We're proud to provide a great group of trainers, all with a wealth of knowledge in all areas of dog training and behavior. Please read their bios and contact us to schedule a time to meet with trainer you'd like to work with!
Shannan Hall-Nutting, BS, ABCDT, CPDT-KA
Shannan is a Certified Dog Trainer through both the CCPDT (CPDT-KA) and Animal Behavior College (ABCDT), a CGC/STAR Puppy Evaluator, APDT Rally-Obedience Representative and graduate of The University of New England where she received her B.S. in Psychobiology (Animal Behavior) and education in the cause, function, development & evolution of animal behavior. Shannan and her husband founded Finish Forward Dogs, Inc in 2009.
Growing up in midcoast Maine, Shannan lived with Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Goldens, Labs and an Alaskan Malamute. It was Shannan's undergraduate research that led her to the field of animal welfare, teaching shelter dog obedience classes and working as Co-Manager for an emergency animal shelter temporarily constructed to house over 300 dogs seized from Maine puppy mills.
Shannan made her way to dog training after acquiring her American Staffordshire Terror (sorry, Terrier), Brina, who she credits with teaching her the most valuable life lessons.
"It's amazing what you learn about yourself as a human when all you really set out to do is learn a bit about a poorly behaving little dog...Brina and I began training in obedience and agility and any other dog sport we could find. Now more than eleven years later, I owe great thanks to my own dog, Brina, for teaching me the value in quiet patience, clear communication, consistent leadership and a very healthy sense of humor. I would not trade the challenges Brina and I faced at the beginning of our relationship for anything in the world because it's always the struggle that makes us stronger. She's just a dog, but she's my 'heart' dog."
Shannan apprenticed under Kimberly VanSickle and Amy Allenwood, both CPDT's at The Animal Welfare Society in West Kennebunk, Maine before moving on to teaching obedience at a large dog training facility in Portland. It was there that Shannan worked alongside Teri Robinson, CPDT before assuming the position of Director of Training where she taught up to 15 classes a week and directed a team of three additional trainers.
Now living in Southern Maine, Shannan and her husband share their home with their FOUR active dogs (ARCHX Brina CGC, RL1X, RL2X, RL3X, RN, TT, UWP, Maverick RL1, Deucey-B TT and Willow). Willow is the newest addition to the pack - an AmStaff who joined the family in June of 2013. Willow is training in Conformation, Obedience, Flyball, Weight pull, Rally and Agility. Sadly, May of 2010 marked the loss of their 8 year old shepherd mix, Tucker TT, after his battle with Mast Cell Disease. Sleep soundly, sweet Tuckey.
Shannan and her dogs enjoy competition dog sports and spend their free time training and trialing in Competitive Obedience, Rally-O, Agility, Weight Pull, DockDogs, Tracking and various other activities.
Professional credentials: B.S. Psychobiology, University of New England, Cum Laude; Honors Graduate and Mentor Trainer, Animal Behavior College; AKC CGC/STAR Puppy Evaluator; APDT Rally-O Representative, American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) Apprentice Tester.
Rebeccah Aube, CPDT-KA
Paws & Ink!
Rebeccah took her first steps with a dog in “heel position." She grew up in a house full of Shetland Sheep dogs with a mom who loved to show in competitive obedience. It was a natural progression for Rebeccah to follow in her mother’s footsteps, working with two shelties and a collie in obedience before the age of 15. All three dogs held obedience titles in both the United States and Canada.
As a member of several different obedience clubs and captain of the Flyball MAINEiacs, Rebeccah actively competes in both sports and coaches her flyball team. She also attends seminars and classes in order to stay up-to-date with the newest training methods and ideas, and has earned her CPDT accreditation (Certified Pet Dog Trainer).
Rebeccah’s training style is a blend of intuition and creativity which enables her to deliver uncomplicated and effective solutions. She has a deep understanding of the dog/human bond and communicates clearly in both realms.
Rebeccah is currently owned by 4 dogs, a Westie, a Border Collie, a Jack Russel Terrier and an Aussie. The dogs compete in flyball, obedience, disc dog and dock diving.
Meredith (Merri) Button
B.S Animal Behavior, CPDT-KA, AKC CGC/S.T.A.R Evaluator
Meredith (Merri) Button started her animal training career as an assistant beluga whale trainer at the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration in Mystic, CT. She began dog training as an apprentice trainer at a large doggie daycare in Portland, ME under the guidance of Shannan Hall-Nutting. When Finish Forward Dogs Inc. was opened in May 2010, Merri was invited to teach classes at the studio. In late December 2010, Merri’s husband Tom accepted a nursing job at Duke Hospital in Durham North Carolina. While in Durham, Merri managed the dog training program at Best Friends Pet Care, where she taught classes, private lessons and did board and train. In May 2012, Merri and Tom moved back to the Greater Portland area to be closer to friends and family. Merri and Tom share their home with Meka (5yrs) CGC, TT, RL1, RL2, a mixed breed dog adopted from Lucky Pup Rescue and Opi S.T.A.R Puppy (7mos) another mixed breed from Maine Lab Rescue. Merri, Meka and Opi enjoy learning anything new and currently compete in Rally Obedience, they are training for Weight Pull, Obedience, Companion Dog Sports Program and anything else they can get their hands/paws on.
