​Serving areas of CT and NY, including:

Northern Fairfield County
Northern Westchester County

Putnam and southern Dutchess

Remote puppy consultations available anywhere in the US

Dog training and behavior services available in the following towns:

Armonk, Bedford, Bedford Hills, Bethel, Brewster, Brookfield, Carmel, Chappaqua, Cross River, Danbury, Goldens Bridge, Katonah, Mahopac, Mt. Kisco, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, North Salem, Norwalk, Oxford, Patterson, Pawling, Pound Ridge, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman, South Salem, Southbury, Weston, White Plains, Wilton.

Please ask if your town isn't mentioned above -- you may be in my travel zone.

Virginia Dare of North Star Canines, 804.784.0120, in CT/NY

Email:  virginiadare2013@gmail.com

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Testimonials

Virginia has been so great with our puppy Rex! She is super thoughtful and kind. And we really appreciate her post-lesson feedback. Virginia has been very responsive to our needs/goals and timeline and we really enjoy working with her. Would highly recommend and we are excited to continue working with her!

~ Meena N., Stamford, CT

Virginia’s positive reinforcement techniques have transformed the lives of our two young rescue dogs. One of them, a beagle, was so stressed-out by his pre-rescue existence that he suffered from uncontrollable diarrhea. He was nervous with us and it sometimes was impossible to persuade him to come into the house – even for his meals.  The other, a Jack Russell mix, had been abused before the Humane Society took her into its care. Whenever she spotted a stranger, she would set up a nonstop bark and lunge aggressively.  Both dogs now are socialized after just a few training sessions and it is a pleasure to watch them trot up to people for petting sessions.      

~ Sharon C., North Salem, NY

Virginia is a dog whisperer! She is helping me to see things through our puppy's point of view. Her lessons are tailored to our dog's individual needs and our training goals. After each lesson, she e-mails a very thorough review of what we went over (half of which I would forget without the e-mail), including attachments with handouts and videos. I am so happy we called her because I feel we are getting our puppy off to a good start!

~ Nancy W., Carmel, NY

Virginia is a gift. I was losing hope with a new puppy who, after 2 weeks, would not settle in at night. I was desperate before our scheduled in-person appointment so Virginia kindly offered me a phone consult. Her wholehearted desire to help is so evident in her voice... patient and compassionate. Her skill and knowledge helped my new puppy sleep through the night right away without any distress... and our family as well. What a great service when you need help and can’t wait.  My sincere thanks!

~ Debbie L., Ridgefield, CT

Virginia is simply fantastic. I adopted a rescue dog with some fairly serious behavioral issues, and with her guidance I was able to resolve them. I never could have done it without her help and encouragement. She is warm and positive and fun to work with.

~ Jennifer L., Dobbs Ferry, NY

Virginia was very pleasant, professional and knowledgeable. She offers pragmatic advice and solutions, and thoughtfully takes into consideration the whole family picture, and works within it. Her positive methods have helped calm our dog and make life better for everyone in the household. I would highly recommend her!

~ Sara M., Greenwich, CT


In the short amount of time that my dog & I have been training with Virginia, I have seen a marked improvement in the behavioral issues that I am determined to correct. Her methods work!  She is a kind & encouraging teacher who has given me hope, & has convinced me that my 6 year old Schnoodle is not a “lost cause”! By using positive reinforcement & treats, along with a detailed review & follow up, we are well on our way to a happier living situation!

~ Wendy M., South Salem, NY

Virginia was amazing. Working with her helped me further understand my dog's triggers and how to work through them. I am thankful we found her and would highly recommend her to anyone who needs training!

~ Jeff S., Danbury, CT
 

Virginia is a fantastic trainer!  Her ability to understand you, your dog and the family dynamics is impressive.  Her advice is custom tailored to your situation and reflects her in-depth knowledge of how dogs learn (and us humans, as well).  She is a coach and cheerleader to every family member, whether four or two-legged.  You never feel rushed during a training session and she follows each one up with an email full of goodies: a personalized summary of the lesson - often broken down in manageable steps, hints, and suggestions.  Virginia often includes links to helpful internet sites and always invites questions.  I know from personal experience, she responds promptly!!  

~ Carol K., White Plains, NY
 

We have worked with Virginia for a few sessions and it has made all the difference in the world. Her approach is common sense and we love the way she respects the dog and helps us to work with him. Our guy is a rescue and a challenge and we've reached out to Virginia via email and have gotten great timely advice. Right now we working on crate entry and I soldiered through with her advice and it works. We all look forward to our sessions with Virginia.  Highly recommend her.

