Sonja Thiels

Dog Behavior & Training Agility Master, CDT

Sonja Thiels

Sonja Thiels passion and expertise of dogs has earned her a variety of titles including dog person extraordinaire. She is a master agility trainer; lead instructional trainer, competition obedience and herding instructor.

Sonja Thiels specializes in aggression management, puppy development, basic through advanced behavior modification and obedience, breed selection, breed knowledge, severe trauma based behavioral rehabilitation. Sonja is also a therapy dog trainer, companion dog instructor, specialized instructor for training for humans with special needs and or impairments as well as dogs with special needs and or physical impairments. She specializes in small breeds, herding, and working dog specific breed modification and she is a rescue dog behavioral rehabilitator. Sonja teaches kennel management, daycare management, canine first aid instructor, group class instructor, board and train, and also serves as a private and in home facilitator. To ensure top quality and consistent service among the staff for Atlanta Dog Trainer and Pet Resort, Sonja heads the curriculum and execution for the staff training.

Sonja Thiels has an inborn love for all animals but especially dogs and horses. She has been studying dog behavior and behavior modification for 15 years and horses for 35 years. She is a graduate of Animal Behavior College and is a certified behavior modification and obedience-training specialist. Sonja is an obedience trainer and aggression management rehabilitator. Sonja is also a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She holds master level titles in agility with her dogs Neige (retired) and Alaia, and is training Micah, her German shepherd, as her 3rd agility competition dog. Sonja also does sheep herding with Maggie Rose her Border collie and Rally with Harry the Terror.

She has broad knowledge working with a diversity of dogs in a variety of situations. She has been a foster mom for various rescue groups in Atlanta. Sonja also donates her time to help abused and neglected dogs. She volunteers her training services to help shelter dogs so they can be placed in good homes.

Sonja Thiels lives with her 5 dogs Neige, Alaia, Harry, Maggie Rose and Micah.


Sonja Thiels is not just a good Agility teacher. She is an amazing observer. She knows what to watch for in my dog and me when we are working together. She has a way of correcting that is always positive – never negative. Her explanations are always clear and corrections right on the money. Praise is a big part of her technique – but not given when not earned. AND she’s fun!

I have learned more about me and my communication skills and body language and my dog during these last 2 1/2 years than I thought possible. I drive an hour each way to class every week and would not consider finding a “more convenient” class. Sonja is the best!

B. Brown


For the past two years Ballys, my lab/golden mix, and I have taken agility classes from Sonja Thiels. Sonja is a wonderful, very knowledgeable and experienced instructor who makes the classes fun, challenging and very interesting. She has a great personality and easily approachable and doesn’t mind my questions. I especially appreciate her ability “to read” Ballys when he is doing well in class and when he becomes confused and most importantly when Ballys has had enough and is tired. She also understands Ballys’ “zoomies” at the beginning of class as a way for him to settle into the course she has constructed. Sonja also works hard to help me understand how important my body position is so that Ballys can easily understand where he should be on the course and what he should do next. Sonja gives herself totally to the class and all the participants all of which makes for a fabulous class.

B. Haake


I have been a client of Atlanta Dog Trainer and Sonja for over a year now. Sonja is a fantastic agility instructor, always keeping the best interest of both the dog and the owner in mind. Her warm, energetic personality created an immediate bond with my dog, Beau. It is as if from the start she saw him as a complete picture. What he wasn’t, and what he was. Her interactions with Beau, and her instructions for me are always geared towards bringing out the best in Beau, highlighting what he is capable of.

Sonja knows how to accentuate and focus on what a dog is doing right. She above all wants to keep the dog in a positive mindset, so the dog himself feels he is making progress and hangs “in the game,” so to speak, with both joy and enthusiasm. She is sensitive to when a dog has given all he is capable of on a given day, and wants him well taken care of mentally and physically, even if it means his stopping for the day, regardless of what time it is, or where other classmates are in their progress with regards to the class agenda. For Beau, sensitive to high temperatures in summer heat, sometimes this means he is finished for the day after the success of only a couple of runs. Sonja knows how to read his body language, and she never fails to do what is right for him.

At the end of our weekly class, dogs and humans both feel a sense of accomplishment and pleasure. No one wants to leave the course area. This is due to Sonja’s talent, personable disposition and great sense of humor, all of which foster a community of support and encouragement amongst participants. I highly recommend her classes to anyone wanting a great class experience with their dog, where your bond grows deeper and deeper as the classes progress.

M. E. Scovel