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Claudia Sihler
Phone (907) 357-2521

1400 Regine Ave
Wasilla, Alaska  99654

Full Member

Approved Trainer
DOGO approved trainer


Meet Our Staff


Since 2002
Owner, manager, lead trainer, play supervisor

Claudia started The Better Companion as a 1-person dog group training business in 2002, using different locations. The Regine Dog Training Facility opened in 2005, where Claudia and her husband Frank added supervised Open Play Times and later daycare. The Better Companion now employs 2 office people, 3-4 instructors, 2-3 class assistants and 3-4 daycare supervisors. 

Claudia always LOVED dogs and started her career in Germany with walking dogs for other people off-leash, working as a veterinarian and taking her own dogs to obedience and agility classes (and a first agility trial in Germany in 1999.) Claudia first learned about positive reinforcement training through a veterinary colleague in Germany in the late 1990s. 

Learning about force-free training and proper communication with our pet dogs was new back then, and it intrigued Claudia to become a trainer or behavioral therapist for dogs rather than working as a veterinarian. 

When life brought Claudia to Alaska in 1999 and after she married Frank in 2001, becoming a dog trainer was a dream come true! 

In 2003 Claudia became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KSA,) renewing every 3 years since. Later she added the certification as an Accredited Dog Trainer through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC-ADT) and a Treibball Trainer certification in Germany. Claudia is a member of the APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) and attended multiple APDT conferences for dog trainers, Clicker Expos, workshops and lectures on dog behavior and instructing clients.

Claudia competed in countless Agility, Nose Work, Rally and obedience trials, participated in several online Treibball challenges and trained all her dogs to be off-leash hiking dogs, later accompanying Claudia and Frank on their horseback riding adventures. Many of you might remember Sally, the Aussie/Husky-mix or Lucy, the Jack Russell Terrier.

Currently Claudia and Frank share their couch with one dog, Alaskan Husky Lucena (Luce, 5 years.). They also own 4 horses; 1 Mustang (6 years) and 3 Icelandic Horses (4, 7 and 31 years) for trail riding, packing and mounted archery.


Since 2011
Daycare supervisor for almost ten years, now office attendant

Jare started her journey with The Better Companion in August of 2011, hoping to learn even more about positive reinforcement and expand her overall dog-related knowledge. She was delighted, being offered the opportunity for a job as a Doggy Daycare supervisor. She happily took the job and stayed in that role for 10 years, loving forming strong bonds with the pups and with the clients that trusted her with their dogs every week.

Around the time her 10th year with The Better Companion was coming to a close, she decided she would like to now join the forces "behind the scenes" and help out in the office. While she does dearly miss her days spent surrounded by the dogs, Jare has really enjoyed her past year or so in the much quieter and peaceful office environment. Luckily, she still sees the dogs she loves daily, so it is the best of both worlds.

Outside of loving the dogs from work, Jare also has three dogs of her own.

Aija, a 13 year old American Pit Bull terrier who participated in classes at Betco in her younger days, including Flyball, Weight Pull, and Beginner Nose Work.

Panic, a 7 year old Ibizan Hound who completely captured her heart and helped her find her passion for dog breeds in the Sighthound family. 

Finally, the most recent to join her crew of pups was Chevy, an 8 year old American Pit Bull Terrier mix who has an unmatched love for playing, toys, and high speed romping. 

In the future, Jare's only real plans are to continue with a quiet, content life with her husband and whatever dogs come into her life. 


Since 2016
Senior Trainer (APDT Certification, CGC® Evaluator)

Monica has been involved with animal training for about 20 years. She is originally from Florida but has relocated over 30 times in her life to various states and countries. She finally settled in Alaska 8 years ago and plans to stay here.

She has a BA in Psychology and has worked for SeaWorld Orlando, Columbus Zoo, PetCo, PetSmart, and trained various domestic and exotic animals to perform onstage for theater, movies and TV programs. In addition to dogs, she has also trained a variety of animals such as cats, rats, birds, pigs, goats, horses and exotic animals such as bearcats, capybara, lemurs, lynx, kangaroos, African Crested porcupines and more. She also spent time in South Africa where she lived on a private game reserve to study and research the Big 5 in their natural environment using tracking and telemetry equipment. 

Monica started as a trainer at The Better Companion in 2016 and is now the senior trainer of the facility. She has mentored probably a dozen dog-training students from Animal Behavior College during their internship with us, some of them going on to find their own way and some of them sticking around with us for a bit longer; Danny being one of them. Clients have always been very impressed with Monica, sometimes asking her to expand her dog training into private lessons, and she has done so as much as her time allows. Even Claudia learns something new from Monica whenever she is listening in at her classes.

Monica currently has two dogs, the 8 year old Border Collie named Bo and a 7 year old Bloodhound named Hank. Hank has gone through Nose Work and basic obedience and Bo has gone up to the Junior High class as well as Agility. Bo is also CGC Certified. At home Monica also has a cat, goats and chickens.

