Meet Our Dog Trainers 2018-04-04T10:50:22+00:00

Meet Our Dog Trainers

Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, Training Manager

1857e14f-d8a3-497d-a2e4-5eade0ff1a19-1Jen moved to Austin from the frozen North – Madison, Wisconsin in 2014, with her dog and her cat, and hasn’t looked back since!

She is a multi-species trainer and veterinary technician with years of experience in dog daycare and boarding facilities, animal shelters, sanctuaries, vet clinics, and private training. Jen graduated from the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy as a Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP) and is also Pet First Aid Certified through the American Red Cross. Jen is a member of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the Pet Professional Guild, and Doggone Safe, a non-profit aimed at educating children and their families about bite prevention.

Over the years, Jen has been privileged to work alongside some amazing animal trainers and has experienced teaching and learning with all kinds of animals including dogs, cats, pigs, goats, horses, and even fish! She is forever grateful to her favorite college professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and renowned animal behaviorist, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Ph.D, CAAB, for opening her mind to the wonderful possibilities of animal behavior and learning.

While dogs have always held the biggest place in Jen’s heart, some of her proudest accomplishments have been training other species – clicker training a “project pig” to come, sit, and touch a target stick with his nose, training cats to go through mini agility courses, and even using a laser pointer to light train a Betta fish to swim through a hoop for a food reward. Jen is very passionate about positive reinforcement training and truly believes that every animal deserves to learn in an encouraging, compassionate way that deepens the bond between them and their handler.

Some of her favorite jobs include: working as a trainer out at Dogtown in the gorgeous Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, an adoption counselor/cat caretaker/trainer at Austin Pets Alive!, and as the manager of a luxury boarding facility, supervising up to 30 off leash dogs in play groups in Madison, Wisconsin.

Since moving to Austin and becoming a foster parent through Austin Pets Alive, Jen has acquired a few more pets as a “foster failure”! She now lives in South Austin with two dogs, 7 cats, Betta fish, a few varieties of tarantulas, and scorpions. She is preparing to eventually enter graduate school with a focus on animal behavior, specifically how emotional and psychological well-being is affected by environment and enrichment. She enjoys hiking, reading any training or animal behavior book she can find, and playing guitar and ukulele.

Jennifer Bridges, Trainer

Jennifer has spent the last 12 years working with chimpanzees, first as a caregiver and for the past 5 years, has been a positive reinforcement trainer for the chimps as well as various other monkeys. She heard about DogBoy’s through a friend that was working for the Ranch as a trainer and thought it sounded like a fun place to work! Making the choice to join our team was easy, Jennifer loves being around dogs and really enjoys teaching pet owners positive training techniques that improve the lives of the pups and humans. Outside of work, Jennifer stays very busy dedicating her time to volunteering with horses, inmates and international zookeepers. She is also an avid traveler and makes a point of taking at least two trips abroad each year; she wishes she could fit in more!

Sarah Alvarado, CPDT-KA, Trainer

Sarah discovered a passion for training and behavior when she took her first dog home from a local shelter while attending Texas A&M University.  Throughout college she worked in a veterinary office.  She graduated with a degree in Animal Science in 2007 and began teaching group puppy and obedience classes in 2010.  In 2014 she began working with service dogs.  For three years she worked with female inmates in the Texas prison system teaching service dog training and handling.  Sarah is committed to continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences to improve her knowledge and skill.  In September of 2017 she became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed.  She shares her home with her husband, a 13 year old blue Heeler, a 5 year old Catahoula, and two 9 year old cats.

Whitney Spence, Trainer

Whitney joins our team with experience as the head trainer for a local branch of PetCo. After a stint as a production assistant for several commercials and a Lifetime Network movie, Whitney felt inspired to return to her training roots. A good friend and former co-worker, who was already working for the Ranch, encouraged Whitney to come aboard and share her skills! Whitney most loves helping pet parents and their fur-babies build a stronger relationship as well as spending time with the dogs and promoting a mentally and physically healthy environment for them to learn and play in. When not at work, you’ll find Whitney playing video games, film making, script writing, working on film sets and teaching her brood of pups tricks. She has a full house of rescue dogs to practice with, including a 7 year old Dachshund named Ginger, a 1 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Soju, a 6 year old Jack Russell/black Lab mix named Hollywood, her 2 year old Border Collie mix, Kimchi, and Bailey, a 7 year old black Lab. An 8 year old cat named Izzy also calls Whitney’s home her own.

Clara Scott, Training Assistant

Clara was a dog trainer with PetCo prior to joining our team in 2017. While searching for her next move within the pet industry, she found DogBoy’s and just couldn’t wait to be a part of the ranch! She has a passion for learning about dogs and finds great joy in playing with and caring for the pups each day.  Clara’s furry family includes a Chihuahua mix named Oreo and 2 Guinea Pigs named Augustus and Achilles. Keep an eye out for her infectious smile!

Zac Russell, Training Assistant

Zac started his animal career in 2011 when he was attending the Art Institute of Austin for graphic design. Zac began working with animals at the Austin Humane Society and he found he had a real passion for rescue. Zac loved seeing so many animals find great homes and new family members. He found himself needing a change of pace and then he stumbled across this little slice of heaven- Dogboy’s Dog Ranch. Zac loves coming to work everyday and loves being around people who share the same passion as him. It’s really an incredible environment to work in, and the dogs agree as well!