Sue Esper, BA, CPDT-KA
Sue earned her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Wayne State University, and has taken graduate classes in Applied Behavior Analysis through the University of North Texas. She also holds the designation of Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (the CPDT-KA) through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).
Sue has had dogs around all her life. Her neighbors kindly lent their dogs for walks and play before she had one of her own. An abandoned puppy came into her life, and turned an enjoyment of dogs into a passion for all things dog!
Her introduction to dog training came in 1990, with a whippet named Shiloh. The training methods popular at the time were causing the already-shy Shiloh to become even more fearful, so they stopped going to classes. Sue's thought was “if this is dog training, we want no part of it.” Luckily it was not long before she learned about positive dog training methods. Shiloh started to enjoy training, and her recall transformed from a slow, reluctant walk, to a heads-up, tail-wagging gallop! That sight caused Sue to promise that all the dogs in her care from that point forward would be trained solely with dog-friendly methods.
In 1993, she started attending seminars and educational conferences all over the country. Some of the most influential speakers were Bob Bailey, Marian Breland-Bailey, Sue Ailsby, Patricia McConnell, Jean Donaldson, Leslie Nelson, Ted Turner, Virginia Broitman, Kathy Sdao and Karen Pryor. She has attended two ClickerExpos and Bob and Marian Bailey's forty-hour “Introductory Operant Conditioning Workshop” (also known as “Chicken Camp”–that’s right, clicker training with chickens!).
In 1995, Sue started assisting with and instructing pet dog obedience classes in the Metro Detroit area.
In 2009, a friend enrolled her dog-reactive rescued dog in a class at Trainers Academy, and suggested that Sue come along to observe a class. That is where Sue first met Lisa Patrona. Their paths crossed again by chance a short time later, and Sue was invited to join the staff of Trainers Academy. (As a side note, the dog-reactive dog is no longer dog-reactive, and enjoys running and playing with Sue's whippets.)
Sue lives in Warren with her beautiful whippets, Dragonfly, Muse, & Aslan.
Comments from former students:
"Sue was a fantastic instructor. Very clear on her demos and explanations"
~Karen Onail with Ace
"It has been a pleasure learning from you, Sue- thank you for all the tips and tools- it was more about training the humans how to communicate with their dog and teaching us “their language” than it is about training the dog! I’m sure we will be seeing y’all soon! Please stay safe and stay healthy."
Lot of love to Sue & the Trainers Academy family,
Laura, Alex and Achilles Kasa
"Sue is very knowledgeable and it is very clear that she loves dogs and our puppies! She understands that puppy training is not always easy and gives us the confidence that we can do it. Sue’s specific tips for Oliver have been so great!"
~Debra Howe with Oliver
"Sue is great. She’s very patient and gives great advice."
~Gina Hawkins with Addie
"Sue and Lisa went above and beyond to help us understand our newly adopted rescue. They helped brainstorm solutions that have resulted in a most happy family dog. Huge thanks to the volunteers and Sue for giving your time, understanding, and knowledge!"
~Michelle Moniaci with Hero
"We really loved the attentiveness of Sue, and everyone assisting!"
~Barb Biess with Cooper
Sue is a lovely, caring, knowledgeable trainer.
~Jo Ann & Joe with Bailey
"Sue is a top notch Trainer and her short lectures before we started working with the dogs were always interesting. All the training coaches were great especially Jennifer who is also quite knowledgeable. My pup absolutely adored her and could hardly wait to get in the door to see her."
~Beverly Morton with Lexa Rose
"I had the pleasure of training with Sue several years ago. One day before class started I watched Sue work with a puppy who was a handful and whose owners were having trouble working with the puppy. Within a few minutes Sue had the puppy loose leash walking at her side and watching her as if she were this puppy's whole world. All with a clicker and treats...it was inspiring. I knew if I had a chance I wanted to take a class with Sue and years later here I am! Sue, Jessica and Jack were all great! Trudy was terrified of the other puppies at first and because Sue and her staff were so kind, patient and didn't push, by week 4 Trudy decided that puppies weren't scary at all, but are great play buddies! The information and tips provided during class were very helpful and informative. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who has a puppy and who wants to give their puppy the best possible start they can. And I would pay to watch Sue work with puppies/dogs all day long:) She is truly a wonderfully gifted trainer!"
~Jenny Doetsch with Trudy
"Sue did a wonderful job training us to train our dogs. It was very helpful when she would explain why dogs exhibit certain behaviors and how the training would help us to teach them."
