Julie Benson 


Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to working with animals. Although initially my career path took me in a different direction, I still managed to find myself involved with pets in some capacity. I volunteered at an animal shelter, rescued and fostered animals, and even worked at a doggy daycare. Then a few years ago, while reading Karen Pryor's Reaching the Animal Mind, I was introduced to a new, positive way of thinking, training, and teaching, and my world was forever changed. I left behind my career as an art educator, enrolled in the Karen Pryor Academy, and became a certified training partner. Since then, I have found a network of the kindest, most knowledgeable trainers I could ever have the good fortune to call colleagues.

While a student at KPA, my husband and I adopted a four-month-old Australian shepherd rescue named Scout. I quickly learned that Scout was not your typical, happy-go-lucky puppy, and he had some special needs. Although he absolutely adored his new mom, dad, and doggy brother, Scout became incredibly fearful of other people and dogs and was eventually diagnosed with fear aggression and generalized anxiety. Like many owners in this situation, I was overwhelmed and overcome with frustration. With the help of a wonderful veterinary behaviorist and my KPA instructor, I saw firsthand the power of positive reinforcement and clicker training as Scout grew into a happier and more confident dog. He has given me new insight into how emotions, especially fear and anxiety, can affect training and daily life with a dog. Scout's progress continues to inspire me every day, and I draw on my experiences with him to help others communicate successfully and bond with their pets.

What I really love about the A Sound Beginning Program is its focus on building a relationship with your dog through trust, communication, and empathy. Dogs and humans may not speak the same language, but with A Sound Beginning, you are connected to a community of like-minded individuals who are truly dedicated to helping you understand your dog’s canine communication, their own special “doggy language” that will give you insight into their emotional state of mind. From the perspective of both a shelter employee and a rescue mom, I cannot stress enough how wonderful it is to have a program that helps the newly adopted dog adapt to life in their new home with an approach that is completely positive and proactive.

My greatest joy as a trainer is seeing each dog-owner pair grow together as a team, and helping each team find their own individual level of success. Since receiving a second chance to fulfill my childhood dream, it's no wonder I am drawn to dogs looking for their second (or third, or even fourth) chance at their own happily ever after.

  • Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
  • Trainer at Animal Behavior Training Concepts
  • Trainer at A.D.O.P.T. Pet Shelter in Naperville, IL
  • Member of Association of Professional Dog Trainers
  • Member of Doggone Safe


Friendly Support

We're here to help. Our experienced trainers guide you through every step of the process as you learn how to build a lifetime relationship with your dog based on trust and understanding. 

Quick Start Package

Would you like to know more about your dog? Would you like to prevent mistakes and create a positive training plan without being overwhelmed? Check out our Intro to Training package.

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In-Home Training

For those who prefer personalized training in the comfort of your home, we offer several options with one of our experienced behavioral trainers using only humane, science-based methods.

Modular Classes

Our classes are modular so that you can choose a location (throughout Chicagoloand) and time that best suits your schedule each week. View our calendar for upcoming sessions.