I have had dogs for the past 25 years and have taken numerous obedience, agility and behavior classes with them. Also I have attended dog camps and several canine seminars throughout the eastern coast. I am currently taking a Recall canine class with Melissa Ellis and must say I am extremely pleased with her methods of training. This has been my first class with her Happy K9 Academy and before the classes even ended I have signed up for 2 more because I am shocked and amazed at how well my dog has been doing since attending her class. Melissa’s classes are very positive, humane and fun! The variety of topics are interesting, important and touch all facets of dog training and behavior. She is great with the students (both canine and human). And the results are remarkable!!! She is pleasant and friendly and really cares for you and your “furry kid”. It is a pleasure taking classes with her, feeling comfortable and confident, she makes you feel at ease. The training academy is well equipped, organized and enjoyable to be at. I highly recommend Melissa Ellis and her Happy K9 Academy and am looking forward to many more classes.


I can not say enough about Melissa and Happy K9! I have a young fearful and reactive Miniature Australian Shepherd. I had almost given up on being able to change his behavior when I heard about Melissa Ellis moving to the area. We began working with Melissa about 6 weeks ago—and what a difference it’s made! Fizz has made so much progress during this time. With Melissa’s help, I am able to read his body language and detect signs that he’s getting stressed and stop him from reacting. He is showing SO many more positive behaviors. Not only did she work with us in her climate controlled facility, but she also came to my home to work with us. Fizz has progressed to the point that I entered him in a recent CPE agility trial. Not only did he focus on me and ignore the distractions in the ring, but he also qualified! It was such a proud moment for me. I look forward to continuing to work with Melissa because I know Fizz and I will benefit greatly from it!

My shy Miniature Australian Shepherd, Bubba, has recently been attending Prep School at Happy K9 in order to boost his confidence. I am happy to say that he’s doing well. I get a detailed report on the behaviors they worked on and how he responded. Melissa also offers a variety of group obedience classes and I look forward to registering Bubba—and soon Fizz!

It’s evident working with Melissa that she loves what she’s doing and is dedicated to helping me achieve my goals with my two little guys. She is always willing and available to answer questions or discuss any behavioral issues I may be having. Both of my guys enjoy working with her—and that says a lot!


Scooter and I attended our first Happy K-9 Puppy class when Scooter was 4 months old. He has since graduated and is now attending “Rockin Recall” as well as Prep School once a week.

Melissa’s training philosophy is the most interactive, kind and, I believe, permanent that I have experienced. This is the third Golden Retriever I have owned over the years that has attended training sessions but the first time I have worked with Melissa. I can say Scooter is outperforming my two other dogs and he is just 6 months old now.

You will love working with Melissa in class. Her dedication and enthusiasm is unmistakable and it is contagious.

Thanks Melissa for showing me how to have a positive, loving, long term experience with Scooter.


After having to put our 12 year old chocolate lab down, we adopted two 9 month old yellow lab brothers, Cam and Enzo-had NO idea what we were in for!! Melissa has “rescued” us with her wonderful knowledge and talent of training dogs. They love her and will work endlessly for her. She has enabled us to enjoy them.


Happy K9 Academy is Top Dog in my book. Melissa came to our house April 28 when our puppy Lucy was only 10 weeks old. Melissa had Lucy doing things that I didn’t think a puppy could do. When she left that day the whole family was shocked at what Melissa had taught Lucy. Melissa not only trains puppies she works with rescue dogs, adult dogs and senior dogs. I have seen her in action with all of them. Her rescue dog Cooper(not to mention the other 3 rescues she has) is living proof of how your dog can be taught. My son James who is 12 loves Cooper and couldn’t get over how Melissa trained him. He looked at Cooper and was very excited to know that he could train Lucy that way.

We went to the puppy class and I was very impressed with Melissa’s expertise teaching the personalities of the different puppies in our class. If I had questions she always called me back and helped me through with what I was having a problem with.

I love the K9 Prep School. Melissa and Christine play, train, walk, take snap shots and give them plenty of love while they are there. Lucy is worn out from using her 4 legs playing and her brain learning. She is worn out for 2 days and learned in the process.

