Trainer Tips

Meet our trainer!

Dana Lynn VanSickle


Dana has been working with homeless animals and the humans that love them since 2004. Over the years she has provided hundreds of hours consulting on behavior and helping adopters get started on the right paw with their new dog or cat.  Dana has also worked with a variety of exotics, including chimps, tigers, coyotes, bison, a kangaroo, and various farm animals. She is particularly fond of horses, a former member of the University of Virginia riding team, handler at several PATH Accredited equine therapy organizations, and operations lead at the Doris Day Equine Center in Texas. She has fostered countless dogs, many with special needs; currently, she and husband Ryan share their home with Georgia SPCA alumnus "Hope Rising."

Dana holds a B.S Organizational Leadership & Management and is also currently enrolled in the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior. She continues her education in animal behavior through seminars across the country, and has completed courses with the Karen Pryor Academy. Dana is a Shelter Behavior Affiliate (SBA) of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Pet Professional Guild member, Association of Professional Dog Trainers member, and also a candidate for the Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed certification (CPDT-KA).

Dana first came to CMACC in early 2016 as a Dogs on the Run volunteer. She participated in various programs here before being recruited as an Assistant Animal Trainer. The rest, as they say, is h​istory! Her training methods focus on positive reinforcement and force-free guidance. She believes that in teaching dogs to live in our strange human world, we must always have the dog's wellbeing at heart.

Considered a crossover trainer, Dana affirms, "anybody can force or intimidate behaviors out of an animal, but it takes skill and deference to build a relationship with an animal and then inspire them to work with you." In all of her efforts, Dana hopes to help people understand animals better. To quote animal behavior expert Temple Grandin, "We owe them a decent life and a decent death, and their lives should be as low-stress as possible… I wish animals could have a good life, with something useful to do."​

trainer dana with dog