Instructors

Dianna M. Young

Dianna M. Young, author of Award-Winning Think Like Your Dog and Enjoy the Rewards, is co-owner of Stella Ruffington’s Doggy Playcare with her husband, Jason, is a certified professional dog trainer, specializing in behavior, who can bring her training services for you and your dog right into your home.

That means that both you and your pet can acquire and polish important skills where you are most comfortable and most confident. It also means that her training sticks, because she works with you and your dog together, and forms you into a smooth-running and effective team. And before she is done, she teaches you how to keep that team running efficiently at a level you might not have thought possible.

Dianna’s professional background is extensive. Not only is she highly qualified to teach all levels of obedience work, but her training and experience as a behaviorist mean that she can analyze and correct problematic canine behavior that spans a range from separation anxiety to aggression.

Since 1997, Dianna has operated Camano Island Kennels, a training and boarding facility about an hour north of Seattle on Puget Sound whose client list continues to grow through word-of-mouth by those who have been delighted with her results. In December of 2011, Jason and she acquired Stella Ruffington’s, and have combined this West Seattle operation with their Camano Island one in order to offer area dog owners as wide a range of professional services as possible.

Dianna began her dog-training career in Europe in the late 1980s. She served as an apprentice for three years there at the Heilbronn SV Training Facility in Heilbronn, Germany, studying under several master trainers. During those studies, she participated in the training of dogs for police work, personal protection, security, search-and-rescue and other vital canine services, working most often with breeds such as Rottweilers, Malinois and German Shepherd Dogs.

Returning to the USA, Dianna continued her studies at a nationally accredited school for the training of professional dog trainers, studying canine behavior, animal husbandry and dog training from top to bottom. After successfully completing school, Dianna worked for several years in New York state as a veterinarian technician while also teaching adult-education classes in canine behavior for the Central School District of Marlboro, New York. She also served in New York as an Animal Control Officer, and managed a shelter and holding facility with a capacity of 103 animals.

Moving next to Connecticut, Dianna apprenticed in New Milford with John M. Henkel, a world-renowned master trainer. She taught alongside him for the employees of many security and law-enforcement agencies in the Northeast, and also helped to train dogs for use in personal protection and estate protection by dignitaries and celebrities of many countries.

Back home, finally, in her native Pacific Northwest, Dianna founded her own training and consulting services. She also spent two years as a consultant on canine behavior and as in-house dog trainer for PETCO stores in King and Pierce counties.

Dog owners come to Dianna for help with a wide range of canine issues. She teaches seminars and classes in dog-handling for the personnel of rescue organizations, shelters and veterinary hospitals, and has been selected by some veterinarians to provide training for themselves and their own dogs. The American Kennel Club has named Dianna an official evaluator in its AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, authorizing her to judge whether canine candidates meet the AKC’s high standards of good manners and qualify for a Good Citizen certificate.

Dianna is former reserve Deputy Sheriff, a position that she held for a decade, and was Camano Island’s lead Animal Law Enforcement Officer for fifteen years. She graduated in 1999 from the Animal Control Officer Academy and in 2000 from the Reserve Law Enforcement Academy, both of which operate under auspices of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. She has given expert testimony as a witness in animal-related criminal cases in Washington and New York, and in 2002 she assisted Montana law enforcement officers in the successful investigation of alleged animal cruelty involving a case affecting 171 dogs.

Since moving to Camano Island, Dianna has excelled with her own personal service dogs in national and international competitions, attaining the Number One position in the United States and the Number One position in Canada for her dogs in their respective classes.

Jason Young

Jason Young was raised in Alaska, and started out life in a military career. When he met Dianna he was a senior noncommissioned officer in the Army’s elite Green Berets, with whom he had served several combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was in the Army in the Middle East, in fact, where Jason first encountered highly trained canines and discovered how valuable they were to him and his men in combat. He and his squads worked with the dogs nearly every day or night, and came to rely on them for their dependable skills in sniffing out roadside bombs and other potential booby traps and in providing physical protection for their human partners on combat patrols.

Jason’s life changed dramatically after he met Dianna. He left the Army with two Bronze Star Medals and an honorable discharge after 10 years of service, deciding to work professionally with dogs alongside her. Together they have operated Camano Island Kennels, a top-rated training and boarding facility that has been voted “Best Kennel” for several years in a row by people of Snohomish and Island counties.

Jason’s military training developed and honed his skills as a manager and as an instructor. He served during combat operations as trainer and senior adviser to Iraq’s 36th Commando Battalion. He also commanded and advised a counter-terrorism unit of 80 Iraqis, and trained and advised other forces, both foreign and American. Now he’s making excellent use of the instructional and organizational skills that he learned from the Army. Since leaving the military, he has instructed Washington state law-enforcement agencies in close-quarters combat, and has provided canine training for some of those agencies.

Jason draws upon his years of military experience for many things. He uses it, for example, to teach people and their canine partners to function together in the efficient, nearly flawless way that his military units did in the Middle East. But his duties go beyond that. Besides providing dog-and-people teams with standard obedience training, he also examines behavior-modification techniques with the staff members of veterinary clinics and animal shelters, and teaches the staffs how best to interpret canine body-language. Jason also is a certified official evaluator in the AKC (American Kennel Club) Canine Good Citizen Program, in which he is authorized to test dogs and qualify for certificates those that meet the AKC’s high ten-part standards of good manners at home and in the community.

Most of the dogs that come to Jason and Dianna nowadays come for basic or advanced obedience training, not for the kinds of life-saving skills that so impressed Jason in the Middle East. Still, his introduction to canines in combat impressed him dramatically with how much dogs are capable of accomplishing, and he has put that knowledge to good use in setting high standards for the canine students that he teaches in his role as professional dog trainer.