I tell people all the time about Happy K9 Academy and Melissa’s level of expertise. Call her and talk to her about your 4 legged companion and I am sure you will be enrolling your furry friend very soon.


Just a word to say “Thank You” to Melissa, Christine and the Happy K-9 Academy.

I am so excited that we found you! What a great learning experience for both of us, with the Rockin’ Recall Class on Thursday nights. I love Prep School for Dharma. She goes twice a week. This is a great time to help the dogs become socialized with other dogs, and to get one-on-one training with either Melissa or Christine. They are great!

Melissa is a positive, enthusiastic and happy person, and that is her approach to teaching. On top of that add exceptional knowledge. It is obvious, she loves what she does!

I highly recommend Happy K-9 Academy. With the variety of classes offered, there is something for all. We’ll be taking more. I want what is best for Dharma and. . . We’ve found it here!


We searched all along the Grand Strand for a dog trainer. When we met Melissa we knew we had found the perfect match. Happy K9 Academy is a wonderful place! Not only do we love Melissa and Christine, but the facility is superb! They are great trainers and always go above and beyond what is expected of them. They fill us in on what they accomplished and worked on that day, and always take extra time to demonstrate how to work with Middy at home. Both are very patient and kind to our puppy. We could not feel more comfortable leaving Middy there. In the morning when we arrive at the school Middy runs to the door, with her tail wagging like she just arrived home. Without hesitation or reservation, we highly recommend Happy K9 Academy for all your dog training needs!


Happy K9 Academy (HK9A) is very aptly named. I am happy because there is finally an indoor “climate controlled” facility for year-round dog training in Murrells Inlet. My dogs are extremely happy to go to their weekly ½ day of Prep School with Melissa Ellis that not only works their bodies, but their minds as well.

When Stan, my rescued Smooth Fox Terrier, attends HK9A his tail never stops wagging as he eagerly waits to learn his next task. He is currently learning to walk through a horizontal agility ladder that helps improve his overall coordination and teaches hind end awareness.

Henry, my rescued Miniature Schnauzer, cannot wait to return to dog school. Since having back surgery almost two years ago, I had been very cautious with Henry’s activities. Melissa’s brand new facility has rubberized flooring ensuring Henry safe footing as he resumes his obedience foundation training.

I am also happy that I receive a written Training/Activity Report detailing Stan’s and Henry’s progress each time they attend Prep School. The report is a great way to record their HK9A education.

With the variety of dog training classes that Happy K9 Academy offers, I don’t know which ones to register my dogs in next . . . tricks, nosework, rally or continue with obedience? Fortunately, Melissa will be there to help me select the classes that will be the best for my dogs.


Melissa knows how dogs think! She shows you how to communicate your intentions to your dog so that they figure out what you want them to do and then they will try to do it! Melissa has many positive ways of helping you and your dogs work and learn together. Our two dogs, Buddy and Penny, are becoming more settled down and able to take direction from us as we use Melissa’s methods. They’ve always been wonderful, but we enjoy them more as they become less tyrannical and they enjoy working and learning themselves.


I thought there was no hope for my dog. He was extremely dog aggressive (and sometimes people aggressive) and I just could not believe that this behavior could be changed. So I was a bit skeptical when I started the process of training him with Melissa. But I was wrong. Melissa is extremely knowledgeable, talented and master of her craft. After the first training session I had my dog responding to 3 different commands! Melissa explained the strategy behind her training and it all made sense (and worked!). I am very grateful for the tools Melissa has provided to me to help my dog become healthy, happy and stable.


Melissa is the best dog trainer I have ever had the pleasure of working with. She keeps her classes very small so that you get lots of personal attention. Melissa is interested in hearing your goals and problem areas, and tailors her classes to the needs and personalities of the dogs (and people!) involved. Her cheerful personality, great creativity and unflappable demeanor help put the dogs and their owners at ease. Melissa will take more than the prescribed time to address any issues and concerns you may have.
My dog Pearl is a rescue dog, and was very fearful when we first started class. However, through much patience and positive reinforcement from Melissa, she was able to relax and make great progress in just 5 weeks.