~Dawn Bowen with Zeke
"Sue and her staff were kind, professional and extremely helpful. Their love of animals was obvious by the way they handled the puppies and the way the puppies reacted towards them! I felt all of the puppies received excellent help in both a group and individual basis. Sue was very attentive to the puppies behavior and reactions. She gave advice and individual attention when necessary."
~Julie Shopp with Maisy
"Sue was great! She had wonderful suggestions and helpful hints."
~Karen Cencer with Asriel
Isabel and I have been working hard using all the great techniques that you showed us! We also had Jessica fit Isabel with a no pull harness the day after your training session.
I have had many of my neighbors stop and comment on how well Isabel is walking on leash! Virtually no pulling, walking politely at my side! She does still get very excited to meet other people when we are out and about, but calms down quickly. We have been working with hand targeting and using treats to keep Isabel on all 4 feet when she meets new people!
She also loves working off leash in the back yard and is learning to fetch with a favorite toy!!
I could not be more pleased at this point in time with our progress !! We will be seeing you for class in November on Saturday mornings.
Thank you so much for all of the information you provided during our session and also the links in your emails!
~Robin and Izzy
"Sue and the volunteers are all so helpful, the instruction and support materials are very good."
~Joe Lafata with Tucker
"Sue took extra time whenever owners had behavior questions."
~Scott Klimecki with Gambit
"Sue was consistently able to explain concepts to me in ways that really stuck and the anecdotal stories from her and the volunteers helped drive home the point as well. I especially appreciated the time Sue spent with me after class to work on issues"
~Jack Schinderle with Moxie
"I really appreciate Sue's taking the time each week to ask what each owner's unique challenges might be - jumping, barking, pulling counter-surfing - whatever the case may be, Sue had really good training solutions for all."
~Cindy Kenety with Kate
"I'm especially impressed by how patient Sue and the other trainers are in working with dogs who have difficulties dealing with other dogs or people. They were always willing to help with specific questions. "
~Lora Strzyzewski with Stella
"I truly enjoyed Sue and the assistants, they always took time with each dog, each class. Bravo they are great!!"
~Vicky McGill with Raygen
"Sue is an amazing instructor. I feel like almost the entire class period when Sue is teaching I am learning great advice about how to reinforce good behavior Jackson does and how to teach him to do it more often and on his own. I like that we can see the other dogs in the class so that when Sue walks around and gives feedback to each dog we see and hear what she is teaching. I also appreciate that Sue uses the class time efficiently to share her knowledge and experience. I also appreciate that Sue corrects what I am doing wrong in training Jackson and tells me if I am doing something right so I can repeat it with him so he learns too. Sue is truly amazing and cares about giving advice based on what issues we need advice on. I am coming back to Trainers Academy all because Sue is a great teacher and I learn so much from her!"
~Alexandra Stan with Jackson
"Sue is the best trainer and loves these dogs. I feel I can call her at any time for additional help."
~Leslie Schemm with Maggie
"Sue was available to ask questions before or after class. The instructors were very patient in re-explaining things when I couldn't remember, and very flexible with their training methods since Diesel was a service dog and they couldn't interact with him. (Which they did an excellent job of remembering). Before this class, being a first time dog owner, I didn't understand much about how to handle my dog's interaction with other dogs. Now I'm very comfortable handling any situation around other dogs with Diesel"
-Megan Giancarlo with Diesel
"Sue and her training coaches were great resources to us puppy parents. Thanks Sue and everyone else!"
-Paul Depetris with Winnie
"Zack and I are so thankful for Sue. She was with us a year ago in puppy class and has taught all our classes since. Training a brand new puppy was an ambitious goal for us with full time jobs, school, etc., and we don't think we could have done it without Sue and her team! Thanks again!"
-Ashley and Zack with Shep
"Sue was always really helpful with any questions we had -- thank you for always talking with us after class if we had a problem. We felt like our questions and problems were important and valid and always addressed with a helpful solution."
-Matthew and Brenda Dye with Eero
"Sue. Lisa, and Terri were all very attentive to everyone's questions/inquiries and provided guidance along every step of the way."
~Dennis Stallsmith with Yager
"Sue is an excellent teacher. Although you are in a class you feel like you recieved individual attention. She stops out when you need help and is very encouraging."
~Barbara Fischer with Penny
"Sue and her assistants were always willing to answer questions. Sue was always willing to stay after and answer our questions personally."
~Jill Calvin with Stella
"Sue was always asking if there was any trouble areas that we needed help with."
