Meet Us

Meet Us

Whitney Thurston, CDBC Owner and Head Trainer

In 2022 Whitney became Downeast Maine’s only Cerified Dog Behavior Consultant, and one of only four in Maine certified through the IAABC as having expertise in working with fearful and aggressive behavior problems. She has been training dogs for 9 years, after adopting a fearful, reactive and very salty Siberian Husky mix named Lana and becoming interested in dog training and behavior modification. Through the years, Lana has taught Whitney the compassion, patience, and communication skills necessary to help other reactive, anxious, and fearful dogs grow and thrive. She started Salty Dogs with goal to help other dog lovers in the Blue Hill and Downeast areas learn how to effectively communicate with their dogs and help them build lasting relationships. In the past 9 years she has worked with literally thousands of Downeast dogs and owners on everything from puppy skills to reactive dog behavior to healing interhousehold aggression to nosework and tricks. Whitney lives in Brooklin with her husband Travis, dogs Lana and Tessa, and twin toddlers (!) Alice and Colm.

Jasmine Pratt CPDT-KA, Trainer

Jasmine became interested in dog training when she got her first Husky, Poppy. Knowing that huskies are very high drive and high energy dogs that are also very sensitive, she began learning about the world of force free training. Putting what she learned into use, Poppy was incredibly easy to train, and allowed Jasmine and Poppy to build an incredibly strong and powerful bond.

After Poppy, Jasmine got her first malamute, and in trying to train the same way she trained her husky, she learned that not all dogs are the same. This forced her to rethink ways to train using force free methods. At this challenge, she dove a little deeper into that world (and also patience, because malamutes require more time to think about what they want to do!)Throughout her years of dog companionship, Jasmine has learned much about dog body language, the science behind dog behavior and how to help with reactive behavior, as well as the very important lesson of Not Taking Every Single Thing Personally (a hard lesson for all of us with difficult dogs).

While learning everything she could about the way dogs think and communicate, Jasmine also learned a lot about herself which helped define the way she lives her life. In her own words “Force free training has helped me in every section of my life. I am a mom of three and I have taken a lot of what I have learned about the dogs I love so much, and put it into my parenting style. Force free isn’t just a training style, it’s a way of thinking, of acting, and it’s constantly growing. My goal is to help other people think a little differently, and understand and communicate a little better with their best friends, building those lasting bonds.” Jasmine teaches most of our classes on MDI as well as our Adventure School program.

Shelby Sullivan CPDT-KA, Trainer

Shelby came to dog training as so many of us do, by adopting a fearful dog. Her now six year old Scarlet pushed Shelby to want to better understand behavior and body language. She’s an expert in enrichment and communicating with learners at both ends of the leash. Shelby is passionate about helping every owner better understand their dogs: their needs, why they do the things they do, why they can be so frustrating at times, and how to best communicate with them. As Shelby has learned first hand through her experience raising Scarlet, the entire journey of being a dog companion is to create a lasting relationship with your dog, and that’s what she aims to do in classes: create a rewarding, strong bond. Shelby teaches many different classes at Salty Dogs including puppy classes, classes focused on building obedience skills, classes for adolescent dog problems and sports like agility and nosework too!

Violet Zerbe, Trainer

Violet is a Chicago native from away here to stay after falling in love with Maine nearly ten years ago. She now lives and farms off grid with her husband, daughter, a “moonagerie” of livestock , their cat John (aptly named because he purrs like a tractor) and last but far from least, their dog Tsuki. Violet and Tsuki are trainees on Maine Search and Rescue Dog team and they love training in the woods but first and foremost Tsuki is a beloved family pet and companion. Part of why Violet got into dog training was to grow her knowledge and help her own salty dog reach her potential on and off the “job”. 

Cole Mastroserio, Office Administrator & Assistant Trainer

Nicole, or as she is now commonly known as, Cole, is our office administrator and assistant dog trainer. Her interest in the world of dog, cat, and human behaviors grew exponentially when she worked with rescues in Maine and in Florida, and finally kicked off when she was able to receive some hands-on training by Whitney while Whitney volunteered time to work with rescue dogs at local shelters.
 
Cole has found the principles of force-free positive reinforcement not only have helped her provide better care to shelter dogs but also be a better person to those in her life. She has several special needs cats that she trains at home to help them relax and coexist with each other, and she looks forward to the day her living arrangements might make room for a dog (or several).