In her personal time, Monica homeschools her three children and takes them with her for her hobbies such as hiking, four wheeling, shooting and hunting. She also enjoys reading and knitting during the rare "quiet" times. 

Future plans for Monica are currently limited to continuing and finishing her homeschool education for her children, and The Better Companion is very happy to know that Monica intends to continue working there as a trainer and further her animal training experience. 

Danny Benson

Since 2018
Playtime supervisor (daycare and Open Play Times), class assistant, private lessons (Animal Behavior College certification for training and behavior in dogs and cats)

Danny grew up here in Wasilla with a love for all animals. Their childhood dogs, a french bulldog named Yoda and pug named Noodle, fueled that love. Although it was their Alaskan Husky, Pax who taught them about the fun of dog training and behavior. While they have loved dogs their whole life, they didn't consider the career of dog training until 2017. They took classes at Mat-Su College in Fine Arts, but decided to switch paths and took the Animal Behavior College Dog Obedience Trainer course. As a part of the program, they interned at Better Companion and then were hired towards the end of 2018. They worked in daycare for a while, but then moved to a different daycare, which ended up not being a good match. In 2019 they returned here and worked Open Play Times and daycare for a while before taking over for Jaralynn as the afternoon daycare supervisor in 2021.  

Danny is a Certified Dog Obedience Trainer and a Certified Cat Trainer, both through Animal Behavior College. 

They currently share their life with 3 dogs and one cat. Mei is a 6yr old borzoi who has been through Agility but didn't enjoy it very much. She is currently in Nose Work and is loving it! Silver is a 10yr old greyhound who has been through agility and nose work. She comes to daycare with Danny often. Nox is a 4yr old borzoi and the newest addition to Danny's sighthound gang. He recently went through Foundation Class and Danny is planning on trying him out in Nose Work and possibly Agility. Connie is their 6yr old domestic short-haired cat. Danny would love to bring Connie through Agility, however cat Agility is not offered, so they will just practice at home. 

In their free time, Danny enjoys Art, painting, drawing, cartooning, animation, and crafting. They are also interested in mythology, nature and hiking. 

Danny plans on continuing here at The Better Companion as the daycare supervisor. They would like to continue their animal behavior education and eventually getting more certifications in dog training, focusing mainly on helping shy/ fearful dogs and their owners. 

Amanda Moody

Since 2019
Office manager 

Amanda had her own cleaning business, but decided to hang up her mop in 2019 to join her sister at The Better Companion (and also follow in the footsteps of her mom, Robin, who worked in the office in prior years!) 

She didn't come into the business with a lot of dog experience, but has learned so much during her time here. 

She currently has 2 dogs of her own; Brian the 13 year old Min Pin/Chihuahua and Addy the 11 year old Maltipoo. Both of whom would probably love to take classes at BetCo, but they much prefer lounging in the sun on the porch and napping on the couch. 

In her free time, she also loves to lay in the sun on the porch, and read any book she can get her hands on. 

She is unsure of her plans for the future, but for now, Amanda is happy in her office role and spending her days mingling with the Daycare pooches. 


Since 2021
Class assistant, Open Play Time supervisor

Jennifer was born and raised in Virginia and has been in Alaska since 2018. She says "Howdy!"

She came to the Better Companion in January 2021, to work as a class assistant and an Open Play Time supervisor. Jennifer has not only been super reliable, but also our Go-to, when we need short-notice help, as she lives not too far away and will come running whenever her schedule would allow it.

At home, Jennifer keeps busy with a husband, a toddler, a few chickens & two dogs of her own. Banjo is a 6-year old Catahoula Shepherd-mix and Abby is a 10+ year old Husky Border Collie-mix. 

In her free time, Jennifer enjoys hiking, fishing, off-roading & camping with her family. They have decided to make Alaska their forever home, and Jennifer looks forward to a future with The Better Companion, and whatever that may hold! A dog-training carrier might be lurking!

Heather Becker

Since 2021
Class assistant/instructor (certified dog trainer through Victoria Stilwell Academy), playtime supervisor (daycare and Open Play Times)

Heather grew up as an Air-Force kid and moved around all over the United States (Alaska, Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Idaho, and Arizona.)

Heather has earned a Bachelor's Degree, emphasizing on Culinary Arts and Recreational Management. Between semesters, Heather paid for her degree by decorating cakes, babysitting, and animal sitting (dogs, cats, fish, spiders, and reptiles.) After college, Heather ended up working full-time in retail for nearly six years to pay for a car, while trying to find a job in her profession.

During this time, Heather decided to focus on becoming a certified dog trainer, a dream she already had years ago. Heather was almost done with her dog training certification when she got burnout, trying to juggle the job and certification. Setting her priorities straight, she turned in her two-week notice at the retail job and concentrated on finishing her certification with Victoria Stilwell Academy Online in late 2021.

