Welcome! 🙂

First Paw Forward was established in 2010 and is operated by trainer Sophia Grace Dana Hutchence.

Why Choose Us?

  • We Know How to Have Fun! My training and personal life is focused on fun, stress-relieving activities that enrich the mind and body of both dog and owner. I want to pass that onto you!
  • Method. I teach by the principle of LIMA – the Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive methods are used to train your dog in an effective, humane, dog-friendly way. Not everyone does this. They suck. People should do what works for dogs.
  • Knowledge. I know the difference between popular reality show fads, traditional trainers with outdated training methods, and modern, science-based, positive dog training that works. I can help you understand how to train correctly in a down to earth way. And I keep up with professional continuing education courses every year so that my clients benefit.
  • Experience. I have worked with puppies through seniors and all breeds, and we know how to effectively communicate with our clients and can lead you to succeed in your goals.
  • Excellence. We can’t promise to be the better than the rest, but we hold a commitment to being the best we possible CAN be for the sake of our clients.
  • Integrity. We know we are changing lives, and we take that seriously! Our client relationships, our professionalism, and our commitment to the latest in science-based training methods is our priority.
  • Partnership. We have relationships with other positive dog professionals, and if it’s not our area of expertise, we can refer you to a trusted professional.
  • We are people friendly! Not all dog trainers are, and that doesn’t make them bad trainers, but it can make it hard to work well with them.


  • Professional Member APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers)
  • PPG Pet Professional Guild Professional Member
  • Member MAAPPPT (Mid-Atlantic Association of Professional Positive Pet Trainers)
  • C.A.T.C.H. Mentor Trainer
  • AKC CGC & STAR Puppy Evaluator
  • Veterinary Assistant – P.A.W.S. Pet Acupuncture & Wellness
  • SPCA volunteer and member of the training and behavior “Green Team”
  • Volunteer professional trainer/behavior consultant for SEVA GRREAT (Golden Retriever rescue of SE Virginia)
  • Organizer of the “Meetup.com” group “Positive Dog Trainers”
  • Red Cross Pet First Aid Training Certification
  • Professional hobby breeder at Frantone Golden Retrievers
  • Usui Reiki Master
  • Karuna Reiki Practitioner II
  • Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist & CHEK HLC


Dana Hutchins