Merri enjoys helping people better their relationships with their dogs by teaching them how to use clear communication and form lasting connections. She finds it very rewarding to watch the dogs learn what their handler’s are asking of them as well as watching the bond grow between dog and human. From her experience working with a variety of animals and her own dogs she has learned the importance of patience, consistency and to enjoy the little things in life. Merri teaches Puppy Kindergarten (AKC S.T.A.R Puppy), Companion Dog I, Companion Dog II, Companion Dog III and AKC CGC prep class. Just for fun she teaches an Introduction to Dog Sports Class and a Backyard Agility class. Finally she is also a part of Finish Forward’s Behavior Modification Program, helping owner’s and dogs navigate through behavior problems such as dog reactivity, aggression, and frustration.
Danielle Renaud, B.S.
Danielle is a full time vet tech at Southern Maine Veterinary Care and a parttime/hobby trainer at Finish Forward Dogs in Saco, ME. She has been training and working with dogs since 1999, and currently lives with her husband, her pack of dogs and occasional foster, barn cats and chickens. Her oldest dog is Ryder, an APBT mix who has come leaps and bounds from her scared of life ways, to earning championship titles in rally, weight pull and earning passing scores for her AKC Canine Good Citizen and her American Temperament Test Society's Temperament Test. She is currently (at 9!) practicing for her CH Title in WP, Barn Hunt, and Obedience. This is her heart dog, and although looking at her, you may not see much, it is their journey that has led Danielle to more and more training education.
"Its not so much the titles or the ribbons or the tired happy pup on the couch, but its how we get there that matters. The training is the most fun for me, and I can't forget that."
Her personal dedication to weight pull, and her eagerness to problem solve training challenges, has earned her spot as a head trainer at Finish Forward Dogs Inc, helping many students along the way, earn titles in WP and learning a wonderful outlet for their companions (all while developing a Weight Pull Program alongside owner Shannan HallNutting.) Whether it be for beginner carting, competitive weight pull, speed sports or regular conditioning, she can help you find the right program, and motivations for your dog. She cherishes the bully breeds, but has aided in titling poodles, toy breeds and mixes, northern breeds, beagles and other shelter pets as well. Her back knowledge of animal medicine has also helped her develop some conditioning programs as PT for her personal dog, Panzer who is retired from competitive weight pull, but pulls light weights for exercise to prevent muscle atrophy. She can teach the foundation of weight pull without forgetting the safety precautions, and benefits of proper conditioning. She will help your dog have fun, forget its a job, all without the risk to the health or well being of your companion.
Her program at Finish Forward Dogs Inc, and her faithful students have also aided in bringing UKC Weight Pull to Southern Maine, by helping inspire a club with other diligent members, called the United Dog Sports of Northern New England. The UDSNNE also is licensed in obedience, rally, conformation and barn hunt. While her other dogs aren't chopped liver, her current APBT Panzer has also titled in WP, Rally, and working in Nosework and Barn Hunt. Her newest dog Wesson, a rescued boxer who is starting his career late, in rally and obedience and he's undecided about weight pull!
Between volunteering at CanAm sled dog races and titling dogs in UKC weight pull, she has also worked hard with her shy dog, earning their AKC CGC, ATTS TT, RL1, RL2 and ARCH. Danielle has participated and demonstrated in local Bite Prevention demonstrations, as well as worked the basics in bite work and sports such as Personal Protection and French Ring. She has attempted to try everything she can, and in turn it has taught her many techniques in problem solving training and bonding with her dogs. It helps her communicate to her clients the importance of having fun with your dog while teaching them a job. The best thing she could have done was adopted dog after puppy after dog, that no one else wanted.
Cindy Ratner is one of our agility instructors. She has had dogs since birth and has been training and competing with her dogs since the 1980’s. Her training emphasizes relationship, communication, and foundation. She is known for being very clear and motivational with her instruction and for holding classes that are relaxed, yet challenging. Her goal is to provide flexible instruction so as to meet the needs of the hobbyist as well as those of the serious competitor. Cindy has lived with and/or trained dogs from every group, including mix-breeds and rescues. Her dogs have competed in and hold numeroous titles in agility and obedience, have dabbled in herding and conformation, have modeled for print ads, and television commercials and have done therapy work. Her dogs have had several national and regional top ten rankings in multiple sports. Cindy was bitten (pun intended) by the training bug while spending childhood summers hanging around her aunt’s obedience school. She has been an instructor since the late 1980’s when she taught both pet and competition obedience for Vacationland Obedience Training Club. She has conducted therapy groups for special-needs individuals with dog phobias and designed a self-awareness program for at-risk teens using dog behavior, training, and husbandry as a model. She currently teaches agility classes and seminars and offers private instruction in agility, pet obedience, and does behavioral consultations. Cindy lives in Cape Elizabeth with her husband, Jim, her son, Eli and her daughter, Delaney(when she is not away at Umass), who is also an accomplished agility competitor and instructor, having placed at and won several national championships, as well as the inaugural Westminster Kennel Club Agility Championship. They share their home with 5 dogs and one very tolerant kitty, Mabel.
You can reach Cindy at email@example.com.