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Meet the owners                                             Certified Professional Dog Trainers - Knowledge Assessed

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Carol A. Byrnes,
owner / instructor


Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed since 2004 / APDT Professional member / Associate Member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants / Member of the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals / Charter member of the Association of Force-Free Pet Professionals Guild / Head Trainer at the Pawsitive Dog Prison Training Program at the Airway Heights Correction Center / Owner of Diamonds in the Ruff

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Dana L. Byrnes,

owner / instructor


Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed since 2004 /
APDT professional member,

Owner of Diamonds in the Ruff

Carol & Dana opened Diamonds in the Ruff in 1996 with the goal of providing positive, dog and people friendly training for Spokane's pet owners. Their goal is to not just teach the mechanics of training, but provide instruction that helps their students develop an understanding of how dogs learn and view the world.  (more About Us)


Behavior is the number one killer of pet dogs. More dogs are euthanized for bad behavior every day than are euthanized for overpopulation. According to the Humane Society of the United States, only 35% of all family dogs live out their natural lives with their original owners.


It is estimated that over 65% of the dogs surrendered to shelters across the country have a behavior problem that could have been prevented with early training, or could have been solved had the owners known some basics about dog training and behavior.


Dogs owned by humans who understand canine behavior and a few simple key components of learning theory will raise dogs who will become cherished members of the family. These dogs are more likely to remain in their homes permanently. We also understand that most pet owners do not want to be training "experts." They have busy lives and other priorities.


We and our staff of great trainers will strive to give you the tools you need to teach your dog to be the best friend he can be. Carol has developed a curriculum designed to meet the needs of families and their canine friends.



"What is My Dog Saying? - Canine Communication 101"
"WONDERFUL lecture & time well spent! I highly recommend anyone attending ~ whether you've been around dogs all your life, are adopting that first family member or already volunteering at local rescue, shelter or sanctuary... there's always room for improvement & something new to learn! **Highly Informative** and taught in positive & friendly environment that encourages audience questions. THANK YOU, Carol Byrnes & Diamonds in the Ruff - Training for Dogs & Their People for being amazing resource for the animals in our community!!"


- Mary Charbonneau, Washington Basset Rescue (WABR)

Meet Your Instructors

Travis Byrnes, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer -
Knowledge Assessed

In-home behavior counseling
Pawsitive Dog Prison Training Program

Diane Baker
APDT member, NADOI endorsed instructor
e class instructor
Ruff Revue
 Freestyle dance troupe member


Travis grew up surrounded by dogs and immersed in dog training with his parents, DITR owners Carol & Dana.  He began assisting classes at DITR in 1996 when Diamonds in the Ruff first opened. After taking a break to start a family, he returned to assisting duties again in 2011 and took on full charge instructing duties in 2014.  He sat for the CCPDT exam to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and passed the test in April of 2016.


Travis shares his home with three human kids, two Silken Windhounds, and three cats.  In addition to teaching at both our locations, he also volunteers with Carol as a class instructor for the Pawsitive Dog prison training program at the Airway Heights Corrections Center, starting in 2018. Travis offers private training and in-depth behavior consultations.

Diane taught with Carol & Dana at Lilac City Dog Training and The Family Dog in the early 90's and has been a DITR instructor since we opened our doors in April of 1996. Diane has a soft spot for rescue dogs and helping them find success in with their new families.  Her interests are competing in Canine Freestyle (dancing with your dog) and Rally FrEe. 


Diane loves tricks, games and relay races and brings them to all of her classes, especially the Foundations 2 Fabulous and Holiday Manners classes.  Her classes are always fun and will leave you and your dog smiling.  Diane coordinates all performances of the Ruff Revue dance troupe, bringing smiles to area nursing homes!

Amy Barker, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed, APDT member, owner Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile
In-home behavior counseling

Amy is a dedicated and focused trainer, assisting and instructing at Diamonds in the Ruff for many years.  Amy is an avid clicker trainer and in addition to teaching beginning through advanced classes, she leads the Tails & Trails hiking and snow shoeing class.  In 2012, Amy passed the exam to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.   She and husband Dan are owners of Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile on Regal just N of 57th and in Kendall Yards.  Amy also provides in-home behavior consultations and day training.