~ Martha G., Mt. Kisco, NY

Virginia is nothing short of amazing. With her calm but upbeat demeanor she captures and holds our puppy’s attention each time, with incredibly rapid results. Of course I realize it’s really me she’s training, but that’s OK. There aren’t enough clicks and treats to reward this lovely, skillful and experienced trainer.

~ Lori H., Armonk, NY

We just completed 4 sessions with Virginia for our boxer puppy, Banner -- what a wonderful experience! Her advice is practical, useful, and easy enough for both my 11-year-old and 9-year-old daughters to utilize when helping train Banner. She's also given us so many helpful tips on best items for puppies and money-saving tips on treats that help motivate our pup! Highly recommend!

~ AnnMarie C., New Fairfield, CT

After trying several training sessions elsewhere, our “little one” had learned her commands but would not listen. She’s a good dog but has a mind of her own. I decided to try private lessons. After seeing her method on heeling demonstrated in Virginia’s video and then in just one session, I can see improvement already. Ammi (although not perfect) will now listen to my commands. Using Virginia’s techniques, Ammi sits and lies down as never before. And, the impossible command - heel - is becoming a reality.


These results are amazing. But the thing I like most about Virginia is her gentleness, love and understanding of our Ammi – the caring that creates these almost miraculous results. She is a pleasure to work with and I would trust her with my baby without a second thought.

~ Carol S., Brookfield, CT

Virginia is terrific! I feel so grateful to have her help training my 7 month old German shepherd. I met Virginia through her foundations class which she does a great job teaching. She listens well to people's questions and responds thoughtfully, kindly, and without judgment. In class, she explains the training process, giving examples of situations in which a specific skill will be important and explains the rationale behind training methods. She uses only positive reinforcement.


More importantly, Virginia is helping to train my dog, Heidi, and me at home with private lessons. These have been the biggest help! Heidi is very fearful and barks a lot at people she doesn't know. During our first lesson with Virginia, she detailed the steps we should take to introduce a visitor to Heidi and how to begin practicing with Heidi gradually so she could be successful.

 

We're working with Virginia now to get Heidi more comfortable out in public. Virginia's knowledge and experience are both broad and deep. The pages-long post-lesson report she emails is very useful to refer back to for reminders. Virginia is a very nice person to work with and clearly loves animals and wants them to be successful. I recommend Virginia whole-heartedly!

~ Anne H, Rye, NY

Virginia has been fantastic! With new baby on the way, we were worried about how our very spoiled miniature schnauzer would adjust to someone new grabbing all the attention.After just two visits, we already feel infinitely more prepared for baby's arrival later this month.

​~  Ann G., New Fairfield, CT

I met Virginia years ago at a Clicker Expo in Newport, RI. I was wowed!

 

Virginia is a delight to be around. She clearly understands dog behavior and can offer suggestions that are spot-on and effective. Not only is she talented, she is funny, empathic, encouraging and supportive; even if I thought I was ready to throw the towel in!  Check out her video, The How of Bow Wow, as well.  

~  Karen R., Mamaroneck, NY

Virginia Dare - the best dog trainer for us and probably you too!

 

I would recommend Virginia Dare to anyone who has any type of dog training need.  She is professional, warm, easy with pets and children as well as adults.  Virginia is non-judgmental, patient, attentive and truly loves animals.  Her pricing is reasonable and if I have any future needs, I am going back to her!  There are levels of training – even if your dog is already good with basic commands, she can get him/her and you to the next level.  I have a rescue who had a number of behavior problems (jumping, nipping, uncontrolled enthusiasm) – much of this is related to his age, but Virginia gave us tools that reduced and even eliminated his poor behavior.

Training approach – Rewards-based

 

  • Responsiveness & Availability – Any question I had I was able to ask her either during the training session or in follow up (email or phone).  Virginia’s goal was to ensure we were getting the behavior we wanted to see.  Whenever I had to reschedule a training session, she was very flexible and understanding.

  • Overall character – Virginia is someone I’d love to call a friend – she is warm and friendly and is kind and consistent with everyone!  I’d thought my children (both 9) would be ‘in the way’, however, Virginia included them in the training sessions and it was great!  My daughter became very skilled in training our Ivan.  Virginia is very gentle with everyone and has a refreshingly open view of living with dogs.

  • Follow-up – Virginia always followed up after each training session to ask if there were questions.  She provided detailed reference for us that we could review and more deeply understand the ‘why’ of the training.  She did explain everything during the training, but it was very helpful to have written material to refer to afterwards.

 

  ~  Lois Lawerence, Brewster, NY

Virginia was wonderful and truly helped our family understand our dog. I would highly recommend her!

