Meet the dog trainer! Brenley Merritt is one of our newer dog trainers at Valor K9 Academy – Chattanooga. She’s awesome and has been well-loved by her clients so far! Get to know Brenley better in this fun interview!

1. What’s your favorite food?

My favorite food is a Flank Steak. Specifically, when my Dad cooks the Flank Steak. He makes it just right. It’s absolutely delicious. My absolute favorite snack is Santitas chips. I don’t even need any dip with it and it’s typically my go-to snack when I’m at home.

2. What’s one of your favorite childhood memories?

The majority of my favorite childhood memories include my 2 older sisters, Cailen and Courtney. When we were younger, we would play all kinds of games in our home. We would bowl down the hallways and rollerblade in the basement. My favorite memories come from a game my oldest sister made up. She called it The Crazy Daisy Hotel. It was my Mom’s favorite game we would play because Cailen would make us clean the whole house for the “guests” that would come. Our parents were always the first guests.


3. What are your hobbies?

I don’t have many hobbies that I regularly take part in in my everyday life. It fluctuates constantly. I think I would consider reading my main hobby. I can get lost in a book so easily that I won’t hear anything around me. The next hobby I enjoy would be swimming, but it typically only happens in the warmer months.

4. Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

Most people don’t know that I’ve been Water Skiing and Snow Skiing since I was 5. My family owns a Water Ski Camp, so I’ve grown up on the water and around all types of water sports, like Barefooting and Wakeboarding. My family also has a tradition of going to Colorado to Snow Ski when I was little, even now.


5. How did you get started in dog training?

I started with my own dog when I was really young. I would go to PetSmart and take my 4lb Maltese, Max, and train him. I think I was about 7 years old when I did that. I also did Agility with him and signed up for trick competitions. It was a lot of fun and began my journey in training dogs.

Though I still consider my real beginning was when I began to raise puppies for a Guide Dog school. I would get them around 10-12 weeks old and teach them Basic Obedience, along with a select few tricks that would be beneficial in the real world as a Service Dog. One of my favorites is “Close”, where they will turn and sit in between your legs so they’re out of the way. I would bring them almost everywhere with me to socialize and expose them to everything I could. I would go to bi-weekly meetings to make sure I was on the right track in where the puppy should be in training. I’ve raised 5 dogs with this school. I’ve seen the full completion of them becoming a Guide Dog, along with one of them becoming a Veteran Service Dog. It’s probably one of my favorite moments I’ll ever experience in my life.

guide dog for the blind training

6. What are your favorite dog breeds to train and why?

I’ve had a lot of experience with Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and the mix of the two called a Goldador. Between those 3, my favorite is a Labrador (though some say I may be biased). I typically appreciate training medium to high-drive dogs. My personal experience and favorites are Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Cattle Dogs.

7. Why do you love training dogs?

I enjoy watching them think. It’s truly satisfying when you’re teaching the dogs something new and all of a sudden it clicks. The dog understands what you’re asking of them, and will do it again in a heartbeat for you.

8. Which dog training client has been your favorite so far and why?

Though I’ve liked the client dogs I have had thus far, my favorite has to be Freya. She is a five-month-old Collie puppy. She is so food-driven and caught onto everything I taught her so quickly. She’s absolutely adorable and was so confident everywhere I took her. I really enjoy the herding breeds, though, so that is definitely another reason I enjoyed training her.

collie puppy training

9. Tell us about Eddie, your Labrador Retriever!

service dog puppy training

Eddie is a 4-year-old Black Labrador Retriever. He was the last dog I raised with my Guide Dog School. I got him when he was only 10-weeks-old and he is out of a litter of 10! 6 Yellow Labs, and 4 Black Labs! I had him till he was about 15 months old, then he went back to the school to officially get trained. We call it that they’re going to ‘College’ to pick their ‘Degree’! He was there for 7 months before it was decided he wasn’t a good fit to be a Guide Dog. It was partially disappointing for me because of course, you want the dog you raised to become something more than just a pet. Though, I think it truly was meant to be that he came back to live with me. He is the only dog (of those that I raised) that my entire family loved. He gets along with everyone and it’s fun to train him and teach him new things. He absolutely loves water and enjoys Dock Diving so much. Not necessarily the formal way of Dock Diving. My Grandparents have a dock on Lake Lanier in Georgia, and he will run and jump after his ball over and over. I have to be the one to stop him and make sure he takes a break. Eddie is my loyal, goofy dog and I’m thankful he’s mine.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Brenley better! She’s an awesome person and has been a great addition to our team!