Vicki Barker
Agility Instructor

CGC & Tricks evaluator

After 35 years of customer service, Vicki finally retired. Now she can concentrate on more fun stuff--like dog training and dog sports. She adopted "Silly Sally" the border collie from Othello Rescue in 2010. "She has been the dog challenge of my life. I believe dogs teach us as much as we teach them." Vicki and her border collies, Sally, Oliver & Henry enjoy competing in agility. Vicki created "Me & My Dog" with her daughter Amy Barker.  In 2014, she added "Agility for Fun" to our summer class offerings.  Vicki is an AKC Canine Good Citizen & Tricks evaluator and offers classes and testing year round.

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Dakota Eckenroth
In-home behavior counseling


Dakota is a fun and inspiring teacher who will keep you laughing.  She grew up with dogs, but it wasn't until she started volunteering with rescues in Los Angeles that she discovered her passion for working with them. While trying to break into the film industry she filled her free time volunteering, starting with simple walks and working up to basic training classes with under-socialized dogs. She started a job at a doggy daycare, which also sold high quality pet food and products. This is where her passion for helping dogs be the best they can be, from behavior to nutrition, began.  She started at Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile in the Spring of 2016 and became an assistant at DITR in the Spring of 2017 and a full charge instructor in 2019.  She enjoys teaching our many advanced classes, especially Total Recall and Brain Games.  Her classes are always energetic and fun!

Arielle Dykes
Private Lessons
New Level Connection


Arielle and her husband are owned by two dogs who are the same breed, but very different personalities.  Fernie is a petite little Rat Terrier who is shy and worried and Louis is a larger, athletic Decker Rat Terrier who is bold and scrappy.  Arielle brings a flexibility and deep toolbox to her ability to help our students.  Her dogs have taught her much about the need for adjusting approaches based on temperament and individual needs.  Arielle's teaching skills go beyond dog classes.  She is also a ski instructor during the winter months on Mt. Spokane.  Arielle joined our Ruffian team as an assistant in the Fall of 2018 and became a full charge instructor in 2020.  She also offers private lessons and behavior consults.

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Taryn Winegardner,

CGC, Tricks, & Parkour evaluator
Pet Partner, Behavior

Love, Hope, Dogs LLC        Email

Taryn believes that each dog is a gift who comes into our lives for a reason, and teaches us exactly what we need to learn so we can grow into our full potential as kind humans and leaders.

In her first dog, a yellow lab named Milo, Taryn learned just how much love a dog and human can share, bringing joy with every breath, and flattering her into thinking she was a pretty good dog trainer! He loved to show off his fabulous tricks and go everywhere with her, enabling Taryn to do things she may not have been able to without such an amazing partner (from backpacking, to beaches, to the alpaca barn, he was always at the ready!) Milo gave Taryn his strength so that she could eventually find her own.

Eva brought hope when Taryn needed it most, helping her shape her life and purpose when life’s many challenges seemed too great to face. “Hah! You had better up your training game there, mama!” said Eva (a blue standard poodle) and sent her deep down the dog-training rabbit hole, while making sure there is laughter every single day (and at a little over 2 years old, Eva already has more fancy letters behind her name than her entire family, with more to come! In Spring of 2020, Taryn's household grew when Bella the standard poodle puppy joined the family.  She's keeping things hopping!

Taryn passed the exam to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in April of 2021 and is a Canine Good Citizen and AKC Tricks and Parkour evaluator.  In May of 2022, she became an International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants Accredited Dog Trainer (IAABC-ADT).  She is a member and instructor with the Coeur d’Alene Dog Fanciers, and she and her husband enjoy caring for Ru (12 year old pit/ridgeback rescue), and Snoopy & Max (retired racing greyhounds), and volunteering with Greyhound Pets of America.  She joined our team in the Spring of 2019, and her own training business called Love, Hope, Dogs in 2021.

Thanks to the lessons of her many amazing dog and human teachers, Taryn is now able to support other teams in their growth and development, helping both ends of the leash learn to become true partners and enjoy their lives together. She is passionate about using current, scientifically proven training methodology in building strong foundations and solid relationships, so that each team can move towards their individual goals while enjoying their work and partnership.

