About the Training Team
At Overland Animal Hospital we follow science-backed, positive reinforcement based dog training techniques. We teach our dogs what we want them to do, rather than what we don’t want them to do! We do this with food, praise, pets, or toys, whichever the dog finds to be the most rewarding. If a behavior needs to be corrected, we follow the LIMA (least intrusive, minimally aversive) philosophy. For more information on this philosophy – Click Here
Our goal is to make it clear to the dog what the owner would like to see them do. We do this using marker training, pinpointing moments in time the dog makes a good choice. In addition to the training, we review ways to keep your dog happy by ensuring you are meeting their physical and mental needs. We cannot have expectations for our dogs to behave how we want if we do not give them what they need to be successful!
While the dog training field is not regulated, we do think the education behind the handling and teaching skill sets is incredibly important. As a result, we require our trainers to be certified through a reputable organization. All of our trainers are certified or in the process of being certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. This long and thorough exam can only be taken with several hundred hours worth of dog training experience and can only be passed with a true understanding of learning theory.
Meet the Trainers
Erica Bocchino- Lead Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist
Erica knew that she would be a trainer after seeing her first Sea World show at 6 years old. She majored in Psychology and Animal Sciences in college in order to start getting background knowledge on animal training. Since then, she continues her education through frequent attendance at workshops. She is certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and Fear Free Pets.
Erica explored her childhood dream of becoming a marine mammal trainer during an internship at Dolphin Cove. While it was an incredible experience, it steered her towards dog training as a career. Erica spent several years working at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in NY, an internationally accredited nonprofit that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss. She also worked at a board and train facility in order to get experience in the pet training world. Once moving to CO, she began training at Freedom Service Dogs, a well respected training school that molds dogs to become service animals for people with a variety of disabilities. Erica started at Overland Animal Hospital in 2015 and has been here ever since. Erica works with all breeds, temperaments, and behavioral issues. Erica predominantly takes on behavioral cases and specializes in dog aggression, both on and off leash.
Isabelle Miller- Dog Trainer
Isabelle earned the nickname of “beast master” when she was very young. She has always had a passion for animals of every kind and goes out of her way to be around them. She began by volunteering at shelters and dog sitting for friends when she was young. She then went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Virginia Tech. While in school, she worked as a veterinary assistant at an animal hospital in Virginia. She also volunteered to raise and train a golden retriever service dog puppy for a year. That pup is now a full fledged Autism Support Service Dog for a young boy. This is what first inspired her to look into dog training as a career, and once she started, she couldn’t stop. Isabelle then fell in love with Colorado while spending a summer working at a small wolf sanctuary in Guey. After college, she worked as a dog trainer in North Carolina for two years before making her move west and joining the Overland team! Isabelle has trained dogs for everything from service work, therapy work, agility, obedience, and trick training. She is a certified Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She loves getting to know the unique personalities of every pup she works with, and then creatively finding a way to make them the happiest and best behaved companion they can be. Her favorite quote is “To the world you are just one person. But to your dog, you are the world.”
Skylar Schmidt- Group Class Dog Trainer
Skylar began her dog training career shortly after graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Post college she found that her passion was in animal behavior which led her to enroll as an apprentice with the Misha May Foundation. Upon completion of the apprenticeship she earned a certificate as a dog trainer and behavior specialist which allowed her to begin teaching group classes on various subjects. A surprising move to Maui shifted her focus towards shelter work. Working with the Maui Humane Society she spent her time identifying and responding to the behavioral needs of individual animals in order to increase their chances of successful adoption. Eventually, her passion for shelter work brought her back to Colorado where she used her skills to help successfully adopt out countless animals at the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley. During her time at HSSPV, she pursued and attained her CPDT-KA through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Skylar avidly pursues ongoing continuing education and professional development through a variety of dierent mediums.
For more information, please call 303-922-5500.