Me & Alex
Alexander Lionheart

Starlite’s Alexander Lionhart, CDX, CGC
My cross-over dog

Alex in show ring1

My background is in marketing, advertising, and video production. Back in 1993, my life changed when I got the dog I’d been dreaming of for 7 years, a beautiful Weimaraner puppy named Alex. I took him to training classes and got hooked on competition obedience. In those days, harsh training methods were the norm, and I was taught to do some pretty awful things to the dog I loved. I watched other people, do even worse things to their dogs in the name of “training.” I started to realize that while some of us were achieving our training goals, some were also ruining their dogs’ temperaments, eroding the bond and causing the dogs unnecessary pain. I wondered: do people really have the right to treat dogs this way? How can a method that creates more problems than it solves be efficient? In 2000, I began volunteering at the Humane Society of Broward County and I was introduced to positive reinforcement (R+) training. We could not use the choke collars, prong collars or leash corrections that I was used to. And guess what? The dogs learned quicker and were happy and willing to perform the behaviors. And I knew I was doing the right thing. I never hurt Alex again, and I have used only reward-based training since and have made it my mission to spread the word: harsh punishment is NOT necessary to train your dog! I am a “cross-over trainer.”

Professional Credentials

  • CPDT-KA- Certified Professional Dog trainer
  • Full Member – Pet Professional Guild
  • Professional Member- Association of Professional Dog Trainers
  • Certified through Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers
  • Meeting continuing Education requirements since 2002
  • Meet the American Veterinary Behaviorists College guidelines for trainers
  • South Florida Veterinary Foundation seal of approval, meeting veterinary standard of care for training
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Behavior Consultant for Adoption Ambassador Program at the Humane Society of Broward County
  • Humane Society volunteer since 2000

CPDT-KA: Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed. CPDT-KA is an internationally recognized certification program for professional dog trainers. A certification exam and continuing education requirement ensures that CPDT-KA’s are knowledgeable about the most current thinking, research and techniques in the field. I was one of the first trainers in Florida to earn the certification back in 2002. I am committed to best practices in my field and using science-based, force-free training methods.

Pet Dog Training

My specialty is training pet dogs: working with individuals and families that want a well-behaved pet dog with a friendly, sound temperament. I love helping people start raising their puppy right from the start, but also work with families who want to modify behavior problems in an adult dog. Training is offered as private in-home sessions as well as group classes.

Therapy Dog Work: I’ve trained a variety of breeds to be therapy dogs over the years, and am familiar with all of the requirements needed to prepare dogs for specific targeted assignments within the facilities they serve. Decoding Canine Body Language is a seminar I developed for therapy dog handlers, and dog owners to help them understand canine emotion.

Canine Good Citizen: I am an AKC Canine Good Citizen and Star Puppy Evaluator and offer private training, as well as group classes to prepare for the test. I served as the preferred trainer to several rental communities in Broward County who accept Pit Bull breeds, under the condition they have passed the CGC test. Many of my clients’ pit bulls have gone on to do pet therapy and become good-will ambassadors for the breed.

Speaking/Writing: I am available for public speaking on a variety of canine-related subjects. My columns and articles have appeared in City News, The Weston Voice, Weston Express, DRW Magazine and Dogwork.com. My expertise in dog behavior has led to television, radio and newspaper interviews. I’ve been featured on channel 10 news five times since 2011, channel 6 news and the Beacon TV, Take Paws show. Click to view a Channel 10 News piece about puppy training.

How I Give Back

 HSBC-logo-Pantone-Color-smallHumane Society of Broward County

I’ve volunteered at the Humane Society of Broward County since 2000, in numerous capacities including in-house trainer, mentor, public speaker, education, and the boutique. I developed and taught the group training classes and Puppy Pre-school classes for 10 years. Currently I volunteer as Behavior Consultant and trainer for the Adoption Ambassador Program, which places at risk dogs into foster families who are empowered to care for and train the dogs and choose the new adoptive family. I work to develop individual Behavior Modification Plans for each dog and counsel the Adoption Ambassadors.

One of my proudest accomplishments is developing Bow Wow Basics, a free seminar for new dog owners, and owners seeking help for acute behavior issues. Many of the programs I instituted are still being offered at the shelter. In 2003, I received the Premier/ASPCA Shelter Work Award.

SC Speaking at AA luncheon HSBC“Susan generously donates her time to work with the Ambassador dogs while in their temporary homes. She presents workshops designed to empower foster volunteers with tools and information so each dog gets personalized behavior modification. The training and behavior support the Adoption Ambassador Program is able to provide its foster volunteers makes this program a stand out among other foster programs in shelters.”

Rachel Bryan, Adoption Ambassador Program Coordinator, 2013-2015
Humane Society of Broward County

C Crane pic for testimonial

“Susan demonstrates a great deal of kindness and compassion.  Her methods are positive, creative and motivating. The Humane Society is fortunate to have such a committed individual.  She has been instrumental in developing a variety of programs, brochures and curriculums, using her talent and skills. I highly recommend Susan Claire as a dog trainer.  I feel 100% confident with her techniques and results. Susan loves what she does, which makes her the success she is today.”

Caroline Crane, Vice President of Education,
Humane Society of Broward County

MVC PUP E logo South Florida Veterinary Foundation

Dr Ashbey Teaching MVC class for how i give back clicker-students  

MVC PUP E Program – Miami Veterinary Coalition to Prevent (& end) Unwanted Pet Euthanasia

“Susan volunteers in our Behavior Initiative program which includes teaching and mentoring students in high school veterinary assistant magnet programs to train rescue dogs to get their Canine Good Citizen Certifications, enhancing their chances of adoptions. Susan is committed and passionate about improving the lives of dogs and their people- an excellent dog trainer who has a philanthropic heart. She lectures to the community, sharing her knowledge on such topics as Dog Body Language, Puppy Socialization, and the science of reward (force free, positive reinforcement, R+) based training. She is committed to force free training, which is in line with our veterinary behavior medicine standard of care, so I know my clients are in good hands. I appreciate her passion, dedication, professionalism and honesty.”

Dr. Karen Ashby, Founder and Director MVC PUPE Program
South Florida Veterinary Foundation 

As seen on ShelterMe.TV

Supervising Coordinator and Assistant to Dr. Karen Ashby

MVC PUP E Spots Training Program

The Goal of the Miami Veterinary Coalition To Prevent Unwanted Pets & Pet Euthansia (MVCPUPE) Dog Training Program is to decrease pets being abandoned and or euthanized for problem behaviors in Our Community by training Veterinary Assistant Students in The Foundations of Dog Behavior, Dog Training & Enrichment that is in line with the Veterinary Behavior Standard of Care, so they can bring their knowledge into the veterinary field through their internships in veterinary hospitals and future jobs/careers in the veterinary field.

The MVC PUP E team’s role is to facilitate the students’ learning of behavior and basic dog training/manners using force-free training techniques and equipment, husbandry, enrichment and the adoption process. Our training classes will prepare the students and dogs to pass the Canine Good Citizen test. The student media teams will be documenting the entire process from selecting the dogs to adoption, and using this documentation to promote the dogs on social media for adoption. The dogs will go directly into their new homes upon completion of this program.

As Featured In


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