My father had many dogs in his life and I grew up with my pet dogs, so I always had an interest in dog behaviour from a young age. At one stage I considered looking into joining the police force, but when I was just 19 years old, I had the opportunity to work at The Melbourne Zoo. To my amazement, I ended up working there for 17 years as a Zoo Keeper and Precinct Supervisor, with my roles having a strong focus on training and behaviour.
Working with the elephants was an incredible experience. I traveled around the world learning and working under many highly skilled professionals. Skills and knowledge that I then passed on to my team at the zoo. We needed to ensure our keepers were safe from the obvious dangers of working with large and capable animals, but we also wanted to develop a training program with an absolute focus on the highest level of health care; both physical and psychological.
We had one of the world’s strongest elephant breeding programs at the time and some of my best memories are when the three elephant calves were born. One of them was the first successful artificial insemination of an elephant in Australia and also the first elephant calf born in Melbourne Zoo’s 150 year history.
Elephants have fascinating animal traits and like people, they form family groups (herds). Working with captive elephants who have never had calves (or ever been around calves) is a huge and dangerous task because when a baby elephant is born, it can create considerable anxiety in the new mother and it changes the dynamic of the herd. Like young children, calves are playful and captive elephants need to learn how to parent, which takes dedication, coaching and patience for the inexperienced.
HOW DOES ALL THIS RELATE TO DOGS?
Much of the experience I gained working with elephants, and other animals, crosses over into my work with dogs. Developing training programs that focus on building meaningful relationships built on trust and understanding, and high standards of animal training that ultimately create freedom and opportunity, are key areas that can build an extremely rewarding life experience for a dog and their family.
Our team are passionate about helping their clients understand their dog. Along with teaching the skills needed to train their dog, we also considers a dog’s innate motivations, history of learned behaviours/experiences and temperament, so that a tailored program can be created for successful outcomes.
Developing a well-trained dog is essential, but they also need to be happy and balanced. Our qualified team helps clients achieve the best results for them and their dog. With a strong focus on play and building meaningful relationships, our program may be one of the most comprehensive in the world.
FOUNDER | DIRECTOR
NDTF Certificate III in Dog Behaviour and Training
Certified Dog Training Instructor
Certificate III in Captive Animals
Diploma of Business Management
David is an experienced and fully qualified canine specialist, certified dog trainer and wildlife specialist with a Diploma in Business Management and Cert III in Captive Animals. He is also a member of the National Dog Training Federation and the International Association of Canine Professionals and is a regular contributor and organiser of industry events throughout Australia.
MEET THE TEAM
MEET THE TEAM
MEET THE TEAM
Michèle Zuber – Trainer
Doing what I love as my job with like minded people makes me feel incredibly grateful. There is always more to learn, making dog training continuously interesting and humbling. I enjoy working with clients to learn who their individual dog is and what they find fulfilling to create lasting and mutual relationships.
Alongside training I regularly foster dogs which is rewarding and gives me invaluable understanding to help both dogs and people.
I feel most at home in nature and my two dogs, Fin and Nala and I regularly go on adventures, they also often assist me in working with clients dogs. Fin and I are part of the GRC dog sports club which gives both dogs and people amazing opportunities to take things to the next level.
Buddy Spohn – Trainer
Most days, both of my dogs are in tow with me at the facility. My girl Skye is a sweet natured mix breed who will run through a wall for food. My boy Huck is a Belgian Malinois who mostly gets up to mischief, as most Malinois do.
I have always loved teaching and coaching sport, which carries over greatly to the dog training world. I have a background in youth and senior ice hockey, junior AFL football, and high school track and field.
I enjoy working with high drive dogs, scent detection, puppy development, and owners who desire to achieve more than the bare minimum with their dogs. I love helping people achieve a meaningful relationship and understanding with their dog and strive to make positive and continual progress with all my clients.
Sallie Longo – Trainer
I really enjoy seeing that light bulb moment for the dog when they have learned something new and are genuinely proud of themselves. Watching the relationship and confidence grow between the dog and owner is a huge reward every time. Another part of my job is preparing foster dogs in readiness for a new home, which is an exciting time for the dog and their new family.
I have a few dogs at home that actively participate in the daily jobs on my farm property and are currently training to work small flocks of sheep.