~ Michael Gratopp with Milo
"Sue was attentive, concerned, and interested. We appreciated all the examples and demonstrations. We enjoyed the small class size, the helpful staff and Sue's training & personalized attention to our specific pup problems. The training has been a great jump into establishing a productive communicating rapport with our puppy Annie. She seems to have gotten as much from the technique as we have. As everything in life is an ongoing project- yet we have already developed a very strong bond with our Annie and feel the positive c/t training techniques we learned at Woofology have help us in that development."
~Dave and Sherry Vickery with Annie
"The class was excellent. Sue is thorough with the materials and spends extra explanation personally when needed. I brought a rough edged dog (Sheltered for almost a year) to this class and she is way more receptive. Walking her is pleasurable for both of us instead of an aggravating event. Still we need to continue ongoing what we've taken from the class. I can see Kitas' face light up if she sees me get the clicker. We may inquire about advanced class in some months from now! Thank you! Thank you Sue Esper and the volunteers, you're all wonderful!"
~Walter Stephenson with Kita
"Sue was very helpful with any particular situation we brought up in class. We really enjoyed the class. Clicker training makes a lot more sense to me now. Sue is such a natural at what she does. She really made learning fun for Emma and me. I am hoping to bring back Emma for another advanced class and/or a CGC class in the near future. Thanks again Sue for all your tips and thanks to all the helpers. Hope to see you all again in the future."
~ Mary Jefferson with Emma Rose
"Sue Esper and all of the training coaches were a pleasure to work with. We'll miss coming to this class."
~ Charlene Haines with Ellie
Sue was very knowledgeable and helpful in addressing our questions and concerns
~Liza Jenuwine with Arthur
"I loved all the trainers...they all cared and were very helpful! They went out of their way to make sure everyone got the help they needed Yay!!! Sue and staff"
~Victoria McGill with Raygen
"Sue bent over backwards to help me be a better teacher and mom to Fluffy. i learned a lot from her."
~Bonnie McGuire with Fluffy
"We found Sue to be extremely knowledgeable and eager to assist when we had questions. I found the way the dogs were positioned and having the volunteers there to help made me feel very safe in the class. IT was a great experience fro my first ever dog training class and I have already recommended you guys to others."
~Denise Wunderlich with Toby
"Sue was an EXCELLENT instructor, laid back, made you feel comfortable learning something new,,even though I was uncoordinated in my dog handling."
~Vicky McGill with Raygen
"I received so much help from Sue and the assistants. I appreciated all their help. Sue was so good about helping me with Rio - she would give me directions and on hand demonstrations after class, if I asked. Sue really knows so much about dogs. And, she is so patient with us - especially me and Rio. She told me if I was having trouble to raise my hand and one of the assistants would come over and help me - boy did that help me out a lot.
~Claudette Kinkade with Rio
"We just completed puppy training classes with Sue and her team last week at your place and wanted to thank you all for all your help and guidance in training my puppy Bella. When we started there, Bella was an extremely shy puppy who was very scared of both dogs and people. The very first class Sue assured me and my husband to just give Bella some time with those classes and be patient and that she would come out of her shell. I was not very sure of that, having seen her being so reluctant to even get close to any of the other puppies in her class. But we kept listening to the training team and their advise and did what they suggested us to do. One of Sue's suggestion was to start putting Bella in day-care to help her with her socialization further. We started that as well. By week 3, we started seeing huge improvements in Bella's socialization skills. The staff at your day-care has been so wonderful and nice to her and has contributed so much towards developing her socialization skills. Today Bella is such an outgoing puppy who plays with all kinds of dogs and people. I cannot believe the transformation I've seen in her. Sue has very aptly named her "party girl" :). The same puppy who refused to come out from under our chairs in week 1 and 2 at your class, now wants to play with every dog in sight! I cannot thank all of you enough for that :).
Even though her puppy classes have come to an end and your daycare is a little out of our way, we continue to take her there because she loves it there and I am very comfortable leaving her with your awesome daycare staff.
I especially want to thank Sue and her team for being so patient and so encouraging with her (and me). Thanks to them, and to the daycare staff, I have a completely transformed puppy. So, thank you so much for all your help and effort. And keep doing the great work you all do with dogs and pet parents!"
~Puppy Class Graduate Priya Singh with Bella
"Sue is so knowledgeable and helpful! She also taught us step by step on how to work with our dogs."
