an engineer, writer, teacher, kennel attendant, and a veterinary assistant. Jay came to Union Lake as a training client and joined the Union Lake Training team in 2017. His love for German Shepherd rescue dogs and a desire to train them to be “Good Citizens” lead him to search for more effective training practices to achieve the desired outcome. He found that method at Union Lake with their training team. At the same time, he found a new passion and a new occupational direction as a canine trainer.Jay continues to study canine training, latest canine training methods and feels a strong calling to expand traditional training to include enrichment training as well as researching, promoting and developing a canine fitness program.Jay currently teaches Basic Obedience, Agility, and Canine Enrichment as well as Drop-off Training and Kennel Programs.
Jennifer has volunteered at the Humane Society, Oakland County Animal Control and other animal rescues. She fostered groups of kittens that had upper respiratory infections, nursing them back to health so that they could be adopted into forever homes. Other responsibilities included husbandry work (providing food and water and cleaning cages), walking dogs and providing lots of cuddles and pets until the animals were adopted into their forever families. She has also fostered puppies and dogs. Her last 3 dogs have been shy/fearful, which gives her valuable perspective into what our clients and their pets are experiencing.
Jennifer is drawn to the dogs that are shy/fearful and a bit different. She says it is rewarding to see a dog or puppy come out of its shell and become more confident. She loves to see a dog learn something new and experience life through a different lens.
Jennifer joined the Union Lake Pet Services training team in 2018. She feels training is amazing, especially the moment where she sees the lightbulb go on. Where the work and time she has put into teaching a sit command, teaching loose leash or teaching a new trick, sinks in and the dog in front of her gets it. She loves building a connection with the dog she’s working with, the process of building trust, and how all of it ties into training and handling. Pets are part of our families and when she helps a pet, she is helping a family and helping an animal live its best life. She feels part of a larger process and she loves that.
Growing up, Megan was always seen by family and friends as the “animal person”. Whether it was loose dogs or injured animals, Megan would be the one to call. Megan joined the training team at Union Lake in 2020. She has been working with dogs since she was about 17. From working in daycare to bathing dogs and being the neighborhood pet sitter. She has a certificate in dog body language and doggy group play. Watching dogs interact and picking up on their body language is important to her, and she wants to help teach others how to pick up on those signals as well so that all dogs can be understood and listened to the way they deserve.
Building a bond with dogs is extremely important for Megan. Working with anxious, shy or nervous dogs is her favorite especially. Working on making them feel safe and comfortable in situations where they may feel anxious. Nothing feels better than seeing an anxious dog start to open up and realize they are safe and comfortable with her. Seeing them come out of their shell and seeing their true cute personalities come out is her absolute favorite part of working with dogs. Working on things such as confidence building, socialization, fun tricks, obedience, and daycare socialization. She loves doing it all. She feels that the dogs help her as much as she helps them. She eventually wants to get into the behavioral side of training to help fearful dogs and their owners get through tough obstacles. She has always believed that if you’re doing what you love as a career, you don’t truly work a day in your life.
Ashley started working here at ULPS in 2018 as a kennel assistant and working in daycare. She was always playing and running around with the dogs, making sure they had a great time, and making sure they were tired when they got picked up at the end of the day. Growing up with dogs her whole life, she learned the different quirks each breed has, and what activities they truly enjoy.
Ashley started training in 2020. She works closely with our young pups by helping them build up their confidence and socializing them in this new environment. Her favorite part is when we have a new puppy come in who’s a bit timid and nervous and seeing their true personalities shine once they have the help that they need. With a quirky dog of her own, she knows how a lot of people are feeling with their own dog and wants to help as much as she can.
Ashley has worked in our puppy pre-school class, puppy play night, and our basic obedience classes. She enjoys teaching obedience and working on impulse control. She strives to make sure the dogs she’s working with not only learn new behaviors and tricks, but have a fun day and enjoy what they’re working on.
Erin has been involved with animals her entire life. Her first job was working at a kennel in high school. She continued her love of animals by studying Zoology at Michigan State University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Behavior/Neurobiology. Erin completed an internship at the Potter Park Zoo and also at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago implementing training and enrichment programs across several species. Erin accepted a position at the Detroit Zoo as a senior trainer/keeper in the mammal department. She trained multiple species in positive reinforcement training and implemented protocols for animal husbandry behaviors for multiple departments. Erin is also a member of a retriever club that trains and competes in AKC Hunt Tests and Field Trials throughout the Midwest.
Erin joined the Union Lake Pet Services training team in 2019 and works part time, primarily with the puppy play night classes, puppy pre-school and Basic Obedience classes. Erin loves teaching clients how to better communicate with their dogs and especially loves working with new dog owners who are eager to learn. Teaching people to train their dogs is a rewarding job, and she enjoys watching them grow together. She firmly believes a well-trained dog makes for a more enjoyable family member with years of benefits to come
Bio & photo coming soon!