Clever Critters Crew

Sydney E. Warner 

Bachelors of Science in Psychology focus Animal Behavior,

ABC Certified Dog Trainer, 
Diploma of Canine Behavior Science and Technology

Sydney Warner is a certified dog trainer through Animal Behavior College and also has a diploma in Canine Behavior Science and Technology from Companion Animal Science Institute. She completed her bachelor's in psychology with a focus on animal behavior from Old Dominion University in May 2020. She is planning on further pursuing her education to obtain her master's degrees in psychology of animal behavior which are prerequisites for pursuing a behaviorist certification. Sydney began working with Clever Critters in 2012 after founder and Associated Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, Ellen Mahurin, recognized Sydney's strengths and invited her to join the team. When Ellen began making plans to move out of the Hampton Roads area, she knew that Sydney would be the perfect person to take over Clever Critters! Sydney actively pursues continuous education about animal training and behavior by attending seminars and conferences annually, working with other educated and experienced professionals in the behavior and veterinary fields, as well as reading, webinars, and other sources to add to her knowledge and skill set. She has excellent judgment when interacting with animals and is adept at choosing appropriate, safe and effective training techniques. Sydney is skilled at basic through advanced training for puppies and dogs and can address numerous behavior concerns. She also works with cats, and is continuing to learn more about additional species. She will see some other species on a case by case basis.

Sydney is a proud member of the

Pet Professional Guild, is a Family Paws Licensed Presenter with Family Paws Parent Education, and is Silver Certified in Low Stress Handling. She recently earned her Fear Free Animal Trainer certification and will soon be working towards her Fear Free Veterinary Professional certification and Puppy Start Right Instructor certification.

Before Clever Critters
Sydney has experience with many professions involving animals including working in the veterinary field for domestic, exotic, and wild animals, shelter work, boarding, zoo keeper for Virginia specific species, and pet photography. Sydney discovered her passion for helping dogs with behavioral concerns after adopting her first shelter dog in 2010. 
Her focus has been with dogs needing behavior modification due to aggressive behavior in addition to advocating against the stereotyping of the "aggressive” dog breed label.

More recently Sydney has become very passionate about cooperative care with pets for veterinary and grooming procedures. Her most recent adoption, foster fail Miko, has been a tremendous training partner for perfecting the skills of this new passion. 


Sydney with her late dog, Wesley.

Forever her muse and heart.

Please consider supporting canine cancer research and more with the

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Shana Ness 


ABC Certified Dog Trainer

Shana is a certified dog trainer through Animal Behavior College and currently working towards her Certified Professional Dog Training – Knowledge Assessment (CPDT-KA). 

While working on her ABC certification, Shana went from volunteering to working at the Jacksonville Humane Society in Florida and put to practice the skills and knowledge she was learning. At the shelter she helped create and implement various behavior modification plans for dogs and cats, helped owners work through challenging behavior concerns by giving them the tools to help their pet, used low stress handling techniques to complete intakes of new animals, and ran daily playgroups. When Shana recently moved to Hampton Roads she began working at the Virginia Beach SPCA and became a Pet Academy Training Specialist. At the VBSPCA, she offered private lessons and workshops to the public.


Clever Critters, LLC was happy to add Shana to the crew in the Spring of 2020. Her background in zoo keeping, conservation, animal husbandry, shelter work, and positive reinforcement training is a wonderful match to the ethics and ideals held by Sydney and to the nature of Clever Critters, LLC. 

Shana and shelter dog Coco

Stay Tuned!

Cathlyn "Cat" Clark
Clever Critters Intern

Cat is currently attending the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Trainers and will garduate with her Victoria Stillwell Certified Dog Trainer, VSCDT, in December of 2020. She is currently Active Duty Air Force and plans on becoming a full time dog trainer upon retirement from the military. Once certified, Cat plans to join the Clever Critters Crew as another certified dog trainer and work with pet parents on basic manners, enrichment, and more!

She is currently a volunteer dog trainer at Animal Aid Society, along with Clever Critters trainers Sydney and Shana. She works with the adoptable dogs on teaching basic manners and increasing their quality of life through enrichment.

Cat is a member of

the Pet Professional Guild and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.


Cat and her crew: Sophie, Baxter, & Brooke