It’s all about Communication

We founded Canine Country in order to improve relationships between dogs and owners. We strive to show you and your dog how to better relate to one another using respect, communication and cooperation. Utilizing only positive reinforcement training methods, you and your dog will be treated with kindness, compassion and understanding.

While Canine Country is the premier behavior-based academy for dogs, teaching owners how to communicate and understand your dog’s language is the primary component to our methods.

Plain and simply…

Meet Your Local Officials (Our Trainers)

Cathy Bruce

Cathy Bruce, owner of Canine Country Academy, LLC with locations in Lawrenceville and West Athens, GA, has been training and helping dogs with behavior problems for the last 12 years. Her skills from her prior acting career on Broadway make her a dynamic speaker and educator. After completing a dog training apprenticeship, she became a Staff Instructor at People Training for Dogs in New York, where she also taught classes in Puppy Obedience, AKC Canine Good Citizen Prep, and Competitive Rally Obedience. She also taught in home private lessons for dogs and owners dealing with obedience and behavioral issues. Cathy continues to attend seminars and training workshops with trainers and behaviorists such as Suzanne Clothier, Ian Dunbar, Turid Rugaas, Nicole Wilde and ethnologist Ray Coppinger, to stay up to date on the most current positive based training methods.  She has attended a vet tech course at the well known Chi Institute in FL where she studied Tui Na massage techniques and Food Therapies which are one of the five branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  One of her favorite learning environments has been Wolf Park in Indiana where she studied wolf behavior and how it gives us a better understanding of the behavior of our domesticated dogs.  Cathy has also had extensive training in Tellington Touch techniques having studied with Kathy Cascade, an internationally known TTouch instructor who also specializes in work with fearful and reactive dogs.  She is certified through the Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.  Cathy was also a former Certified Nose Work Instructor and has attended professional K9 detection seminars through the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department.  She has trained some of the first titled Nose Work dogs in the state of Georgia and continues to teach ongoing scent work classes. Cathy is currently available for behavior consultations and continues to teach group classes for dog owners ranging the gamut from puppy training needs, such as housebreaking, socialization and dealing with destructive behaviors to more serious issues like dog to dog aggression, dog and children relationships and separation anxiety.  Her background and specialties include all levels of obedience including competitive Rally-O, behavioral modification for fearful and aggressive dogs and she is a scent work instructor. Cathy was featured on Animal Planet’s “IT’S ME OR THE DOG” as a guest Rally Instructor, has been a guest panelist on dog behavior at the annual Cat Writer’s Association and other seminars and is a regular featured guest on the radio show The Pet Connection as well as other national radio programs.  She regularly gives talks on body language and behavior around metro Atlanta, has been a pet columnist for Our Town Magazine Gwinnett and has written articles for the APDT Chronicle of the Dog publication. She has been featured on the Simon Paige Productions’s documentary for TV called “JAIL DOGS” for the work she has done with the dogs and inmates of the Operation Second Chance Jail Dog program in Lawrenceville, GA, and recently made guest appearances as a canine behavior expert on CBS Atlanta and Fox 5 Atlanta. In 2008, Cathy founded the Georgia Dog Trainer Forum, an educational and networking organization that includes professional dog trainers and behaviorists from all over the Atlanta area.  She also spent 18 months chairing the APDT’s C.L.A.S.S. task force which developed the nationally recognized Canine Life and Social Skills program being utilized by trainers throughout the country.  Cathy has served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) as well as chaired the Ethics Committee for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).  As a dog trainer, she strives to educate dog owners on how to better communicate with their dogs using only positive methods and employing a number of different techniques.  Every dog and owner has different needs and Cathy diligently works with her clients to discover those needs and meet them effectively.  Cathy shares her life on her farm in Athens, GA with her husband and son, three horses, four dogs, five cats, goats, and numerous chickens!

