“My goal is to use my knowledge and love of dogs to help you and your dog have a better relationship, thereby enabling your canine companion to become a pleasant and enjoyable member of the family.” – Chelsea
Chelsea Usher Cutler, CPT, IACP-CDT has been a dog lover her whole life and is a Certified Professional Trainer through the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers in Columbus, OH. She is also a member of, and Certified Dog Trainer through, the IACP, or International Association of Canine Professionals.
Chelsea got her first dog when she was in kindergarten: Dingo, a Golden Retriever mix from the pound who would be her furry companion until her junior year in college. During high school, she worked at a kennel and later at an animal hospital as a veterinary assistant. As a senior in high school, she chose to research Leader Dogs for the Blind for her senior project, and has been known to friends as “the dog girl” ever since.
It was through her research on Leader Dogs for the Blind that she discovered the role of the volunteer puppy raiser: a person who takes on the financial and training responsibilities of a puppy bred by the non-profit organization for one year before giving the puppy back to the school to continue training. Inspired by the puppy raisers and Leader Dog handlers she met during that year, Chelsea decided to become a puppy raiser herself.
Despite being a new freshman at Gardner-Webb University, Chelsea embarked on a mission to have puppy raising approved on campus. Although it would take two years of proposals, speeches, and professor support, she eventually won the fight and was allowed to raise a puppy for Leader Dog during her senior year.
It was during that year, raising Future Leader Dog Tucker, that Chelsea fell in love with dog training and sharing her knowledge about the animals that had fascinated her for so long. While she and Tucker had a very eventful and educational eleven months together – going to classes, learning how to behave in public, flying to conferences – Tucker had to be returned to Leader Dog in May of 2012, which Chelsea will tell you was one of the hardest days of her life.
On average, only 40% of the dogs enrolled in guide dog programs graduate, and after five months of training at Leader Dog, Tucker was “career-changed” and returned to Chelsea, having been labeled as too easily distracted by other dogs. It was his return, and her desire to work with him and give him purpose, that led to her to discover the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers where she completed the Master Trainer course. She and Tucker have also been members of Therapy Dogs International and Pet Partners.
Chelsea is dedicated to continuing education and has attended the following in-person workshops/shadow programs:
Dealing with Difficult Dogs – K9 Lifeline, Heather Beck (March 2018)
Shadow Program – K9 Lifeline, Heather Beck (November 2018)
Force Free Method E-Collar Workshop – Monks of New Skete, Marc Goldberg (June 2019)
Puppy Potential Workshop – Brittany Brauer, Bethany Tracy (December 2019)
Relationship Based Behavior Modification – Canine Human Relationship Institute, Nelson Hodges (February 2020)
Measurable Standards Tour – Linda Kaim, Dave Cochran (July 2020)
Relationship Based Behavior Modification Course 2 – Canine Human Relationship Institute, Nelson Hodges (November 2021)
Meet our Training Assistants!
Tucker, or “Prince Tucker” as he is affectionately called, is our head canine instructor. He is calm, cool, and collected, so he’s a great asset when training reactive dogs or doing Puppy Preschool! He has also been a certified therapy dog who enjoys reading with kids. Tucker volunteered as a Tail Waggin’ Tutor with Therapy Dogs International from 2013-2018 and with Pet Partners program from 2018 to 2021. He is now semi-retired.
Ellie, or “Ellie the Warrior Princess” as she is affectionately called, is our canine assistant in training. She is a feisty little girl with a great work ethic. She is working to learn the tools of the trade and maturing into a fun companion. Don’t try to sneak anything past this girl – she doesn’t miss a thing!