Sigrid Herbst – Trainer
My favourite thing about professional dog training is seeing people and their dogs grow together as a team. Through coaching and confidence building in both the animal and its owner, our Academy provides a fantastic outlet for dogs to express themselves.
Storm (my Amstaff) and I like to explore and spend time in nature together. We are regularly building and developing our obedience skills, working on strength & conditioning such as weight pull, parachute sprints and balance work; we also focus on having fun together through connected play sessions.
Being the founding member of the Melbourne GRC Dog Sports Club, I am happy to pass on my knowledge and skills in this area to help committed owners provide even more opportunities for their dog to shine.
Nicole Fox – Trainer
There’s nothing more I love than watching owners fall in love with their dogs all over again, by building a truly meaningful and engaging relationship. I love providing clear feedback to owners to help both them and their dogs grow.
Reya (my German Shepherd) is my constant side kick, when she’s not helping out at work, we love going on hikes, exploring new areas, doing dog sports and hanging out together. She is a large part of what has shaped me to become the trainer I am today.
I love all things dog sport, I love the relationship it creates with the dog, and the fun both handler and dog get from dog sports. I’m passionate about passing on the skills to owners to truly have fun with their dogs and establish clear reward systems and learn the value of play.
Sharyn Thompson – Trainer
From a young age I have always been captivated by the intelligence and unwavering loyalty of dogs. Over the years I have adopted several shelter dogs, which has helped me gain a deeper understanding of the unique personality, challenges and joy each dog can bring to our lives.
I have always been passionate about helping people to achieve their goals. I feel privileged to have a job where I can assist people and their dogs learn and master new skills together.
My aim is to help people build a deeper, more meaningful relationship with their dog, and for their dogs to learn, grow and develop their natural instincts.
Learning is a lifelong process. My current dog Maya and I are constantly learning new skills, techniques, and ways to just have fun together. I look forward to working with you and your dog at whatever stage you are at in your dog training journey.
Chloe Jang – Trainer
Through fostering a number of dogs I eventually adopted a dog with significant behavioural issues. Having a dog with aggression lead my interest and passion for working with difficult behavioural cases.
My dog Sunny (staffy x kelpie) is my best work mate now. We love to work on obedience, going on daily adventures in new environments and working together in club practice at GRC Melbourne.
There’s nothing more rewarding than watching a handler and dog building trust and a meaningful relationship through training, resulting in them living a more comfortable, cooperative and enjoyable life together.
Emma Hales – Trainer
My interest in dog training stemmed from adopting my current, beautiful dog Audrey. I felt when I brought her home that I couldn’t make sense of her. Growing as a handler, I took huge pleasure in writing her a clear dictionary. These days I enjoy giving the same experience to others and watching dog/handler teams understand each other and thrive.
My most recent work has been focussed around the training and matching of guide dogs with their prospective handlers as well as making sure they have the tools to travel safely through the streets of Melbourne. This work has expanded my understanding of how humans and dogs can relate to each other and work together. I’m passionate about helping all dog owners achieve a sense of understanding their dog so as to better include their dog in their day to day lives.
Sue Purves – Trainer
Teaching (the majority in Primary Schools) and animals (dogs, horses, chooks!) have been my life. Whatever skills I have learnt and am learning I am drawn to share this with others. Apart from teaching full time I learnt to ride, studied (Diploma in Science—Horse management) and then gained my instructors qualification with the EFA.
When I got my current dog (Max the super kelpie!!) I was determined to develop his genetic instinct as a herding dog but without the availability of access to sheep. As part of my goals I completed my NTDF qualification and started training. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) I had several false starts with methods seemed to be designed to squash his herding instincts, I landed at Pro Dog and with the tutoring from David McKelson (founder and director of Pro Dog). I was then able to develop a relationship with Max through engagement, developing a communication system to teach him many skills (obedience, agility, tricks, scent work) and provide him with outlets that satisfy his instincts.
I am honoured to be part of the Pro Dog team and (of course) wish to share my knowledge and experience with others.
BENEFITS OF PRODOG TRAINING
Professional Dog Services
Highly skilled certified dog training instructors
Smaller groups of dogs to best maximise support for all owners