Melissa does an excellent job utilizing every behavior (desired or undesired!) as a learning opportunity, and she never embarrasses or belittles either the owner or the dog. I would highly recommend Melissa as a partner in training your dog and fostering a healthy relationship between you and your dog.


Melissa Ellis has been a trainer for our beloved Savannah for 5 months. Savannah was rescued from a shelter in Georgia and thus, we had little knowledge of her background. One thing for certain was the fact that she was a very fearful dog, who was most likely abused. Savannah was a handful to say the least; that is, until Melissa came to our home.

During the time that Melissa spent with Savannah and me tremendous headway was made. Savannah is a very smart, but stubborn lady. Melissa managed to assuage some of Savannah’s fears, which made her a much more manageable dog. Now, Savannah knows her commands, is less fearful of strangers and behaves around other dogs.

Melissa deserves the credit for helping Savannah become a true family dog. Melissa’s love for dogs is quite apparent and is seen through her gentle, understanding and compassionate treatment of them. She brought special treats for Savannah and always had a solution to any problem that arose with the dog.

Her professionalism is seen through her continued contact with the dog owner throughout the training sessions. She was never late for an appointment and always tried to work her schedule to accommodate our schedule.

It is without reservation that I recommend Melissa Ellis as your choice of trainer for your dog. Once you meet her and see how your animal reacts with and toward her, you will know that the choice has already been made for you. Allow her to utilize her skills to help make your pet a wonderful member of your family.

Savannah and I will miss her greatly.


Melissa Ellis has been a monumental influence not only on my dog, but on me as well. Before Melissa, I did not know the benefits of positive reinforcement. I used a medley of corrections and food reinforcements to train my rescued reactive pit bull mix. I was unable to build his confidence and trust in me as his owner and companion.

I met Melissa at an all natural pet food store where I was working a number of years ago. Her fostering of border collies, and multi breed household was inspirational. We each had dogs whom were crazy for tennis balls and upon her recommendation I got my dog into flyball, a perfect sport for a dog who is obsessive about tennis balls, and an environment where that can be used for his benefit. He was a natural! The facility where I was taking the flyball class also offered other classes taught by Melissa. After watching her aw-inspiring heel with her long haired Chihuahua, and her border collie I decided I couldn’t live without the focus and connection that was so apparent in her relationship with her dogs, with my own. I took my first heeling class with Melissa and haven’t been the same since.

Her vast knowledge base of canine behavior and body language was remarkable. The amount of knowledge I got just from that first 5 week session was life-changing. My relationship with my dog has improved exponentially. The focus and connection we have was non-existent before my class with Melissa.
Now after 3 heeling classes, 2 agility classes, and a feisty fidos class (for reactive dogs), I have a dog who trusts me and craves to work for me. He’s come leaps and bounds from the dog he was prior to my first session with Melissa but it does not compare to how far I have come as a first time dog owner.

I owe Melissa more than I could ever sum up in a few words. She is my best resource. I am beyond upset to see her leave. She will be greatly missed. Melissa is an amazing person, and a brilliantly skillful trainer. Her ability is incomparable. She is a priceless resource which will leave a void in our lives.


I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to Ms. Ellis for all she has done to teach myself and my 10 month old boxer, Sligo. I have a brain injury and Sligo is my fourth dog. Melissa has been so understanding and supportive in our training sessions. Sligo loves to see her, and responds positively to his training sessions. Melissa is top notch in her understanding your animal and its training needs. She listens to the owner, and will go out of her way to help in whatever way she can. You are on the path of creating a happy, family dog when you train with Melissa. I am surely going to miss our sessions with her. Very sincerely, Bridget De Mercurio and Sligo


Sorry to see you leave NY 🙁 But our loss is SC’s gain 🙂

Thanks for the wonderful help you have given us in training our spunky Yorkie, Maggie. As you recall, we had picked your name out of the book. You got back to us immediately. From our first conversation it was clear that you were the trainer for us. We were very impressed with how your first concern was with advising us on Maggie’s immediate needs in her new home with us, even before establishing that we would hire you to come help us train her. The moment you walked in the door, your expertise was clear. You made more progress with Maggie in the first five minutes than we did in a week. The instructions and exercises you left us to do with her were simple and clear, and just as important, fun to do. You were training us as much as Maggie. I thank you for your patience!

