Certified Dog Trainers - Tustin Team
All Trainers are certified or working towards certification (CPDT) - the only independent nationally recognized program providing the most up-to-date positive reinforcement training.
Gretchen Mavrovouniotis, PhD, CPDT - KA
I got my start in dog training when I volunteered at a local animal shelter in 2001. Around that time, I had heard about clicker training and started using it with both my own dogs and the dogs at the shelter. I joined the Wags & Wiggles Apprenticeship Program in 2007, passed the CPDT-KA exam, and became a trainer at Wags & Wiggles in Tustin when it opened.
I have come home from work proudly covered in dog hair for the past eight years. So when I started working at Wags and Wiggles in 2011, I fell in love with the company. Throughout my years at Wags, I have done a little bit of everything, but I found my true niche was working hands-on with the dogs. As a result, my role at Wags is split between working in our big dog room as Operations Manager and as a trainer with our behavior and training team.
Whether teaching an excited puppy how to walk with a loose leash or helping a reactive dog make a progressive breakthrough, Wags' positive reinforcement methods are enjoyed by the dog, the owner, and the trainer.
My passion for animals is something I was born with, and I have worked with a wide range of species. I spent a few years volunteering at my local wildlife rescue center, traveled to Thailand to work with elephants, and recently returned from an internship at a conservation center working with big cats.
I have loved working with all different types of animals. However, the deeply rooted bond between dogs and humans is incomparable. Dogs are the best!
A few months ago, I officially became a dog mom and adopted Frida, a Xoloitzcuintli, from Mexico. So now I spend most of my free time making sure my former street dog is living her best life!
I was always the kid who tried to rescue and bring home every type of animal under the sun, to my parents' exasperation. My love for animals, especially dogs, has always superseded most things.
I got a second job in college as a dog walker and soon realized how much I loved working with dogs. I knew I wanted to make a career out of spending my days with furry friends and eventually found my passion in training.
Wags has made it possible for me to do just this and has bettered me as a trainer in so many ways. I am beyond grateful to have found Wags and be a part of a training team that takes pride in their ability positively impact the lives of dogs and their humans alike!
Karen has owned dogs all her life but became involved in agility training and competition in 2001 and soon became addicted to the sport. She competes with papillons and has cumulatively earned 55 MACH titles on four of her dogs. Karen has competed in AKC and USDAA agility, and her papillons have regularly qualified for and competed at the AKC Agility Invitational and AKC Agility Nationals, making it to the finals round several times.
Recently relocated to Laguna Niguel, CA, from the Charleston, SC, area (she’s a native upstate NY’er, also residing in Boston and Indiana along the way), Karen has taught agility classes and seminars at all levels since 2003; she believes in building a strong relationship with your dog and utilizing positive reinforcement training techniques to have fun and be successful in the agility ring.
Karen has a data processing background and spent ten years of her professional career with IBM. She has served as a licensed AKC agility trial secretary and an active AKC agility judge since 2010. In her current real-world life, Karen is a licensed residential realtor. She looks forward to joining the Wags family as an agility instructor!
I have always loved animals and thought about how cool it would be to work with them; any animal, but mostly dogs! The unconditional love and loyalty they have to offer is what draws me to them. In April of 2018, I adopted my pitbull mix, Jazzy (now ten years old!), and she changed my world. She is my inspiration and reason for choosing the path of spending most of my days covered in dog hair and giving constant belly rubs and chin scratchies.
My dog training journey only began recently when I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. One long look at Jazzy later, and I had my answer: dogs. Dogs are my passion, and I want to help them all–well, as many as I can–through training. The ultimate dream is to help dogs and their humans work together and to help shelter dogs-like my Jazzy once was- find their forever homes.
Wags has allowed me to dive fully into the world of training and learn all I can. I learn something new daily, meeting and working with new dogs and even with dogs I am already familiar with! Seeing the dogs improving their skills and being able to help them get to that “lightbulb” moment is incredibly rewarding and is something I will never get tired of.