~  Maria N., Mt. Kisco, NY

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Virginia worked with my Aussie, Milo, for a number of weeks, during which time he learned to focus, walk on a leash, sit, stay, come, wait patiently for other dogs to get their treats first, among others. The best part about Virginia is her kind, gentle and sweet manner with the puppies; she makes them so eager to do the work for her!!!!

~  Melissa H., Armonk, NY

I just had my third visit with Virginia. I can't say enough about her professionalism, knowledge and love for your animals. When I first phoned Virginia I was extremely concerned about my dog Willow. I have a three dog household and Willow was causing havoc. 

Virginia was available to come in just a few days...what a relief.

The most interesting fact about Virginia is she works with the whole family, not with just the one dog you asked her to help you train. All her techniques involve positive reinforcement. She teaches the owners how to train their dogs in order to maintain a peaceful household. The insight she has is remarkable and she has a way of having it all come together. Upon leaving she asks you to follow up with her and she checks to see if you understand her management plan.

 

What really sets Virginia apart from the other dog trainers is how the day after meeting her she emails a well thought-out management plan that was discussed with you the day before. This is such a wonderful tool to refer to when training your animal. She then continues to be available to you through email. It is so refreshing to see how well someone understands my dog. Additionally, her techniques have provided me with excellent results. I have recommended Virginia to many people I know and will continue to recommend her because you will definitely be happy with the results you will see.
~  Lisa Gregory, Newtown, CT

Virginia has the experience, knowledge and patience to work with frustrated owners and problem dogs.  I wasn’t getting satisfactory results from other trainers I’d consulted and worked with.  My next step was a call to Virginia.  We met and worked with my dog who was reactive and acted aggressively when on leash.  She worked wonders helping me to understand my dog’s behavior and how to solve his problems. I could see results almost immediately.  My dog is now relaxed in situations in which he would have previously acted out aggressively.

I have and will continue to recommend Virginia to friends and acquaintances for all their dog training needs.
~  Sue & “Cisco”, NJ

Virginia Dare is a premier trainer with an innate ability to positively communicate with dogs.

I had a scrappy, undisciplined, yet timid 3 month old toy poodle puppy named LuLu. Now LuLu is a gem thanks to the excellent training/boarding experience. Virginia demonstrated that gentle instruction, without frustration, produces positive results. It was like she and Lu were speaking a private language. Watching Virginia with Lu and the other dogs, I realized Virginia has a special talent not bestowed on most.

Lu was not even concerned when I was leaving, which was very unusual because she would never let me out of her site. Lu was immediately at ease with Virginia. When I picked Lu up a week later, she knew all of her basic commands and was also a more confident and a peaceful puppy.

I unequivocally recommend Virginia Dare.

~  Joan C., Glen Allen, VA

Virginia came to our home to help us with our two dogs, a boxer and a bulldog.  One issue they had was that if someone came to our front door, they would bark and jump and sometimes they got so excited they would snap at each other, something they would not normally do.  In her kind and expert way, she was able to teach us how to correct that behavior. Now having a visitor at the door is pleasant instead of chaos!  We continue to use the advice she gave us. We highly recommend her service.

~  Ann D., Sherman, CT

General is a Pomeranian that we adopted in February of 2014. After a short while, we realized that General needed some additional training.  My vet recommended Ms. Dare at North Star Canines. We couldn't believe the improvement after just one session!

 

Prior to our session, General was too scared to use the dog door.  He would have accidents in the house, including peeing on delivered mail and marking other areas around the house. His barking was also out of control.  He would wake us up at 2 am every morning to go out.  She worked with General for over two hours. With her guidance, General went back and forth through the dog door. What a relief!  She also provided directions for the other issues, and the accidents stopped and the demand barking cooled off!  He also slept through the night!!! 

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Her training was priceless and made our lives a hundred times easier. I highly recommend her.  We could not be more delighted with the results!

~  Surita M., Richmond, VA

I first met Ms. Dare over 15 years ago when she provided an in-service on canine training at the veterinary clinic where I was working. I was impressed then with her gentle training techniques, the clear results of the training and the obvious affection that her canine companions had for her. Her training methods were in sharp contrast with other trainers who had come to the same veterinary setting. Over the years, in my practice as a veterinarian, when asked for a recommendation for an animal trainer, Virginia's name always came to mind.

​Most recently, she has aided me in the training of my own young and impulsive Labrador Retriever. Her recommendations were easy to practice at home and the lessons reinforced on dvd. Two lessons were scheduled at her home where I had the opportunity to see at least a partial collection of her references on training - it was quite impressive and evidence of her dedication to the art of animal training. I would recommend her, without reservation, to anyone looking for assistance with their pet's education.

