Our Trainers

We have multiple trainers at each class so we get to know you and your dog and there is always someone available to answer questions. We’re a team and we’re all here to help you and your dog succeed.

Liz Palika with Sisko, her Australian ShepherdLiz Palika is the founder of Kindred Spirits Dog Training and has been teaching dogs and their owners in San Diego North County for more than 30 years. Liz has been active in a variety of dog sports over the years, including agility, carting, conformation (dog shows), competitive obedience, flyball, Frisbee competitions, herding, lure coursing, schutzhund, search and rescue (including tracking and air scenting), scenting games, therapy dog work, and weight pulling. She is an AKC CGC evaluator, #4182, a Certified Dog Trainer, and a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant. Liz has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including USA TODAY, PARADE magazine, and many radio and podcast personalities. GOOD MORNING, AMERICA  sent a film crew to interview her during the disastrous pet food recalls of 2006/7. She was awarded the San Diego Channel 10 Leadership Award and the North County Times Women of Merit Award. Liz has been writing professionally since 1985 and has written for most of the major pet publications, general interest magazines, as well as many major blogs, including Embrace Pet Insurance and the Honest Kitchen’s blog. Many of Liz’s books have been recognized for excellence.  Most recently her column on dog behavior, “Behavior Conundrums” won Best Regular Column from the Dog Writers Association (2015) and her book, “Idiot’s Guide: Dog Training” won Best Non-Fiction Book from San Diego Book Awards (2014). Liz, Petra and Kate record the popular podcast, “It’s a Doggy Dog World.” Available from Pet Life Radio and I (heart) Radio, this podcast has fans from all over the world, including Europe, Australia, South Africa, and China. Although the subjects most often discussed are training and behavior, anything dog related is fair game for a discussion. Liz shares her home with two Australian Shepherds, Bashir and Sisko; one English Shepherd, Bones; and three cats, Spock, Scottie, and Kirk.

 Petra Burke has been training with Liz Palika for almost 30 years after having attended Liz’s classes with a challenging German Shepherd, Hans. Now a business partner and co-owner of Kindred Spirits, Petra teaches group classes, is a CGC evaluator # 26916. Petra has a special interest in working with disabled dogs, especially those with vision or hearing issues, and dogs who have lost a limb. Petra shares her home and mini-farm with one Australian Shepherd, Rio; one English Shepherd, Poncho; two Pomeranians, Keely and Benji; one ten year old Morgan horse named Raz; and several chickens and cats.

Kate Abbott is a business partner and co-owner of Kindred Spirits with a long history of working with dogs. She, like Liz and Sue Dewar, was previously a veterinary technician and Kate also was a handler and trainer with a canine surety company for several years. Kate has been with Kindred Spirits for fourteen years and teaches group classes, does all of KS’s private training, is an AKC CGC evaluator, #38967, and is an apprentice behavioral consultant with Liz.  Kate is a past president of Love on a Leash and Kate’s dogs, Walter and Qwill, are both certified therapy dogs. Kate visits at local nursing homes weekly.

Dawn McMahon has been a trainer with Kindred Spirits for seven years. She is an AKC CGC evaluator #51903. She assists and teaches the basic obedience classes as well as puppy, CGC, intermediate and therapy dog classes. Dawn is also instrumental in keeping KS running smooth as she helps in the office.  Dawn has a particular interest in fun canine activities and with her dogs she enjoys therapy dog work, tricks, scenting games, fun agility, and carting. She is exploring Rally now and hopes to compete soon with her youngest dog, Finn.

Jo Duffy has been a trainer at Kindred Spirits for more than ten years. She has a particular interest in canine body language and fun dog activities. Her English Shepherd, Toby, who is now seven years old, tends to be fearful in certain situations but has made great progress. Because of his fear issues, Jo has a passion for helping anxious dogs feel more comfortable. Jo discovered KS a number of years ago when her Rat Terrier, Dinky, was in need of more activities and the two of them attended basic obedience classes, trick training, agility, and more. Besides Toby, Jo also has a second English Shepherd, River, who is four years old who loves scenting games, lure coursing, agility, and trick training.  Toby and River can be seen doing demonstrations in classes. Jo is KS’s IT professional and we’d be lost without her. Jo is also an AKC CGC evaluator, #76654.

Sue Dewar is an apprentice trainer with Kindred Spirits but has a long resume working with dogs and other animals. She was a veterinary technician for many years; not just for dogs but also exotics. She has also been active in rescue; fostering, rehabilitating, and training dogs often considered ‘untrainable’ until they were adopted to new homes. She has also trained therapy dogs, and dogs who worked on TV shows and in the movies. She presently shares her home with her most recent rescue, Matisse, a Jack Russell Terrier mix who was born with neurological problems; Opie, a Miniature Pinscher; and Tanner, also a Miniature Pinscher. Tanner was a wild child when he came to Sue but he’s made huge progress and is now a lovely, well behaved, social dog.  Sue has a special interest in working with deaf dogs and dealing with children and dogs issues.

Deb Lee is an apprentice trainer with Kindred Spirits. She can be seen doing therapy dog visits around town with Indy, her 5 year old big lug of a German Shepherd Dog. Deb has a special interest in working with dogs and children.

Julie Hernandez is an apprentice trainer with Kindred Spirits.

Kei Laliberte is been an assistant trainer with Kindred Spirits, helping with all classes but especially the first time that puppies and their owners come to class. She is a CGC evaluator, and has two English Shepherds.

See what we teach in our basic obedience class and our puppy class.

Our dog training articles cover a number of problem solving solutions as well as tips on how to teach your dog.

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