Paula Nowak

Paula Nowak began her dog training passion six years ago by taking her own dogs through various group classes at Canine Country Academy.  While she was enjoying teaching her own dogs she was also training sales professionals in the corporate world.  She soon realized that training people with dogs brought her much more joy!  She started learning all she could about dog behavior and training through books, seminars, conferences and apprenticing with Cathy Bruce.   Paula now works full-time on her goal of injecting fun into all aspects of dog training to help dogs and their owners live together happily. She has earned her AKC Novice Rally title with one of her dogs, Curly.  When her schedule allows she continues to compete with Curly in Rally trials to sharpen their skills in the ring.  She has also achieved a NW1 title with her dog Molly and looks forward to their second attempt at their NW2 title.  Two of her dogs have Trick Dog titles through Kyra Sundance’s  Trick Dog program ( – Curly, Advanced level and Franky, Novice level. During her training at Canine Country Academy she fell in love with teaching not only her own dogs, but the ability to help other dog/human relationships develop the close bond she experienced through training.  Her love of animals dates back to early childhood and continues to grow with each new experience.  Paula teaches Puppy 101, UKC Rally, Tricks, Scent Work (all levels), Reactive, Shy Dog, Foundation Agility (Level 1) and AKC Canine Good Citizen.  She is also available for in-home behavior and training consults as well as day training.  Over the last 9 years, she has also been involved in rehabilitating Rat Terriers through rescue organizations.  She currently volunteers with New Rattitude Rat Terrier Rescue & Adoptions (  Paula is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a Canine Life and Social Skills Evaluator, AKC Star Puppy and Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and  Certified Trick Dog Instructor through Kyra Sundance’s program.  She is also a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.  While educating others is her passion she also takes every opportunity to learn from some of the best educators by attending seminars, conferences and reading their books.  In 2015, she has attended S.A.N.E. Solutions for Challenging Dog Behavior with Kathy Cascade, International TTouch Instructor.

Ali Weihl

Ali Weihl has always had a passion for animals.  Starting in high school, she was intent on training marine mammals, so she spent one summer volunteering atthe Georgia Aquarium, got her scuba certification, and spent another summer as an intern at the Pittsburgh Aquarium.  While at the Pittsburgh Aquarium, she assisted the head penguin-keeper.  Then, two years ago, as she worked with a dog and horse trainer in Western Pennsylvania, her passion turned from marine mammals to dogs because of the ability to be more hands-on and utilize more positive reinforcement techniques.   After graduating from Saint Vincent College (Latrobe, PA) with a degree in Biology, she moved to Georgia in June of 2013.  She started out working in daycare at CCA as well as auditing classes such as Puppy, Scent Work, Reactive, and Rally.  Since then, she has advanced to teaching Puppy and Scent Work classes.  In order to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of clicker training, she completed a course through the Karen Pryor Academy.  She continues her ongoing education by attending seminars on dog behavior and scent work.  Ali spends her spare time reading books and articles on dog training as well as working with her rescue dog Bailey.

Rachel Emery

Rachel Emery has been passionate about dogs and dog behavior for many years and jumped at the opportunity to work full time with the dogs of Canine Country Academy as the daycare and boarding manager starting in the summer of 2012. After the closing of our daycare and boarding services she transitioned to auditing and assisting in a variety of classes at CCA. Currently, she primarily teaches Puppy 101 and Intro to Scent Work classes and assists with Reactive classes. Over the last several years she has attended seminars by Kathy Cascade and Nicole Wilde hosted at CCA and is constantly seeking out opportunities to learn more about behavior. She has 3 big dogs of her own, Sassy, Chance and Rocky and a one-eyed cat named KitKat (aka Trouble). She is also a volunteer in the rescue community with a soft spot for Pointer Rescue.

Morgan Moore

Morgan Moore began her career in animal training with marine mammals. She spent four years working at the Georgia Aquarium, where she was first introduced to the concepts of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement. Morgan took those techniques and applied them as a volunteer dog trainer for Atlanta Pet Rescue, in order to increase the likelihood that the dogs would be adopted. She attended the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA) Annual Conferences in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, she worked as an Animal Training Intern with bottlenose dolphins at Marineland Dolphin Adventure in St. Augustine, Florida. Upon completing the internship, Morgan was hired as a Marine Mammal Aide at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where she gained experience with bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, Harbor seals, African penguins, and Asian small-clawed otters. Soon after her seasonal position ended in Florida, Morgan saw the need for positive reinforcement training among her own family and friends with their household pets. She decided to transition from training marine mammals to teaching people how to relate better to their animals, specifically dogs, and develop a relationship with them based on trust. Morgan completed the apprenticeship program at Canine Country Academy and has since been teaching Puppy and Scent Work classes. She continues to attend seminars, conferences, and training workshops with trainers and behaviorists in order to stay up to date on the most current positive training methods. In 2015, she attended S.A.N.E. Solutions for Challenging Dog Behavior with Kathy Cascade, International TTouch Instructor. Morgan currently lives in Athens, GA with her husband Nate and Boston Terrier named Beans.

