About Our Trainers

Meet the Nebraska Dog Trainers

Lesley Thompson – Co-owner and founder

Nebraska Dog Trainers is co-owned by founder Lesley Thompson. Lesley is excited to bring her wealth of knowledge and experience to the area. She is very experienced in training dogs for basic and advanced obedience, therapy dog certification, as well as dealing with behavioral modification.

Lesley adores dogs and has always had them in her life. She has been fostering, grooming and training dogs on a volunteer basis since 2002. In 2015, Lesley decided to make the big leap to professional dog training, opening the door to Nebraska Dog Trainers. She has finally figured out how to not work a day in her life. She currently has a Standard Poodle named Margaux. Lesley’s philosophy is a dog should enhance your life not inhibit it!

Trainer Akin

Akin – Co-owner & Training Director

James “Akin” Akin-Otiko is a Co-Owner at Nebraska Dog trainers with over 32 years of experience in a variety of dog training methods. He is the resident “Aggressive and Reactive dog” behavior specialist and trainer for our training instructors and coahes. It all started for him in 1989 when he got a pure-bred German Shepherd puppy in the Netherlands while playing professional basketball in Eindhoven-Holland. Over the past 32 plus years, he has trained hundreds of dogs from different breeds for people all over the country, for sport, basic and high-level obedience. His knowledge spans the whole gamet of dog training. He is an advocate for dog training wherever he goes. He believes that a well-trained dog is a better family member than a dog that is not well trained or that has no training at all. If you are around him long enough, you will hear one of his favorite phrases about dogs, and it is that, ”Dogs don’t lie”. We are super-excited at Nebraska Dog Trainers to have him on board to share his wealth of knowledge with our trainers and clients alike. His personal dog is a male Belgian Malinois dog, named “Draco” that he is training in the sport of IGP.
trainer michelle

Michele G. – owner & lead trainer of NDT Lincoln

Michele is the owner & lead trainer of our Lincoln location and has been training for Nebraska Dog Trainers since December 2015 but has worked with different species of animals for many years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science with a Companion Animal Focus from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has interned at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, Capital Humane Society. Michele has worked in vet clinics and doggy daycare. Michele and her husband have a Vizsla (Royal), a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois (KC), and two cats (Mr. Kitty and Binx). Michele’s favorite part about being a dog trainer is she loves being able to help owners have well-behaved dogs that become a special part of their families.
trainer marie

Marie - Holistic Health Consultant

Marie Akin-Otiko is a doctor of Holistic Medicine from Quebec City, Canada who owned her own practice for over 28 years and has over 31 years of Holistic medicine experience and knowledge. Until she moved to the United States from Canada in 2017, she was the only one certified in the whole state of Quebec, Canada to practice Homeopathic Medicine for both humans and animals. She is Board Certified with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and is available to provide health and nutrition advice for dogs through the use of herbal supplements, homeopathic and Bach flowers remedies that will also help the dogs’ emotional and physical health. Marie bred Rottweilers for over 25 years and now has a female Belgian Malinois, “Yana” that she trains and competes with in the sport of IGP.
Best of Omaha 2021

Our Amazing Trainers

Shyra B. - Trainer

Shyra has lived in Nebraska since September 2014 and grew up in New Hampshire. She attended Unity College in Maine and graduated with a captive wildlife care and education degree. Shyra has worked at different dog daycare/boarding/grooming places and has interned at two different zoos. Shyra and her husband have two dogs, a black German Shepherd (Raeyna) and a Chocolate Lab (Beretta). Her favorite thing about being a dog trainer is knowing the difference she made in not only the dog’s life but the owners as well. When you have a well mannered dog that you can take with you everywhere you go, both of your lives are greatly improved.

Danielle O. - Trainer

Danielle grew up with a love for all animals and had the opportunity to spend time with working dogs while in the military. She was a proud foster parent for the military working dog program and specializes in service dog training. Danielle and her husband have 2 dogs Beretta (Patterdale terrier mix) and Kelty (Belgian Malinois). Danielle has a passion for improving the lives and well-being of dogs everywhere.

Roberta R. - Trainer

Originally from South Dakota, Roberta has been madly in love with dogs her entire life. Always having dogs as family pets, Roberta has decades of experience with dogs. She has an art education degree and has spent over fifteen years in the education field helping students embrace and express their creativity. Taking from her education training, Roberta now applies these skills to helping pet owners and their dog’s bond over obedience. Roberta and her family have three rescue dogs of their own; Bebe, a Doberman Pinscher, Luca, a Retriever and Poodle mix, and Ruby, a Pit Bull and Labrador mix.

Trainer Liz

Liz - Trainer

Liz is definitely a dog person! She is a Lincoln native, and after a year in Seattle, she has returned home to the good life. At age three, her dad brought home a yellow Labrador, and Liz has been obsessed with working dogs ever since. By the start of high school, she was responsible for three dogs, two birds, and a horse (and all of them ended up well behaved, except maybe the birds!) She graduated from UNL with a bachelors in Psychology and Sociology, giving her insight into animal and human behavior that help her educate dogs and owners alike. After graduation, Liz was eager to expand her knowledge of the dog world, and trained in a variety of dog sports including agility, flyball, treibball, barn hunt, nose work, tricks, rally obedience, and weight pull. Her current best friend is The Bear Dog, who has dabbled in a variety of sports, and earned his CGC and Community Canine Award. She also works with her chiweenie, Soma, on tricks and agility, and is currently working a rescue lab, Tucker, towards therapy dog work.

Elliott M. - Trainer

Born and raised on a hobby farm in Elk City, Nebraska, Elliott developed an affinity for working with animals from a young age by training horses and livestock guardian dogs, herding dogs, and bird dogs. However, it wasn’t until she adopted her first shepherd Sawyer, a Belgian Groenendael/Beglian Malinois mix, that this affinity matured into an infatuation with canine behavior and health and, perhaps most obsessively, working with difficult dogs. Elliott has a background working in rescue, training barns, as well as doggie daycare/boarding facilities and is currently working on a certification in holistic canine nutrition. In addition to Sawyer, her wily pack currently consists of Cricket, a Belgian Malionis, Holden, an Australian Shepherd mix, Link, a Czech German Shepherd, Buck and Duck, two very adventurous cats, Johnny, an off the track thoroughbred, and Ralph, an incredibly spirited haflinger, but you could take stock in the fact that this list will expand. Elliott’s favorite part about being a dog trainer is being able to bridge the gaps in communication between the dog and their owner(s) and seeing the transformation from pet to partner.

trainer kennedy

Kennedy - Trainer

After Kennedy lost her first dog and childhood best friend Sam, Australian Shepherd mix, she immortalized him with a tattoo and dedicated her life to helping other people and their dogs develop the same kind of unbreakable bond they shared. She is an avid Shepherd enthusiast with a passion for working dogs. Though she has many Shepherd breeds in her pack, Kennedy has developed a penchant for Beaucerons and is excited for her 8 week old Beauceron, Syntax, to develop into a first class advocate for her breed; she hopes to be able to title her in IGP as well as obtain a Canine Good Citizen certification to become a Canine Ambassador. Kennedy has an uncanny ability to break nervous or shy dogs out of their shell and has yet to meet a dog that has not been enthralled by her jovial demeanor. Eventually, she is hoping to use her talents to help rehabilitate aggressive and reactive dogs and educate pet owners about canine behavior and responsible dog ownership.

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