Maestra K9 services offers consultations, evaluations, and assistance in creating and implementing behavior modification plans for dogs and humans in need. Some of these behaviors include (but are not limited to) fear, aggression, reactivity, overexcitement, leash manners, motivation, and handler focus. We also specialize in work with therapy dog teams: we evaluate, help certify, and help place teams who want to make a difference in our community.

A note from the Maestra 

(that's Teacher, for those of you who don't speak Spanish!)

When I started the Fluvanna Pit Stop in 2011, it was as a Pit Bull education, rescue, and training effort. I quickly realized that my focus was on, and really needed to be on, training. I also realized that I knew much more about training and behavior management and modification than I had initially thought. Because you see, first and foremost, I am a Maestra. You can read more about me and who I am on the next page, but I want to take the lessons that I've learned from teaching children and explain how they apply to teaching dogs.

Canine brains and human brains are very different. Humans are capable of much more complex thought than dogs. No question. That said, there are many similarities that I do not think should go overlooked. Dogs and humans alike experience a vast array of emotions: joy, sorrow, fear, anger, to name a few. Dogs and humans alike behave in ways that are gratifying to them in some way or another. I think that effective teachers work under a set of common guidelines that hold true for teaching any living thing. They are:

1. For any learning to take place, the learner must first feel comfortable in his/her environment and with his/her teacher.

2. All learners are different. They have different genes, different life experiences, different learning styles, different motivators, different intelligence two learners are identical!  

3. Learning needs to be fun!!!

4. Behavior must be constantly evaluated, taught, managed, and modified.

5. For successful behavior modification to occur, a teacher must first observe and understand the behavior to be able to create a plan to change it.  

6. While there should be consequences for poor behavior, they should never cause fear or pain. Emphasis should be placed on making good choices rewarding.  

7. To earn the respect of and the best work from their students, teachers must be kind, empathetic, engaging, inspiring, consistent, demanding, and firm....all at the same time!! "Too easy" is usually not taken seriously. "Too firm" is usually either avoided or confronted. (Note the pictures are of two amazing maestras whose legacies I hope to help continue!)


Dr Sophia Yin


Dr. Mary V. Bicouvaris

8. Meaningful, life-lasting change for students come from teachers working closely with parents/owners and other specialists such as doctors.

We must look at wellness of "the whole child" or "the whole dog" and work together!

9. The best teachers are current on the science and research in their fields, but they are also able to think creatively and individualistically about their students, their content, and their instruction.

10. While learning must have a certain amount of focus on the teacher, lessons are most powerful when they are centered on the learner. "Teach them to fish," so to speak.

I feel that it is my job to communicate and educate both handler and dog, and to facilitate conversations between you both so that learning and growth can happen independently of me. In many cases, my work with you can be done in one or two meetings: to evaluate you and your dog, to identify behaviors that need to change, to come up with a plan to change them, and to give you the tools to make it happen!!

I hope that you enjoy the many resources that I have put on this site for you. If you have questions, feedback, or would like to schedule a session, please email me. [email protected]

¬°Muchas gracias!

“Teaching is different than training. The difference is in the orientation. Teaching focuses on the relationship first, task second. Training focuses on task first and relationship second."

--- Claudine McAuliffe