Awesome Dawgs instructors provide training for companion dogs. They are dedicated to teaching people how to train their dogs through positive methods. Proven to be highly effective in reaching dogs, their reward-based style of training does not include aversive tools or harsh corrections.

Awesome Dawgs’ focus is on training you to communicate with your dog in a clear, concise way so that your dog truly understands what you require of him. The result is that you create a bond with your dog from which true cooperation emerges: your dog does what you ask because he wants to do it, not because he is forced, or punished for not complying.

Training classes with Awesome Dawgs are upbeat, fun and productive for you and your dog.

The Awesome Dawgs team actively pursues continuing education in order to bring clients the most cutting-edge training methods available.


Awesome Dawgs is owned and operated by Mary Jo Carabello and Steve Smith, husband and wife, who are both certified dog trainers. Mary Jo and Steve are experienced in group training classes and private dog training and are members of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).

Mary Jo holds a BA from the Catholic University of America, graduated with honors from Animal Behavior College and is Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CCPDT).

Mary Jo is an approved Therapy Dogs International, Inc. (TDI) evaluator and offers therapy dog testing at the Awesome Dawgs training facility.

Steve is a graduate of Canine Training & Management Program at Kutztown University. Steve is an expert in teaching people how to work their dogs effectively in public. He runs a Level Four class (invitation only) that consists of outings to various local venues, the aim of which is socialization and raising the bar on handling skills.

Because of his difficult role monitoring play in The Dawg Park, he has been dubbed ‘Dawg Park Sheriff’ and has a badge to prove it![clearboth]


Steve is a graduate of the Animal Behavior College, Maryland University, and a retired Army 1st Sergeant. He has attended workshops with leaders in the field of dog training and behavior including: Dr. Ian Dunbar, Leslie McDevitt, Patricia McConnell, Steve White, and Kevin Kocker. Steve is an Instructor for the International Bloodhound Training Institute for the state of Pennsylvania. He is also a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator.

Steve is trained in tracking/training and is currently active in his local Search and Rescue team and the locale law-enforcement with his Labradoodle Jaxon which they are “Trailing” Level 1 certified. Steve has held the AKC “TD” Tracking Dog certification and the AKC “SAR-W” Wilderness title and the “Man Trailing” level 1 certification through the Pennsylvania Police Canine Association. Steve also participates in group training as well as individual training with Awesome Dawgs.


Matt is a graduate of Alvernia University with a degree in Computer Information Systems.  In his non-canine “day job,” Matt is an Information Technology professional.  His most recent career roles have involved managing, training and mentoring technical engineers.  Much to Matt’s surprise, he greatly enjoys this type of work and has transferred this technical approach to dog training.  He graduated from the Animal Behavior College and mentored with Mary Jo Carabello.

Matt has shared his adult life with 11 wonderful Australian Shepherds (our current pack is six dogs). and is an active competitor in the world of Canine Disc.  He has been fortunate enough to qualify for the World Championships 10 years in a row and has had several top 10 finishes including a personal best finish of 3rd with his first competitive disc dog Rocky.  Matt has taught several clinics specific to disc and has been fortunate to have learned from some of the best disc dog players in the world.

Matt’s approach to training involves observation of the canine/human dynamic and setting up both sides of that partnership for success.  Just as every human learns differently, so do dogs.  We should appreciate those differences and work with them rather than trying to force a predetermined set of expectations upon our dogs.


Cheryl has a lifelong appreciation of dogs and their amazing ability to learn and adapt to co-existing with humans.  She recently completed Pat Miller’s Peaceable Paws Canine Behavior and Training Academy.   She has attended workshops and seminars presented by dog training and behavior experts, such as Ian Dunbar, Michael Shikashio & Grisha Stewart.

Cheryl is an assistant instructor with International Bloodhound Training Institute for the state of Pennsylvania.

Her current rescue dogs, Mya and Kylie, lead her to Awesome Dawgs where they attended all levels of manners classes and she was introduced to tracking/trailing.  Cheryl has been teaching and training canines in tracking and trailing for many years.  She is active with Middle Creek Search and Rescue and attained Level 1 Scent Discriminant Trailing Certification with her dog Kylie.


Alyssa has been a dog trainer for about 3 years, and was certified in 2019 as a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner.

She started her business Pawz 4 Training LLC in 2019 as a private in home dog trainer, and works at Awesome Dawgs since April 2021 as a dog trainer. [clearboth]


Kathy is a graduate of the Canine Training & Management program at Kutztown University. She began her dog training career with Awesome Dawgs in December of 2013. Kathy retired from her day job as an Insurance Professional in 2019 and moved to the Eastern Shore. She decided that life was not for her so she moved back to Berks County in April of 2022 and rejoined the Awesome Dawgs training staff. Kathy and her husband Lenny currently live in Muhlenberg Twp. with their rescue Pug Maxey.