We wish you well in your new home. I’m sure you will prosper!


When I adopted my Blue Heeler puppy Cooper, I did not know how in over my head I was. I never owned a puppy before and did not fully comprehend what an active breed heelers are. I knew I needed help or I was never going to survive! A friend put me in touch with Melissa at Happy K9 Academy. The first time we spoke I was a babbling crying mess and I did not think I could handle raising such an active puppy that ate everything and peed everywhere! Melissa was immediately calming and reassuring and offered to come over to meet Cooper.

From the second she stepped into our house we were a changed family. On her first visit she taught Cooper how to sit and worked on training ME. She taught me about giving Cooper boundaries and rules otherwise he would think HE was the alpha of the house. We then agreed to meet every week for 6 weeks to work on Cooper’s manners and my behavior as a pet owner. It was so convenient having Melissa come to our house to work with us. Cooper was calmer being in his own environment, and Melissa got to see him interact with our cats and see how he behaves in his comfort zone. She worked around our schedule and was very flexible with her availability – which we appreciated immensely. Correcting poor puppy behavior was so easy with Melissa’s help. We stuck to her methods 100% and Cooper is now a well-behaved loving pup. He has improved his recalls, walks well on a leash, and does not mouth or bite as much as he used to. I can honestly say that I never would have survived as a pet owner without her help. Not a day goes by that we don’t think about how much she has helped us. Melissa has a natural way of connecting with animals that is very difficult to explain. You have to experience her to understand how truly amazing she is at understanding canine mannerisms! We are very grateful for her help and would HIGHLY recommend her to anyone in need of training – human or canine!!!


Melissa is an excellent trainer. She played an important role in the training of our year old golden retriever. She has an innate understanding of dogs and applies her wisdom and expertise to each individual dog and owner’s needs. She gave us advice on which leash to use and taught us how to train our dog to walk ‘at heel’. We attended her classes and prepared our dog for an obedience competition, which was fun and a great way to increase the communication and bond with our dog. Melissa is truly a dedicated professional. She is patient and thorough, caring and friendly. We would absolutely recommend her.


As an avid pet lover, I decided to adopt my first dog. I went to the local shelter and chose a
black and tan female recently seized due to neglect. I named her Dagmar. She was sweet and very attentive. I, however, had no idea how to handle a dog. Her lack of socialization and neglect became apparent as she began to show food aggression towards my 2 young nieces, whom I lived with. Luckily, it was all bark and no bite, but terrifying enough to seek help. The local pet shop referred me to Melissa. Her rates were reasonable and she was always prompt and ready to help us. Dagmar loved our sessions. She finally knew how to be a dog. Through our training, I’ve grown such a deeper appreciation and respect for my dog. I actually understand her now. She is no longer my pet, but my constant companion and best friend. I am forever grateful to Melissa for sharing her knowledge and helping foster such a wonderful relationship with my first dog.


I have had the pleasure of knowing and eventually working with, Melissa Ellis for many years. I first knew Melissa as the “very attentive mother” of two of my favorite patients, Australian Shepherds, Jacob and Trek. As Melissa’s professional life blossomed from corporate life -to a life of dogs, I had the chance to watch her morph into a remarkable trainer. (Thanks in part to her now much extended canine family!)

I credit Melissa’s success in training to not only her insatiable desire for learning new ideas and techniques but also her ability to relate to the client as well as their four legged team mates. Since employing Melissa as one of our trainers, I have received nothing but praise from clients on her ability to transform unruly dogs and really help build relationships between people and the pets they love.

Melissa’s positive approach to dog training is demonstrated not only in her reward based training but also in her own attitude.

It is with sincere sadness for our loss of truly irreplaceable trainer and with great emphasis that I recommend Melissa to you not only for her ability to teach private and group classes but also her ability to build your business.


Ms. Ellis has worked with our pet retail store for the past two years as a primary referral for dog training classes, individual consults, and in-home training. Initially, she held group dog training classes at the Barkery which were very successful. Her calm demeanor and high level of knowledge about dog breeds and animal behavior were a key part of her success. Ms. Ellis was a ‘name’ in town for dog training due to her very satisfied customers.