~ Intermediate Class Graduate MaryAnne Porcerelli with Vinny
"Sue was very helpful. She answered questions after class on specific behavior problems ZuZu was having. She emailed us extra info on how to help train ZuZu which really helped."
~John Garstecki with Zuzu
"Sue was very good in her instructions. She spoke clearly and her demos were easy to understand. Christie, Jennifer and Ellen were very good TC's. They all worked well together."
~Tristan Patrona with Larry
"We had some behavioral issues that we brought into class. Sue was very helpful in offering advice and training me to think and see things as the dog does. Josie is getting more confident and has become a very workable partner in the training exercises. She very much enjoys her training time and learning how to please...which just breeds her confidence."
~Chris Skotzke with Josie
"I thought that Sue our trainer and the other women who helped were very kind and helpful, they were very encouraging throughout the class. I had Claire in another puppy class before this one and this one was so much more professional, helpful and exactly what we were hoping for. I really appreciated their willingness to help after class also."
~Gina Cotter with Claire
"I loved Intermediate class. Garrosh, Adam and I all learned so much and it was very affordable. It was important to me to find a class that was based on positive reinforcement and this class was exactly what I wanted."
~Kelsey Siembor with Garrosh
"Thanks for your kind words, your confidence in me (and Jelly Bean!) just inspires me to work even harder. If I don’t return this fall, I will definitely be back in spring. I think she and I could benefit from another round of training. Thanks again for all of your help. You are a fantastic trainer and Trainers Academy is fortunate to have you on their team."
~Gloria Gaunt with Jelly Bean
"The advanced class was both enjoyable and beneficial. I find that my dog and I both benefit from the class setting as it keeps us more focused on day to day training at home and gives us specific goals to work towards. Each week I picked up valuable tips and suggestions from all the trainers and would be very interested in additional advanced level classes. I also enjoy watching Sue interact with the dogs. She is AMAZING!"
~Mary Howell with Gus
"Sue did a great job of teaching both the owners and the dogs. We really enjoyed her and her obvious knack for training."
~Peter Corrado with Sonny
"The intermediate class was very good. I have been through other training programs and find Trainers Academy to be much better in many ways. It was much more positive and encouraging. I would have liked to take Cooper through their puppy class, but we didn't adopt him as a pup. Cooper's only complaint is that he never got to sniff any of the other dogs. He'll get to do some sniffing in day care which we are going to try out. Thanks for a good experience."
~ Joyce Karner with Cooper
"My experience in the puppy class was fun. Both Kilty and I were excited to attend each week. Sue was above and beyond helpful to me. I asked a lot of questions and advice. She was more than happy to help with my problems. The coaches were also eager to answer my questions when Sue was helping others. The whole staff was willing to stay after class was finished to help with specific problems. Thank you. I can't wait until the intermediate class."
~ Angela Stringfield with Kilty
"I drove a long way to take the class at Woofology. I could've taken a number of classes that were offered 5 minutes from my home. I knew after the first class that I had made the right decision. The instructor and training staff had many years of experience and they were very well versed in dog behavior. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the classes to anyone who is willing to make the effort to get to the best training for their dog. Sue was an amazing instructor. She added humor which I always appreciate."
~ Patti Tapper and Luna
"This being my first dog, I needed the training - the information is great and I know I just need to spend more time working with him. I agree with the training technique and appreciate the instructor and volunteers patience and understanding with me and my dog. The clicker and positive reenforcement was what I was looking for, he responds well to that and I feel good about his training. Much thanks to Sue and the volunteers!"
~ Kelley Ferland with Deuce
"I would like to thank Sue for the extra time and effort she gave us to work specifically with Moose on a behavioral issue we were experiencing. The exercises have been fun and helpful. Moose loves the find it game when he can't see where I hid his treat. I have been able to train him to sit/stay while I go hide his treat in another room even when I walk past the doorway a couple times trying to decide where to hide it."
~ Puppy & Intermediate Students Michelle & Chuck Morgan and Moose
"Overall I really enjoyed this class and found it more effective than a similar class I previously took my dog to at a different establishment. I appreciated the instructor's knowledge and enthusiasm. I also liked that the teaching methods were adapted to each individual dog's personality so that no dog was overlooked. My dog really enjoyed coming to class every week and responded well to the clicker."
~ Intermediate student Carrie Fienberg and Indy
"We thought the class was great. Sue knew Franklin got nervous with other dogs and people in a large, new group, so she immediately taught us how to get him comfortable with the situation. That alone was worth it to us, and he learned a ton more. We really appreciated that personal touch, and the positive clicker method...Franklin is learning new tricks already, using the same tactics we learned in class."
