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Meet the Trainer - Ginny Thompson

Ginny Thompson has had over 15 years of experience training dogs in a variety of capacities. Began her training journey when she welcomed a Border Collie puppy named Oz into her family. She ended up training Oz in obedience, agility, and herding and it wasn't long before she realized that training dogs was her calling. Ginny and Oz worked together for Wild Goose Chase for several years, humanely removing geese off the property of businesses in and around the Madison area. 


Professionally, Ginny has had a wide variety of experience. These include:

  • Earning her degree in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Working at Mad City Dog Training (now under new ownership as Dogs Welcome) for five years as a trainer in manner and agility classes 

  • Joining the Dane County Humane Society as an adoption specialist before joining the Canine Behavior Team

  • Creating a program at the Humane Society called “Second Chances” in which prisoners trained troubled pups as a part of their rehabilitation.

  • Creating and teaching a class known as “Positive Pitties”, a canine manners class geared toward pit bull terriers and their owners.

  • Pursuing and gained accreditation in dog training through the Pet Professional Guild (PCT-A)

  • Becoming a member of the Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin.

Ginny is passionate about helping people and their pets enjoy a more fulfilling relationship with each other. Ginny's role is to constantly learn and grow, discovering new tools and techniques to help you and your dog. Whether there are specific behavior issues you wish to address or teaching basic canine manners to your dog or learning some cool new tricks, her number one goal is to help you reach your goals. 

Meet the Trainer - Nikki Darga, CPDT-KA

While Nikki Darga has been training dogs professionally since 2016, her training career started when she decided to try out competitive obedience with her dog Kona when she was sixteen years old. Nikki and Kona also trained for tracking and retrieving. From then on, Nikki knew that she wanted training animals to be a part of her life.


Professionally, Nikki has been engaged in various training related endeavors, including:


  • Working at the Dane County Humane Society teaching group Puppy Beginner Dog, and Dog 2 classes.

  • Joining the Dane County Humane Society as a Canine Volunteer Training Coordinator.

  • Pursuing continuing education opportunities.

  • Obtained her CPDT-KA certification.


Nikki also works with cats to help solve unwanted behaviors for feline friends.

Nikki brings enthusiasm and a love of people and their pets to her work and is committed to creating a supportive environment for everyone. Her ambition is to help animals and their humans create a closer bond and work together to achieve their goals.


Meet the Trainer - Clarinda Arsenault,

Clarinda graduated with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partners program, and is a professional member of Karen Pryor Academy and Professional Pet Guild. She has had the good fortune to be taught and mentored by many highly-skilled animal trainers. Committed to providing the most effective, convenient solutions to her clients’ dog training needs, Clarinda avidly pursues continuing education and professional development by attending several seminars per year and keeping current on industry literature. Clarinda thrives on helping dogs and their people strengthen their bond through positive reinforcement training and an understanding of dog and human behavior. When not helping clients to enjoy fulfilling lives with their dog friends, Clarinda trains her own two dogs, and loves going for long walks with them in the woods and fields of Wisconsin.

Meet the Trainer - Elissa Chasen, PhD

Elissa is a trained scientist at UW-Madison. Educated in agricultural sciences, she is now applying her skills in observation and dedication to learning to dog training. 


Elissa began her passion for dog training and behavior in 2017 when she got her first dog. She had always wanted a dog that she could take everywhere and do everything with. Within a few months of adopting Bodhi, Elissa realized that her dog had trouble coping with the world around them and began a deep dive into positive reinforcement based training methods to help him. 


Since then, she has found a calling to help other humans and their dogs so that they can better understand each other and work together as a team. She began assisting training classes at the Dane County Humane Society in 2021, graduated from Living and Learning with Animals (LLA) in 2023, and is currently working towards her CPDT-KA.


Elissa will always be striving to understand more as science continues to illuminate our understanding of canine behavior and learning. 

Training Philosophy

The behavioral sciences have consistently led Sweet Spot to apply positive reinforcement training techniques to work towards a more rewarding relationship between dogs and owners. Using positive reinforcement training, we help the dog owner define what preferable behavior looks like in their dog and, together, set their dog up to accomplish those goals. This approach results in loose and flowing body language in both the dog and owner, leading to everyone feeling happy and relaxed.


Additionally, while a strong knowledge of canine behavior and dog training skills is a must for any dog trainer, it is also important to be able to teach the human side of this interspecies pair. This is why we have focused on improving her skills as a human teacher as well as to dogs. We support our clients in their training process as much or as little as they’d like. Sometimes this includes helping them set training schedules or talking between training sessions to clarify a difficult concept. As your training pro it is our goal to see dedicated clients reach their goals.  

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