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Allison Miller
Pet Therapy Skills class Instructor
Delta Pet Partner Evaluator

Pawsitive Dog Prison Training Program

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Michelle Brady, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed
Instructor-Assistant, CGC Evaluator
Pawsitive Pups LLC - Ruff Revue

wsitive Dog Prison Training Program

Allison has had a lifelong love of dogs and became interested in dog training years ago when she got her Lab/St. Bernard mix, Olive, certified to be the Pet Therapy Dog.  Since then, Allison has trained two more dogs (St. Bernards Bertha and Margaux) to become certified Pet Therapy Animals.   Allison and her dogs volunteer at Sacred Heart Medical Center, Gonzaga University, and Ronald McDonald House and has been involved with providing Pet Therapy since 2011.


When Allison got Margaux, she began her training with Diamonds in the Ruff, Puppy K all the way through Canine Good Citizen.  Allison loved the positive, no force principals that Diamonds uses to train their clients (dog and human) and jumped at the chance to become an assistant to learn more herself and to help others to have a wonderful, enriching relationship with their canine companions. 


Allison teaches classes at our Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile South Hill location and also teaches the Pet Therapy Skills Class to help students achieve their goal of becoming pet therapy teams.  She is an Evaluator for new and renewing teams for Pet Partners, an international organization that certifies Pet Therapy Teams.

Michelle has a passion for all animals. Her family has included a dog for most of her life and she’s always trained them with compassion and love. In 2018 she took home Kai: a sweet 80lb 2.5 year old mixed breed with separation anxiety that his previous owner couldn’t solve. This led Michelle to research modern force-free training. She believes all companion animals can and should be trained without fear. Diamonds in the Ruff has the same training values, so when presented with the opportunity to assist with classes, Michelle saw a way to follow her passion, helping pet owners teach basic skills and make their lives easier.


Michelle has been a class assistant since Spring 2021 and became a full charge instructor in the Fall of 2022.  She is an AKC CGC evaluator and can help you reach your goal of having a Canine Good Citizen.  She and her Mini-Australian Cattledog/Jack Russell Terrier mix Wasabi have completed their first Tricks titles, are members of the Ruff Revue freestyle dance troupe, and are looking forward to lots more fun in the years to come! 


Michelle met all of the requirements to sit for the CCPDT exam in March of 2023 to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed.  

Hayley Jewell
Shelter Volunteer - Ruff Revue
Delta Pet Partner - P
awsitive Dog Prison Training Program
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Julia Engstrom

Hayley had been volunteering at the Spokane Humane Society when she met Maverick, an unclaimed stray with an infection in both of his eyes. Maverick ended up losing one of his eyes but that didn’t stop him from going on to participate in the Pawsitive Dog prison training program at the Airway Heights Corrections Center. Maverick became a part of Hayley’s family after graduating from the program in April 2020. Shortly after that, Hayley and Mav began attending classes at Diamonds in the Ruff and she quickly realized the joys that come with attending classes with your dog! They were both hooked!


Once she and Mav reached the advanced level classes, they discovered a love for Rally FrEe, Canine Freestyle and Parkour. In the Fall of 2022 Maverick and Hayley passed the Pet Partners evaluation to become a Pet Therapy team.  She joined the teaching team at The Airway Heights Correction Center dog training program in May of 2024. 


Hayley believes that attending classes and positive–reinforcement training can increase the bond with your dog and bring a deeper connection to the relationship. As an assistant in the Headstart and Prep classes, she looks forward to sharing these joys with you.

Julia's interest in dog training started after adopting her border collie mix, Loki, in 2018. She has studied animal behavior and psychology at Gonzaga University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Psychology in 2019. She quickly discovered that training helps to build a strong, powerful bond between a dog and their owner. She went on to complete Canine Good Citizen certification at Spokane Dog Training Club with Loki when he was 6 months old and continued to explore the world of dog training by taking several competitive obedience and rally classes with SDTC. They eventually came to Diamonds in the Ruff in the summer of 2019 to try their hand (and paw!) at agility.

Julia was instantly drawn to the friendly, positive-only training style at Diamonds in the Ruff, and she loved doing agility with Loki. Later that summer, she brought home Luna, an 8 week old border collie. She completed several Diamonds in the Ruff training classes with Luna, quickly advancing from Puppy K to Prep school; and on to advanced Canine Good Citizen, off-leash Trails and Tails, Tricks, Agility, and Rally Free-style classes and became an assistant trainer with Diamonds in the Ruff in the winter of 2020. She enjoys helping others to build a strong relationship with their dogs though positive training methods, and hopes to help students discover their own passion for dog training. 