~  Marissa Gonzalez, DVM, Lakeside Animal Hospital, Richmond, VA

When we adopted our black retriever mix, Axel, from Pen Pals, we thought, "What could be easier? A certified Canine Good Citizen who needs a good home -- that's for us!"  And for the most part, Axel has fit right in with our family of four.  Our girls, 13 and 9, adore him, and he's wonderfully behaved with them. Our two cats were much less excited about an exuberant, inquisitive 10-month old dog coming into their lives.  Axel wants nothing more than to play with them, but we had a couple of close encounters of the slightly scary kind in the beginning.  One call to Virginia and she came and spent more than an hour giving us some great redirection tips for Axel and showing us lots of techniques to keep his attention on us, rather than the kitties.  Virginia's patience and expertise put all of us at ease.  She's made such an important difference in Axel's transition to full-fledged member of our family.  We'd recommend her service to anyone.  She's a wonderful trainer and we're so lucky to work with her.

~  Scott and Kati Brown, Richmond, VA

What my dog was like before we worked with Virginia:  anxious, reactive to dogs and people including children, chases cars and anything with wheels, herds geese.What my dog is like after working with her:  not as anxious, greets people and dogs in a calm manner, cars and wheels do not bother her, enjoys watching geese fly by. What a difference she has made in the life of my dog.

~  Cabell West, Richmond, VA

Ms. Dare is one of the most knowledgeable professional trainers and seminar presenters that I know.  Dog training seems to come naturally to her.  She has a way of explaining scientific terms so they are easy to understand.  For me, one of the most telling signs of a great trainer is how her dogs behave.  She always has five or more dogs of varying sizes and temperaments and they are all so well-behaved.  When I am stumped with a training issue, I call her and she always has good suggestions to help me.

~  Connie Snavely, Owner of Happy Tails Dog Training, Madison Hts., VA

After adopting a young dog from our local shelter we decided that it would be a good idea to work with a trainer. Our sessions with Virginia were wonderful. She was able to work on several behaviors during each session. Her method of demonstrating the steps and then having me do a number of repetitions gave me confidence. Following the sessions she emailed me literature about the  training covered that day which helped to reinforce everything for me. Working with Virginia has added tremendous quality to our life with Gracie. The entire experience was a pleasure.

~  K. Taylor, Goochland, VA

Over the Christmas holiday, we boarded our two golden retrievers for a week.  The puppy, Gracie, needed basic training, and the four year old, Maggie, needed socialization as she was a rescue dog and appears to have been neglected or abused as a puppy.  Virginia has five dogs that live in her home, though it is certainly not obvious as they are very well mannered and the home is neat and clean. Maggie was right at home with her new friends and blended into the pack beautifully.  Normally very skittish, she truly was over-the-moon happy!  Gracie needed basic training:  sit, come, down, settle (on your bed, in your crate), don't touch the food (off).  Virginia accomplished so much with her in one week, it was phenomenal!  With three boys at home, I now need her to come by to teach them how to work with Gracie so we all are consistent.  

I would highly recommend Virginia Dare as a trainer for your dog, and frankly, have done so with two other friends who have young dogs.  Thanks!

~  Barbara T., Richmond, VA

Ms. Dare is amazing.  Over the past four years, I've seen her train more than 20 inmates to be exceptional dog trainers at the largest maximum security women's prison in the North/Mid East.  To date, well over 110 dogs have been trained and adopted to families, with a current CGC success rate of over 90%.  Yes, the shelter dogs are beautifully trained, but perhaps more importantly, her grace, care, clarity, patience, and commitment have created healing and transformation in the lives of human beings that most of society have given up on.  Each of us would be fortunate to have Ms. Dare in our life.

~  Susan Perry, Counselor at Fluvanna Correction Center for Women, Troy, VA

It’s my pleasure to recommend Ms. Dare.  She is an extremely skilled, kind, and patient professional dog trainer, and I’m certain you and your dog would benefit from her services.

She was instrumental in training our Jack Russell mix, Poppy. We obtained Poppy through Pixie's Pen Pals, which takes rescue dogs to prisons in Central Virginia and teaches inmates how to train them. The dogs then become available for adoption.  She taught the inmate trainers who worked with Poppy. We met those inmates and watched them work with Poppy. They were very skilled, which is a tribute to Ms. Dare, and they spoke very highly of her, as did everyone associated with the Pen Pals program.

We felt we needed additional instruction on dog training after we adopted Poppy, so we hired her to work with us at home. The instruction and demonstration she provided was invaluable, and Poppy is doing extremely well. Because of her dedication and skill, we now have a beautiful, loving, well-trained dog. Poppy brings a wonderful tone and energy to our household.

~  Timothy C. Jackson, MSW, Richmond, VA

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804-784-0120