Volunteer Spotlight: Trina Grubaugh

Stover Animal Rescue welcomes to its Board of Directors Trina Grubaugh, certified dog trainer and founder of "Be A Good Dog University". The rescue has already been working closely with Trina, who not only successfully trains rescued dogs, but also gives training to adopters and adopted dogs that already have a home. “I’m a strong advocate of incorporating veterinary psychology into dog training.”

Love for dogs

Trina has always loved dogs ever since she was a child. At the age of five, she was determined to become a veterinarian. “I graduated from Vet Tech School in 1996 and worked for a veterinarian and pet behavior consultant, Wayne Hunthausen, in Kansas City. Unfortunately, I discovered I couldn’t stand blood. Looking back, I was glad I didn’t study to become a veterinarian.”

It wasn’t until she took obedience classes with her puppy when she discovered her true calling. “I got such a kick out of training my dog and thought to myself: ‘This is what I want to do’. I decided to dedicate my life to this ever-evolving field of expertise and train dogs to adapt their behavior.” As a trainer, Trina believes it’s important to investigate the background of each breed because there are many genetic differences. She often shares best practices with other trainers on social media, as a way of expanding her knowledge and further improving her training skills. “I love being part of such a close-knit community!”


This dog lover moved to Missouri in 2001 and began holding her own dog training obedience classes in places around Lake of the Ozarks, such as Stover, Eldon, Versailles, and Osage Beach. “In Stover, I started working with animal advocate Carol Sue Weigel, who later founded Stover Animal Rescue (SAR) in 2005. In 2019, friends and family helped me establish Be A Good Dog University (BAGDU) as a 501c3 charity nonprofit organization.” Trina wears many hats within BAGDU, not only is she president, dog trainer, and consultant - she also networks with rescues and trainers to improve the lives of dogs and their owners.

So, what is happening in the field of animal training? Through research, we know so much more about how a dog perceives the world compared to twenty years ago. “There’s actually a revolution taking place in animal training. Based on scientific insights, we now know we need to focus more on the mental enrichment of dogs which positively influences their physical well-being. I’m a strong advocate of incorporating veterinary psychology into dog training. The past is not directive of a dog’s journey.”

Dog behavior

According to Trina, most behavioral issues amongst dogs are related to anxiety and stress. Rescued dogs often have a history of stressful experiences, so being placed in a shelter close to other dogs usually makes them insecure, which causes stress. A fight or flight reaction occurs. “Ideally, every rescued dog gets to be isolated for the first 72 hours. This period allows the dog to decompress, which basically resets how they are mentally wired and at the same time this creates trust.” 

Whenever possible, SAR places a rescued dog in the pen located at Trina’s house so it can calm down and get a mental reset. However, this isolation is not always logistically possible and resources, like most other animal rescues, are limited. All SAR volunteers are very grateful for Trina’s training efforts - she has helped Zoey, Shadow, and several other dogs find - and keep - great homes. 

Dogs are not humans

What causes the most common behavioral problems? Trina believes behavior is all about communication. Recently, an adopted dog was returned because she kept snapping when her owner tried to put her on a leash. “When a dog is pushed over its threshold, it will respond by (unwanted) behavior. I always look at what triggers a certain type of behavior. Why is this dog snapping when a leash comes into play? The goal of my training is to offer an alternative to either the behavior or the response of the dog, or sometimes both.” 

Trina believes that every dog needs some type of training, either by a trainer or its owner. Usually, the dog’s owner is part of the unwanted behavior. “I try to reflect on this positively. People often humanize a dog, stripping it of its identity. It’s an animal. Sometimes, they can look guilty, but they don’t really feel the part. They are actually responding to a change in your tone.”

However, you can’t always change a dog’s behavior. In that case, it’s important to learn as an owner how to manage that behavior. “Your dog doesn’t like children? Then don’t put it in front of children” Some traits in dogs are genetic, so they are simply born with a certain type of behavior. For instance, if you’re looking for a couch potato you might want to reconsider adopting a herding dog. 

What’s next?

“In the future, BAGDU will continue to evolve on a larger scale. I would like to expand the number of our trainers. By training more dog trainers, I hope to make a difference in even more dog’s lives. Furthermore, I’ve been eyeballing a space near my house which would be great for expanding the number of pens I currently have. Unfortunately, my resources are also limited. I’m looking into grant and crowdfunding possibilities to help realize my dream.”

Everybody at SAR is very excited that Trina has joined the Board of Directors. Besides her training skills, she will be excellent in promoting team efforts as she is great at bringing people together. “I felt honored when they asked me to become a member because my heart lies within animal rescue. SAR views every animal like its own, not as a number, I really admire the quality of care and the adoption process. I have deep respect for what all volunteers have been able to accomplish over the years. As a board member, I hope to influence changes, and improve the lives of animals while they’re waiting for a new home.”

Also interested in dog training?

Every other Saturday, Trina is making a few hours available for small classes on specific dog behavior issues: leash pulling, dealing with anxiety stressors, impulse control, and basic obedience tasks. This special offer is available on a first-come, first-served basis for only $20 for up to an hour (please note: dog behavioral training usually costs upwards of $100 per hour).

Are you interested? Please contact Trina by phone at (+1) 660 460 1417 to schedule your training.