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Sarah Bollig-Dorn

Sarah was excited for the invitation in 2021 to join the Ruffian team as an assistant. She and her husband started as students at DITR when Fezzik joined the family as a bright but fearful young rescue dog. She became invested in learning about dog training, behavior, and body language, and they completed 7 classes with Fezzik. A couple years later, Gus the pandemic pup was a crash course in a different kind of dog, one who runs full bore at new experiences. She's enjoying the chance as an assistant to learn even more from the great instructors at DITR and all the dog & human students - their quirks, personalities, needs, and achievements. As a dance teacher of 18 years (and counting!), the classroom is a comfortable space for her. She's looking forward to learning so much more about helping dogs & their people.

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Ali Blakney

Ali moved to Spokane from Arizona in the fall of 2021 with her husband, two dogs and two cats. She reached out to DITR immediately for help with her reactive puppy, Hendrix. Hendrix had an unfortunate start to life and as a result he is an anxious and fearful fellow. With the help of Taryn and DITR, Ali and Hendrix both got the help and support they needed to help Hendrix feel more comfortable in the world and his own body. Having a dog with such big feelings about life and learning how to help him pushed Ali to switch from pursuing a degree in neuropsychology to a career in dog training and canine behavior. She credits her extremely supportive spouse and the folks at DITR for helping her find this new passion for helping people and their dogs navigate this weird world we live in. 

Emily Ladd

Emily’s background is in customer service. She’s worked at a variety of businesses, including coffee shops and dog daycares in the Seattle area. In Spring 2021, she joined the team at Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile, which led her to taking a variety of classes with Diamonds in the Ruff. Emily and her spouse have three dogs with very different personalities: mellow Pit Bull mix Jess, dramatic Corgi Sodapop, and spicy rescue Corgi Blueberry, who might have a big voice but is always eager to work. Emily loves helping students grow stronger relationships with their pups through learning and having fun together!  She became an assistant trainer in Spring 2023.

Former Staff members that you still might see around the Ruff House from time-to-time.

Nancy Zietlow
Assistant - Ruff Revue member
Kim Imel, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed, 
APDT Professional member, 

Pet Professional Guild member

Nancy is always fun, positive and professional and sets our students at ease.  She has been assisting for DITR since the early years!   Nancy and her Aussies Dewey & Schuyler enjoyed dancing with the Ruff Revue freestyle dance troupe since its inception where they created some pretty clever dance routines. She is now joined by her new dance partner, a Border Collie named Cosmo.  Nancy is also a long-time member of HEART - Humane Evacuation Animal Rescue Team where she has been dispatched to help rescue animals from floods, hurricanes and other disasters.

Kim taught a variety of classes at DITR, from beginning through advanced.  Kim began assisting in 1998, moving into the role of lead instructor in 2000 and passing the exam to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in 2012.  She is a retired veterinary technician with over 25 years in veterinary medicine.  She left us to work at Carrington College where she instructs their Veterinary Technician Courses.

Not in the Spokane area, but looking
for a positive trainer near you?

Additional Resources

Dr Megan Bauer, DVM
Latah Creek Animal Hospital

Dr. Megan Bauer is a graduate of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.  She is a small animal general practitioner with a special interest in behavioral medicine, especially canine anxiety, canine cognitive decline, and feline behavior.  In addition, she is Fear Free Certified.  Megan loves agility training with her dogs Remi and Oliver.  Megan joined our team as an assistant in March of 2018 and is always available to advise us on veterinary related questions and concerns.

Dr. Megan Cathey is a  small animal veterinarian with a special interest in the behavior and welfare of dogs and cats.  She has taken additional training in this area, and provides behavior consults.  As a veterinarian, she is able to evaluate, diagnose, develop, and implement a treatment plan for behavior problems for your pet, including Rx care.  Dr. Cathey started offering behavior consults for dogs and cats at our training studio in November of 2014.  Her moblie veterinary service is Gentle Veterinary Housecall Services.

Also check out the Force Free Trainers list.

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