About Us

Linda Michaels, M.A. Psychology, Del Mar Dog Training, serves clients in Del Mar and San Diego County from La Jolla to Carlsbad, plus Rancho Santa Fe, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills

Linda Michaels was recently rated one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States, by Top Ten Magazine. Linda has a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology (Hons), and is the creator of the Hierarchy of Dog Needs™ (HDN). She focuses on the psychological aspects of dog behavior that often mirror human psychological conditions, such as: fear, separation/attachment disorders, and aggression toward humans and other dogs. She also teaches private, customized basic manners/obedience lessons for dogs of all ages and every breed. Linda worked with some of the most difficult behavior cases at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA for five years, and then became an animal welfare advocate for positive/force-free training and non-aversive collars. Linda is a certified Fear, Aggression and Reactivity consultant. Her practice, Del Mar Dog Training, serves pet parents in Del Mar and San Diego County from La Jolla to Carlsbad, plus Rancho Santa Fe, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Linda’s laboratory research experience in behavioral neurobiology examined the interface between behavior and the brain. Linda’s unique combination of scientific training and hands-on experience with dogs and wolfdogs creates a bridge between the worlds of research, dog trainers and pet parents as demonstrated in her presentation at the Pet 2015 Professional Guild (PPG) inaugural summit: Understanding Research: Making the case for force-free training. See some of Linda’s other speaking engagements below. Linda is an accomplished author of numerous behavior articles in publications such as BARKS from the Guild (PPG) international trade magazine, the countywide UT-San Diego Scratch and Sniff column, Rancho Santa Fe Review, Del Mar Village Voice, Solana Beach Sun, Natural Awakenings magazine, San Diego Pets magazine, and Carmel Valley News. Linda is a certified veterinary assistant and the flagship SoCal Victoria Stilwell-licensed behavior consultant. She appeared as a featured expert on Huffington Post Live, Gawker.com, Wolf Dog Radio and PPG World Services. She was also a member of the Advisory Board for the Art for Barks charity, in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, and is the Behavior Advisor for the WolfEducationProject.org in Julian, CA. 

The development of the Hierarchy of Dog Needs ™ (HDN) — A wellness and force-free behavior modification guide — is one of Linda’s most significant contributions to animal welfare and training. The HDN closes the door on the perceived need and advisability of using punitive or aversive methods to train our pet dogs. It offers a clear, easy-to-use force-free alternative to some of the most popular teaching paradigms now available. The HDN is in use internationally by veterinary behaviorists, veterinarians, dog trainers (including working-dog and police-dog trainers), groomers, shelters, rescues, animal welfare advocates, as well as pet parents, and is now also available in French.

Linda Michaels MA del mar dog trainer dog psychologist san diego dog trainingMore About Linda


Master of Arts/Experimental Psychology with Distinction. San Diego State University

McNair Science Scholar

University Scholar Award. Psychology Department, San Diego State University

Behavioral Neurobiology Research

Behavioral Trials and Histological Examinations 

Certified Veterinary Assistant

FAR Beyond Licensed. Canine Aggression, Reactivity and Fear Specialist. 2011 – Current

PCT-A. Professional Canine Trainer — Accredited. Pet Professional Guild (PPG). 2015 – Current

AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. 2002 – Current

AKC Community Canine Evaluator. 2013 – Current

img_5205_2International Association of Animal Behavioral Consultants. (IAABC) Member. 2010 – 2011

Pet First Aid for Cats and Dogs. American Red Cross

Class Assistant Trainer. San Diego Humane Society

Volunteer Council Representative. San Diego Humane Society

Shelter Trainee and Volunteer. 5-year Veteran, San Diego Humane Society

Basic First Aid, Zoonoses and Animal Diseases Certified. Project Wildlife


Behavioral Advising Positions and Media

Pet Professionals Guild. Contributing Author, Professional Member, Speaker. 2012 – Current

Wolf Education Project. Behavior and Training Program Advisor. Julian, CA. 2013 – Current

Positive Pet Professionals of San Diego. Founder and Director: 2011 – Current

Art for Barks. Advisory Board Member and Contributing Author. 2013 – 2016

U~T San Diego. Scratch ‘n Sniff Columnist. SD’s Countywide Newspaper.  2012 – 2013

1074288_571493969558977_1456544694_oNatural Awakenings Pet Magazine. Roving Pet Reporter Contributing Writer. 2011 – 2012

Rancho Santa Fe Review, Del Mar Times, Solana Beach Sun and Carmel Valley News. “You and Your Dog” Columnist. 2009 – 2010

Head Trainer and Behavioral Consultant. The Daily Pet, Del Mar Highlands. 2006 – 2007


Speaking Engagements

  • Pet Professional Guild Inaugural Summit Speaker. “Understanding Research: Making the Case for Force-Free Dog Training.” Conference 2015. Tampa FL
  • Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training First Annual Member Conference.  “Science-Based Dog Trainers and Science: Research Counts.” Roundtable with Linda Michaels, MA and Victoria Stilwell. 2013. Atlanta, GA
  • Del Mar Solana Beach Rotary Club Speaker: Morgan Run Club & Resort, 2016
  • Hotel Indigo Del Mar, Bow Wow Brunch Speaker. “Dog Park and Dog Beach.” 2014. Del Mar, CA.
  • Hotel Indigo Del Mar, Bow Wow Brunch Speaker: “When and How to Train Your Dog!” 2014. Del Mar, CA
  • Point Loma Veterinary Clinic. Lunch and Learn Presentation to Staff. 2014. Point Loma, CA
  • Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society. McKenna Long & Aldridge, Mini Behavioral Consultations and Celebrity Judge. Rancho Santa Fe, CA
  • Pet Orphans of Southern California Shelter, “Top Ten Things to Teach Your Dog.” Van Nuys, CA
  • Veterinary Presentation, Lunch and Learn, VCA Animal Hospital. Encinitas, CA
  • PAWS Fiesta, Mini Behavioral Consultations. San Diego, CA
  • Annual Doggie Street Festival, Adoption Event. “Ask the Trainer” Professionals Booth. San Diego, CA
  • Cavalier Circle, “Positive Reinforcement and Top Ten Things to Teach Your Dog.” VCA Hospital, Sorrento Valley, CA
  • Strut Your Mutt, Best Friends Animal Society “Ask the Trainer”. Los Angeles, CA
  • Positive Pet Professionals of San Diego (PPPofSD), “Non-Aversive Training.” Encinitas, CA
  • Yorkie Lovers Meetup, La Jolla, CA
  • Westie Rescue of OC Benefit, Mini Behavioral Consultations. Huntington Beach, CA
  • Take Your Dog to Work Day, Seminar: “Positive Reinforcement and Your Dog.” Carmel Valley, CA
  • Three Dog Bakery Pet Store, “Ask the Trainer”. Del Mar, CA
  • Pupologie Pet Store, “Ask the Trainer”. Encinitas, CA
  • Babies by the Sea Boutique,  “How to Keep Your Baby Safe and Your Dog Happy”. Cardiff By the Sea, CA
  • Muttropolis, Seminar: “Pesky Pooch Problems?” Solana Beach, CA
  • Saks Fifth Avenue, “Dog Days of Summer” Event, Dog Psychologist Behavioral Consultations. La Jolla, CA