Heather had already contacted us about opportunities at The Better Companion, and as soon as her time was more flexible, we added Heather not only as a dog training instructor in training, but also as an additional supervisor for our daycare and Open Play Times. While Heather has always been gifted when working with dogs, she also gained hugely in confidence teaching people in a class setting. We hope Heather will keep instructing classes for us in the future, as she is bringing valuable insights from her training through the Victoria Stilwell Academy.

Heather has two dogs who both went through The Better Companion's classes. Koda is an English Golden-Doodle, who is a thinker and has a natural cue when he sees or smells a bear. Emilia is a Lagotto Romagnolo (from Italy, known for truffle hunting.) She accidentally found a person hiding for a search and rescue practice on her first hike through the woods with a dragline, at only eight months old. Emmie soon started Nose Work at The Better Companion.

Heather's hobbies are Anime and giving her dogs adventures like "sniffaris" and other enrichment activities. Besides working at The Better Companion, she has started her own business as a private dog trainer with clients in Eagle River and Anchorage.


Since 2021
Nose Work instructor (AKC SW judge, BH instructor, NACSW instructor)

Valerie is retired from the military and served for 22 years as a RN. She is originally from upstate NY, where she grew up on a farm and trained horses with a specialty training for horses 2-year-old and younger. She took in problem horses and fixed their issues. She taught English riding lessons and jumping, Western Pleasure and Trail riding. She also competed in both and took people out on trail rides in the Catskill Mountains. Valerie loves training all types of animals.

Valerie has attended classes at BETCO since 2010 including Nose Work, Clicker Training, Agility and a Feisty Fido Workshop. She also volunteered for several Nose Work demonstrations at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK, at countless NACSW (National Association of Canine Scent Work) trials since 2013, and BetCo's Responsible Dog Ownership Days.

Valerie breeds West Highland White Terriers and currently owns four West Highland White Terriers that she also competes with in Barn Hunt, Scent Work and Nose Work. The two oldies are Sofee and Dabu, and the young ones (already 4 years now) are Jaxie and Jory. Valerie also plays in Agility and Rally with some of her dogs.

Besides competing, Valerie is also a passionate Barn Hunt instructor, AKC Scent Work judge and NACSW instructor with pending certification from NACSW. She teaches all levels of K9 Nose Work® and supervises weekly Nose Work and Scent Work practices at The Better Companion.


Since 2021
Class assistant/instructor (Animal Behavior College certification for training and behavior in dogs,) daycare supervisor

Heidi has started at the Better Companion as an assistant instructor and daycare supervisor while she attended Animal Behavior College to become a dog trainer in 2022. Now she teaches classes and still helps in daycare as needed.

She previously earned her bachelors in Early Childhood Development, receiving her Teaching Certificate, but decided she wanted to teach dogs and their owners instead of kids.  She owns two dogs that have been through many of the classes at The Better Companion.  Beans is a 7 yr old Alaskan Husky, and Trucker is a 3 yr old Siberian Husky/Malinois mix. 

When she is not working at BetCo, Heidi loves to ski, hike, play piano, and help her husband in their trucking company, Last Mile Transport. Upon completing ABC, she hopes to grow a business offering private lessons to owners and their dogs, while continuing as an instructor at The Better Companion.


Since 2021

Lauryn has been invested and interested in dogs since she was a little kid. When she was 6 she said her dream was to run the Iditarod with beagles. That never happened, but she did throw herself into dog training with as much time and energy as she had. She read every book, listened to every podcast, watched every dog TV show, and learned from messaging with qualified trainers online. From there she went searching for a job working with dogs and found the most positive based training facility in Wasilla, the Better Companion. She started volunteering that summer, and soon was hired to help supervise Open Play Times.

While becoming a professional dog trainer is Lauryn's major goal, she knew that working with dogs in any capacity, as long as it is done force-free and without coercion, will hone her hands-on skills. We immediately fell in love with Lauryn's sincerity and energy, and hired her as a daycare and Open Play Time supervisor, even though we knew she wouldn't be able to work for us year-round. Lauryn ended up helping us out tremendously during a staff shortage in the summer of 2022, until we found new long-term team members. Lauryn also helps us spreading the word about force-free, positive reinforcement training on our Facebook page. 

Lauryn owns 2 dogs, one Yorkipoo, Fudge, and one lab/pittie mix, Dozer. She has worked arduously with Fudge on obedience work, agility, and bomb-proof recall, all in the comfort of her own home. 

Lauryn plans to train pet dogs, and possibly classroom therapy dogs, as a career; hopefully she even gets broadcasted one day. Her dream is to help as many dogs and owners as possible, by creating an all-in-one no-kill rescue, train, daycare, and board facility. For now, she is going to school to earn a degree in Secondary Education, and plans to continue education by earning a degree in Animal Behavior, sometime in the future. She is a huge advocate of the pit bull breeds and hopes to spread awareness and create loving homes for this overly euthanized breed.

Besides dog training, Lauryn's hobbies include reading fiction, being involved in local theaters and plays, attending youth group, creating custom greeting cards, and hiking. We look forward to follow Lauryn's path and hope to create a lasting relationship, helping each other on the way!


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