Explore! (Our Classes)


Without Force or Fear Vet Care

Dogs tend to find basic vet care and vet visits stressful (as do their owners).  If you would like to prevent such stress and/or change how your dog feels about vet visits, this is the group class for you!  This class will focus on reducing fear or force when getting vaccinations, getting on the scale, being muzzled, positive handling/physical exam, brushing teeth and more. Age range:  all ages (the earlier the better to prevent creating fearful experiences).  Pre requisite: dogs must be friendly with people and other dogs.

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Shy Dog

Is your dog shy or fearful or gets worried or anxious about people, dogs or other environmental stimuli? Boost your dog's confidence and help him overcome his fear in this wonderful course!  You will learn valuable tools to help your shy dog in new situations and this class will give your canine companion a wonderful opportunity to blossom into a more confident dog.  A variety of positive and force free techniques will be incorporated into this course to help your dog learn that the world does not have to be a scary place!  Age range:  all ages  (Please note we only take a maximum of 4 dogs in this class.)

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Reactive Dog

Are you embarrassed taking your dog out with you to public places?  Does your dog seem to lose his/her mind when seeing another dog, person or other trigger?  Is your dog suffering from leash frustration?  Then this is the class for you!  This course will help you gain confidence, better leash handling skills and your dog will learn better manners and coping skills when seeing dogs or people that seem to “set them off.”  You will take home valuable training tools to help you and your dog have a less stressful experience when out and about.  (Pre-requisite: dogs will be pre-screened before acceptance into this class)  Please note:  we only take a maximum of 4 dogs for this course

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Clicks for Tricks

Who is ready to Click for a Trick?  This is a fun clicker based Tricks class jammed with lots of fun learning for your dog!  The course is tailored to work both on standard dog tricks as well as new tricks you would like to teach your dog.  There is no better way to mentally stimulate your dog than to teach them some new tricks!  Age range: all ages

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K9 Playground

Looking to spice up your relationship with your dog with new challenges each week?  This class is exactly what you need!  Each week we will have a theme such as: Relay Races, Staycation, Speed Racer, A-Mazing, Hide N Seek and Can Your Dog Do This challenge?  What is the purpose of the challenges?  We will focus on games to build on existing skills such as coming when called, stay, connection work, speed in "sit" and "down" and more.  The dogs will primarily work one at a time to allow for off leash experiences.  If you and your dog are looking for the ultimate fun in your training experience this is the class for you!  Pre-requisite: dogs must have completed either Puppy 101 or 201 or Manners 101 or 201

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Rally Obedience (Advanced Coursework)

Are you serious about competing in AKC or UKC Rally Obedience?  This course is a competition prep course incorporating different levels of coursework to challenge and prepare you and your dog for Rally trials.  (Pre-requisite: Rally Intro & Foundation course)

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Rally Obedience (Intro & Foundation)

Rally obedience is a fun and controlled low impact dog sport, combining teamwork with dog and handler with challenging obedience coursework.  This class will prepare dogs and owners to compete in Rally competition, or owners and their dogs can just have fun learning more obedience commands and building teamwork with their dog.  Pre-requisite:  Puppy 101 or Manners 101

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Agility Fun

Let the games begin!  This is a fun class for both owner and dog incorporating strengthening your bond as a team and building confidence in your dog.  Your dog will learn how to go over jumps, through tunnels, weave poles and other agility contact obstacles like the A Frame and teeter board.  This class will also work on off leash reliable recall skills.  Age range: 12 months and older  (Pre-requisite:  Manners 101 or 201)

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Advanced Scent Work Competition Prep

Is your dog proficient on a competition Scent Work odor?  This Scent Work competition prep class is an off and onsite course where you and your dog will have the opportunity to practice searching for hides in simulated trial like environments.  Multiple search environments in different locations will include interior and containers, exterior and vehicle work.  This course also equips students with excellent competition handling skills and incorporates adding multiple odors for further competition.  (Pre-requisite:  dogs must be proficient on at least one competition odor)

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Intro to Target Odor

You have completed Intro to Scent Work Level 1 and 2 and your dog whispers in your ear "Let's compete.....I love this sniffing thing!"  Intro to Target Odor is the next step towards preparing your dog for competitive scent work.  Dogs in this course will be imprinted on competition Birch odor.  Handlers will also continue to hone their skills in leash work and supporting the dog as a team.  (Pre-requisite: dogs must complete at least one session of Intro to Scent Work Level 1 and Level 2)

