Spotlighting Two Asheville Animal Trainers

Two Asheville Animal Trainers

Halloween at Lucky Dog Training,
two lions and a lion tamer. Photo
by Asheville Pet Photography

Asheville is an animal-friendly town, and as such attracts animal trainers with various educational backgrounds and training philosophies.

Kathryn Gubista is an evolutionary biologist and educator who first started dog training while working as a keeper at Brookfield Children’s Zoo in Chicago. She founded Lucky Dog Training Asheville to share her training expertise, teaching experience and health-consciousness.

“All our training is from the dog’s perspective,” says Gubista, “a fun, easy and very effective training approach that differs from the more traditional aversive or permissive training approaches.”

Lucky Dog Training Asheville provides a variety of dog training services, including private sessions, group sessions and residency board and train. Individual sessions are held at the dog’s home and local environments, while group sessions are held in outdoor locations throughout Asheville. “They are a great way for dog owners to learn how to handle their dogs in public.”

Puppy and dog training services include obedience and house training. “In addition, we offer unique services that allow people to have more fun with their dogs, including dock diving, tracking, therapy services and fitness,” says Gubista, whose mission is to help clients free themselves of unnecessary stress while achieving their training goals.

Working on training from the equine perspective, Emily Shields earns her living as a horse handler/horsemanship instructor and artist. Her intricate style of working with horses is founded in a philosophy of teaching both horses and people in a way that allows each to learn through a process of trial and error. Horses are encouraged to learn through a release or reward for the desired response.

Two Asheville Animal Trainers

Emily Shields, artist

“I help horses with people problems and people with horse problems,” says Shields, who practices the California style of working with horses, which is from the Vaquero tradition. “This type of horsemanship was brought to the new world by people traveling from Spain to South America on ships back in the settlement days,” she says. “It is still practiced today in the world of ranch horses. The history of it is fascinating.”

It will come as no surprise that Shields grew up in a family that owned horses and that she has loved to make art since childhood. She earned her BA from Appalachian State University.

“I appreciate many different types of art and so am influenced by realism as well as abstract art in drawing painting and mixed media,” she says. “I mostly have been doing commissioned portraits of horses and pets for clients and students and also enjoy working with images inspired by nature, the human figure and animals, and playing with abstraction of these subjects.”

Learn more about these trainers at and Kathryn Gubista recently published The Dog’s Perspective: How to Train a Dog by Thinking Like a Dog, available locally and on Amazon.

Leave a Comment