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
Jeff started working at Union Lake Pet Services in 2016. He works as an assistant at the veterinary hospital in addition to teaching Basic Obedience, Advanced Obedience, Puppy Pre-School, Therapy Dog Classes, and the Drop-off & Kennel Training Programs. He also oversees Daycare Introductions and hopes to be a veterinarian. Shortly after joining us, he went to school to master the basic principles of dog training through Karen Pryor Clicker Training Academy and is a Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Dog Trainer Foundations graduate.
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.
Maddie has been with Union Lake Pet Services since 2017. She began as a kennel/daycare attendant, then transitioned to a training assistant in 2018. She is enthusiastic about learning as much as she can about training and she became a Certified Canine Conditioning Coach.
Maddie has been an animal lover since the day she was born and always knew a job working with animals is where she would find the most joy and contentment.
She loves working with dogs on confidence-building activities. It brings Maddie great satisfaction to work with them on something that they are fearful of and turn it into a positive thing instead.
Maddie is looking forward to continuing to learn about animal training and behavior so that she can provide a positive learning experience for dogs and owners alike.
As far back as Jennifer can remember, she has had compassion and love for animals. She has taken in and fed stray cats, found lost dogs and reunited them with their owners and stopped to save hurt animals.
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.
Nycole joined Union Lake Pet Services in 2019. She has been training since 2014. She became a Certified Dog Trainer through Animal Behavior College in 2011, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and Certified Trick Dog Instructor in 2018. Nycole has taught group classes including Puppy classes, beginner obedience, intermediate obedience, and private lessons. She enjoys helping dogs (and their humans) overcome basic behavior challenges such as barking, digging, jumping, pulling, and mouthing.
Nycole enjoys spending time with her husband, son and dog. Her favorite thing about helping people is knowing that when someone overcomes a challenge with their dog, it can help keep that dog out of a shelter and in that home forever. She also loves seeing people learn how to communicate with their dog and seeing the joy it brings the dog and owners.