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Intro to Scent Work Level 2

Is your dog just waiting for you to hop in the car to take him/her back to Scent Work? Joining our Intro to Scent Work Level 2 course will take your dog's scenting skills to the next level and is also a pre requisite to imprinting your dog on a competition odor.  Dogs will continue to search for primary reward in these elements: interior, exterior, vehicles and containers.  (Pre-requisite: dogs must complete Intro to Scent Work Level 1)

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Intro to Scent Work Level 1

Scent Work is for any dog who has a nose!  This activity will satisfy your dog's mental stimulation and olfactory needs (the need to SNIFF)!  It is also very beneficial for dogs lacking in confidence or dogs who need a job.  Intro to Scent Work is for all dogs of any age and any breed.  This introductory course teaches your dog the foundation of the game, gets them focused and builds your dog’s intensity to hunt.  The human students will also learn to hone their own observation skills and enjoy watching their dogs have fun!  Age range: all ages

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Hound on the Town

Ready to leave Canine Country and take your skills on the road?? Out on the Town is a real life, off site course where you can work on good social skills with your dog in a public setting to proof those good behaviors! Participants will practice loose leash walking, attention, polite greeting and relaxation exercises with their dog in downtown public areas. This course meets for four weeks at various locations around town for one hour each week. (Pre-requisite: dogs must be people and dog friendly and must have completed a Puppy or Manners class.)

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Manners 201

Are you ready to take your dog’s manners and impulse control skills to the next level? The Manners 201 class is a great follow-up to our Manners 101 class by focusing on additional challenges and skills such as: Walking Past Another Dog, Walking through a Crowd, Supervised Separation, Handling/Grooming, Polite Greeting and more! Prerequisite: Manners 101

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Manners 101

Join this essential beginner obedience/manners class for dogs 12 months and older (or graduates of Puppy 101 or 201)! Your dog will learn: SIT, DOWN, LOOSE LEASH WALKING, WAIT TO BE FED, WAIT AT THE DOOR, POLITE GREETING, STAY and more! Students with newly adopted dogs who are new to training and dogs that need to brush up on skills, as well as those pursuing therapy dog goals, will benefit from this progressive obedience class. Age range: 12 months and older

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Puppy Agility Fun

Are you looking forward to getting your puppy into the sport of Agility, but they are too young to really get started?  Or maybe you are looking for a way to burn off extra energy while having fun with your puppy?  This fun class is designed to get your puppy moving, learning some foundational agility skills appropriate for your puppies age and continue their socialization.  The puppies will be working on various pieces of equipment kept at low impact levels to prevent injury.  Age range: under 12 months (Pre-requisite: puppies who have completed Puppy 101 at CCA or Puppy class elsewhere)

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Puppy 201

Your puppy is growing quick and you want to keep working on those great foundational manners!  In Puppy 201, puppies and their owners will continue to proof behaviors such as SIT, DOWN and LOOSE LEASH WALKING and add new impulse skills such as STAY/WAIT, PLACE/SETTLE and RECALL with distractions.  This is also a great class for puppies not quite ready to transition into Manners 101.  Age range: 7 to 11 months

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Puppy 101

The best place to set your new puppy up for success! This foundational puppy course covers basic obedience commands such as SIT, DOWN, COME, LEASH WALKING, RECALL, GOOD HANDLING SKILLS, DROP IT and more, and provides good socialization with other puppies.  You and your puppy will also learn how to navigate through other behavioral issues like housebreaking, jumping and chewing.  Age range: 3 to 6 months of age

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Behavior Consulting – The Canine Country Approach

At Canine Country, we approach behavior problems holistically: looking at the whole dog – mind, body and emotion – to ascertain the root cause of behavior issues. We work with the dog and owner, together, from the inside out. Because we do not apply typical dog-training “band aids” to treat symptoms, we help you achieve longer and more lasting behavior changes. 

When necessary, we also work closely with your veterinary team to ensure that any behavior issues potentially caused by physical problems are brought to light, and that any physical problems can be remedied by a veterinarian expert. If fact, we are proud to have many great cross consulting relationships with veterinary clinics in the area.


100% Positive Reinforcement

The use of punishment or aversive techniques can be a recipe for disaster for a dog suffering from reactivity, aggression or fear. Beware of “dog experts” who would try to convince you that your dog suffering from behavior problems is trying to dominate you. In many cases, dogs with these types of problems are dealing with fear issues that have been completely misunderstood or overlooked. 

Our role as your behavior consultant is to help you better understand what your dog is communicating, and to fix the root cause of that fear.

Let’s Dig Deeper…

Does your dog suffer from any of the following?

