Best Dog Training in Phoenix

Meet the Office Team at Valley of the Sun Dog Training!


John Van Olden – CEO/President

John is an accomplished trainer, skilled teacher, and intelligent businessman. After spending over twenty years in the dog training industry, he decided to put his knowledge and resources together and create Canine Trade Group, a national network of canine professionals that makes the stressful task of finding the right in-home trainer a cinch. All trainers within the network are personally approved by John and must complete a rigorous screening program before being accepted.

What makes John such a staple in the community of canine professionals? Quite simply, he’s been handling dogs, studying training methods, and watching the industry grow and change since he enlisted in the military over twenty years ago. After his time in the service, his interest in dog training continued to expand until he was helping to found the International Association of Canine Professionals, starting the very first dog training franchise in the U.S., and even teaching classes to those interested in becoming trainers.

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Cristin Ellis – Operations Manager

Cristin has a passion for the dog training industry that is difficult to match. She spent over ten years training dogs to succeed in agility competitions before turning her attention to the less competitive, but perhaps more satisfying, branch of training that Canine Trade Group focuses on—aggressive dog training and rehabilitation.

As CTG’s Operations Manager, Cristin puts her knowledge to use by discussing clients’ problems over the phone and connecting them to a trainer in their area who can give them and their pet the one-on-one attention they need.

She lives with her husband and three Border Collies, Sike!, Elsa, and Phineas. All of her dogs have been through the CTG Training Program.

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Nicole Zulkowski – Veterinary Relationship Manager

Ever since she was a child, Nicole knew that she wanted dogs to be involved in her life and her career. She attended Ursinus College and graduated with a BS in Biology, aiming to work in the animal field. All throughout high school and college, Nicole worked various jobs involving animals. Later after graduating, she worked as a veterinary technician and as a handler at a dog daycare. It was here that her interest in dog behavior came to full fruition, and began seeking opportunities in the dog training industry.

Nicole found Canine Trade Group and joined their office staff, talking to owners about their dog problems and guiding them to the right training programs that would address all their needs and training goals. She has studied the dog training course that Canine Trade Group’s trainers take, which has built her understanding and experience in complex canine behaviors.

She lives happily with her two dogs: her Pitbull mix named Willow and a Boston Terrier/Pug mix named Brooklyn.

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Dr. Karen Usselman V.M.D. – On Staff Veterinarian Consultant

Dr. Usselman is originally from western New York, attended Cornell University and then the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia.  She graduated in 1996 and joined Brenford Animal Hospital in May 1996.  She is currently a partner with the practice. 

Dr. Usselman enjoys working with dogs and cats.  She is particularly interested in internal medicine, ultrasonography, behavior and dentistry.  She serves as the treasurer of the Delaware Veterinary Medical Association and has taught in the Delaware Technical College Vet Tech program.  Dr. Usselman is married to Dr. Jeff Booth and has two children, three dogs and a cat to keep her busy at home.


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