~ Intermediate Students Matthew Neff and Kaitlyn Kean and Franklin
"Sue was wonderful and went out of her way to stay after class and work with me or anyone who had specific issues -- and she always answered any specific questions during class as well!...She was very clear and always demonstrated anything she was asking us to do with our dogs...This is the second dog I've brought to Trainers and I have and will continue to recommend it to others."
~ Puppy student Carrie Wheatley and Ami
"Sue is an excellent instructor. Both Brooklyn and I had learned a lot by the end of the 6 week class."
~ Intermediate student Carol McAndrews and Brooklyn
"I can't say enough about the great experience Paige and I had at Trainers Academy. I was so nervous to take her, but everyone at Trainers Academy was so helpful and understanding -- the set-up really put me at ease, and Paige had a blast. I had tried traditional training techniques with her, but she just wasn't responding to them. She was barking like crazy at other dogs when we were out on walks, she was acting out when she didn't get what she wanted, and my days were spent trying to get back all the things she would steal from around the house. But the positive reinforcement techniques are great -- Paige LOVES our training sessions, and she responds to my commands so quickly now. She still has her days, but all the issues we were dealing with are improving. We have much more fun together now, and the games and training we learned in class allow Paige to put her energy into something productive and positive. Thanks for everything!"
~ Intermediate student Elizabeth Simmonds and Paige
"Loved the class. Sue is a compassionate and knowledgeable teacher. I learned a lot of skills and Daphne looked forward to the class as well as to working with me at home. She got very excited every time I went anywhere near the bait bag and clicker. I plan on taking the Canine Good Citizen class in the near future."
~ Intermediate Class Graduate Christine Dieck and Daphne Moon
"Kebo & I had already been to puppy and intermediate classes at another facility. The differences in the two places are like night and day. The instructor spent quite a bit of time on "stories" about how she trained her dogs. I may just be a different type of learner, but that didn't do anything for me. At Trainer's Academy, I learned SO much about the way dogs think about things & about how I was "accidently" training my dog to do the wrong things! All of a sudden it all made sense! Plus, the written instructions & articles that we received every week after class by way of e-mail was so helpful to me. I printed everything out and have it in a file to refer back to. I also enjoyed the "games" we played with the dogs. Thank you so much!"
~ Intermediate Class Graduate Kim Bennet and Kebo
"I looked forward to coming to class every week, and Hemi did too. We learned so many things together and we have a much closer relationship because of it. Everyone at Trainers Academy was very helpful and patient. It is easy to see that they love dogs and have a passion for teaching them as well as their owners. Hemi and I are very grateful for everything Trainers Academy has given us. Not only was the class educational but it was a ton of fun too. I can't wait for the next class so I can watch Hemi learn and grow some more. Thank you everybody it was a real treat!"
~ Intermediate Class Graduate Katie Sherman with Hemi
“I liked the small class size and that the instructors had a tip or strategy for any situation that was presented. All the suggestions were sensible and easy to implement but are not things I would have thought of on my own. You sure know your dogs! I loved the rewards-based focus and the use of words only once the dog had mastered the behavior—much better than the dog having to learn by trial and error what all of our dog commands mean! Atticus really bloomed in the puppy class. He went from being shy around the other puppies to happily initiating and engaging in play. I think the class gives both puppies and people the confidence to work well together as a trusting team. The rewards-based focus works so well—all of the puppies in our class had fun learning new things and pleasing their people with what they could do. We’ll be back for intermediate class!"
~ Puppy Class Graduate Amy Smalley with Atticus
“Thank you for taking the time to work with Amber. I knew she could be rehabilitated. She was much more mellow when she came home. You are a miracle worker with dogs. With much appreciation..” G.T
“Teddy is wonderful!!! Thanks for your observations and helpful tips. I believe we have both changed our attitudes toward each other and have given each other mutual respect. Guess I never looked at our relationship that way. Again, thanks for your patience and skill.” J.S.
“As a teacher, I appreciate the difficulty of presenting the same material to different levels of students. You really did a great job.” J.V.
“We wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the puppy class. We had fun and actually learned something new in each and every session. Your positive comments and knowledgeable expertise were greatly appreciated. We're looking forward to the beginner's class.” G.F.
“I wanted to thank you for all your time and patience. You are a great teacher and you should continue with clicker training. We both loved your class and are true clicker training converts.” J.L.