  • Aggression
  • Reactivity
  • Fear
  • Separation anxiety
  • Housebreaking Issues
  • Destructive chewing
  • Other stress-related behavior problems

If so, please call us directly at 678-979–2016 to discuss.

We are happy to customize and quote a tailored, consultative solution for your dog’s particular behavior issues. Generally lasting about 90-minues, our in-home or on-site behavior consultations will HELP YOU get your beloved canine back on the right track to a happy and more balanced life!

There is nothing truer in this world than the love of a good dog.

Plan Your Trip


Lawrenceville / Gwinnett
975 Cripple Creek Drive
Lawrenceville GA 30043


Athens/ Bogart
115 Trade Street
Bogart GA 30622


Things to Do

Upcoming Events

CCA Lawrenceville’s 5 year Anniversary Party

Saturday, November 12th. 4:30pm to 6:30pm. 975 Cripple Creek Drive, Lawrenceville GA 30043

Come join us as we celebrate 5 years at our Lawrenceville facility! Drop in for some food, drinks, raffle prizes and more!

Fear, Arousal, Aggression oh my!

Friday, October 28th. 7pm to 8:30pm. CCA – Athens 115 Trade Street, Bogart GA 30622

Cathy Bruce and Paula Nowak, canine behavior consultants, will be unpacking the how’s and why’s of this topic. Participants will learn how to accurately read and better understand these often misunderstood behaviors and physiological responses in dogs. Topics include: stress responses, physiological realities, the human role in fear and aggression and practical tools for helping dogs work through these issues.  If you have always wanted to better understand fear, arousal and aggression, this is the class for you!

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Travel Reviews

We love Canine Country Academy.  When Cait was only nine weeks old we started puppy classes just to learn basic manners and socialization skills.  She is now four years old with titles in Nosework and Rally Obedience, Advanced Trick Dog, and serves as a therapy dog (TDI) to schools, retirement centers, and hospitals.   The best part is that all her training has been positive and fun.  We have had a great time at CCA!!!

Salena Lynch and Cait

For almost two years I have had the privilege of training at CCA. My dog Harper is unique in many ways. From the age of 12 weeks she has worked her way through the requirements to become a trained service animal. Harper isn’t your traditional service dog. She weighs in at 13 pounds, has never met a task she couldn’t master and is full of attitude. CCA has guided us through many challenges that are specific to our daily work, as well as the many “normal” issues that coming with having a dog in your life. The trainers have managed to challenge us in creative ways through agility, rally, tricks classes and more. Their care and concern toward us is evident in the planning they put into every class. I am grateful to have found these wonderful trainers and I frequently recommend Canine Country Academy to everyone who compliments Harper.

Annie Fields and Harper

I can’t say “Thank you” enough to CCA. From my very first interaction with them I could tell that they put the needs of the dogs, first. They were looking out for me and my dog instead of just trying to make money. I have a fearful, 2 year old Chihuahua named Aurora, and our trainer has helped us both tremendously. We have had private lessons and Shy Dog class. We have a long way to go, but we have come so far! Our trainer has given me an abundant amount of resources and techniques and tools so that I can continue our work at home between classes. Aurora and I have become closer throughout these classes because I’ve learned how to anticipate her needs and I’ve learned how to help her deal with her high anxiety triggers. I can’t wait for the next class for Aurora and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her and how far she will go!!!

Tamara Stephens and Aurora

We found Canine Country Academy we read every book and watched every video we could find about training. Overwhelmed and frustrated by so much conflicting information, we bought into training methods that only made things worse. We care about our dogs like family members and we were so lost. After a very bad experience with another trainer, a trusted friend referred us to Canine Country Academy. Our trainers have been absolutely amazing and incredibly caring. Their knowledge and experience has taught us so much and helped all of us and our dogs have better lives. We would have been lost without them. Thank you all!!!

Andy Runton and Gable & Gizmo


Canine Country Academy featured on Fox 5 News

This week Cathy and her Border Collie Skye were featured on the Wednesday’s Child Fox 5 news segment to help a special young man find an adoptive family.  Please share Christian’s information so he can find a wonderful new forever…
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Canine Country Academy on CBS’s “Atlanta Plugged In”

Cathy had the opportunity to share a little information from her “What’s My Dog REALLY Saying” talk with host Kimberley Kennedy!  Check it out!   CBS46…
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Canine Country Academy on CBS’s “Atlanta Plugged In”

Cathy had the opportunity to share a little information from her “What’s My Dog REALLY Saying” talk with host Kimberley Kennedy!  Check it out!   CBS46…
Read More
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