Pawfection Dog Training


Photo by Donna Nichols

Allie Nichols, Editor-in-Chief

Pawfection Dog Training is a program dedicated to working with dogs through a holistic approach- teaching obedience and agility while creating a connection. Located in Seminole County, they offer classes for behavior modification, therapy and service dog work, group socialization, and search dog work. Darryl Payne is the consultant trainer and keynote speaker. Pawfection has trained over 300,000 dogs worldwide, for they work with “all dogs, all ages, all problems,” according to their website,

Pawfection aims to “train both ends of the leash so that each and every dog can be an excellent part of the family,” according to Sarah MacKay, an instructor for agility, obedience, and therapy dog training. There are set classes for agility and obedience on Saturdays as well as other schedules for specific groups and home visits that “are guaranteed for life.” 

MacKay said one of her favorite moments she treasures with the Pawfection team is “being able to put together and arrange a day for a little girl whose last wish (in partnership with Make-A-Wish) was to spend the day with dogs.” The team brought together 45 dogs and 26 puppies for her to love on for the whole day. 

MacKay further shared her experience working with Pawfection for the last year. She first trained her own dog Edwin before volunteering then finally officially being on the team. Her love for dogs started back when she was 12 and she helped her dad train hunting dogs in Michigan, almost 20 years of experience working with dogs. 

Pawfection’s Therapy training, separate from service dogs, is for the community, from the community. Trained by Darryl, Pennie Sarah, Sally, Ellen, or Nicole, anyone in the area aspiring to have a therapy dog can sign up. Cohorts can vary from 15 to 20 human-dog pairs and last for six months. In honor of our four-legged friends, each class is given a hero dog name, and the members have to memorize the story along with dog care procedures and therapy training facts to pass the final exam. 

Pawfection wants to know where the bond between human and dog comes from and parts of its history. Named after hero dogs, the groups learn their story. Smoky was a Yorkie found in New Guinea by an American soldier during WW2. Eventually, she found her way to Corporal William Wayne and back-packed with him during combat flights. Balto was a husky sled runner during the 1920s. He transported vaccines and medicines, sometimes more than 20 miles, to Nome Alaska. Laika, a Moscow street dog, was the first dog to orbit the earth and the first dog in space overall. The Soviet space team called her charming and quiet. These dogs have done so much more humanity and deserve attention.

WSHS student Kristina Dunphy worked with Pawfection for her AP Capstone research project with expert advisor Pam Gaskill who has a therapy dog of her own. Dunphy studied rates of prosocial behaviors in students with versus without a dog present. She worked with four dogs for about an hour and a half. She said, “I had a really fun and knowledgeable experience with Pawfection.” More information can be found on their website: or call 407-456-1066 to get in touch with a trainer.