For several years, Ms. Ellis has also volunteered at our Annual Street fair and dog parade, Beacon Barks! Her dog agility demonstration using her dogs was a huge success at the festival. She is highly skilled in the area of dog agility as demonstrated through leadership with her dogs while hundreds looked on with excitement.

One quality that stands out in Ms. Ellis’ work is her excellent listening abilities and calm interactions with pets and their owners. I would estimate that more than half of dogs referred to her though our store had moderate to severe behavioral issues. This is an area of strength for Ms. Ellis as she assisted these families in a very professional and successful manner. This included dogs with social aggression issues, food aggression, as well as those with anxieties.

I would highly recommend Ms. Ellis for work positions that deal with basic through advanced dog training, agility training, and dogs with moderate to severe behavioral issues.

Libby Faison, Owner


Anyone looking for an excellent dog trainer should consider enlisting the services of Melissa Ellis from Happy K9 Academy. Melissa was a neighbor of mine and although we would wave to each other we never had any real interaction mainly because of busy lives we all have. A little more than a year and a half ago we lost our best friend “Ben” a 13 year old German Shepherd and found ourselves so lonely that we immediately got a new little guy. Melissa passed me on the road one day as I was walking my new puppy and spoke with me about training and told me that she had just started a new puppy class that week. My veterinarian had also been telling me to get “Bart” in to a puppy class so when Melissa mentioned it, I decide to join. She had already had one class for this current session so she offered to come to the house to get me caught up with the rest of the class. I found Melissa to always be accommodating to my schedule as much as she could be and made it easy for me. Once attending the first class we also decided to have private lessons as well. My new puppy had a very high drive and was a bit challenging around other dogs, however with Melissa’s training we worked on getting him more comfortable when faced with other dogs. At puppy class, I was exhausted because my dog would bark at the other dogs and was very anxious so I had to keep him busy the entire class so that he would be distracted from the other dogs. The night of the last class when we had to put our dogs through tests to see how they did, Bart made me proud. Even though it was difficult at class he did really well on several of the tests. Melissa’s training had really paid off. I continued with private lessons and whenever we would experience something with Bart and I would explain it to Melissa she would ask to see it and then was able to tell me how to correct it. One example that comes to mind is when I explained we could get Bart to go into the car but couldn’t get him out. Just by seeing what he did when he was in the car, Melissa knew that he was afraid to jump out. She left and came back with a little set of stairs and Bart was no longer afraid to come out of the car. Melissa trains with positive reinforcement and because of the way she worked with me it has made such a bond between me and my dog. I loved my first dog very much, however my connection with Bart is so strong, like nothing before and that I attribute it to the training Melissa provided me and my dog. We have a strong bond. If you want an excellent trainer that trains with positive reinforcement, then Melissa is the person for you.


Melissa became a part of our lives when I was looking for an outlet for my high energy Black Labrador, Abby. From our initial conversation, I was inspired and encouraged by Melissa’s enthusiasm and passion for dog training. She was so knowledgeable about dogs that I couldn’t wait to meet her! We worked with Melissa initially in training Abby for Rally Obedience. We enjoyed this greatly! I decided to refocus our efforts into training Abby to be a harmonious part of our household, as I work from home and didn’t know what to do with her while I worked. Melissa helped me to understand Abby’s energy drive and the way she thinks. She came up with many creative solutions that have helped immensely. She understood that Abby just needed something to focus on, so that I could concentrate on my work. Melissa was patient with me as I worked to understand Abby, and Abby simply adored her! She just has a way with dogs! She gave me so much insight and tools to work on, and her enthusiasm and confidence never waivered! She really transformed my relationship with Abby, by making me see how smart and willing to work she was, and giving me the tools to train her myself. When Abby developed some health issues, our relationship changed from trainer and client to friends, as she gave me the support I needed exactly when I needed it. I can’t find the words to express my appreciation for the time Melissa took to be with Abby and us during this distressing time. Thankfully, Abby continues to thrive. Without a doubt, working with Melissa changed my relationship with my dog. We will miss her terribly and wish her much success.


We’ve had two appointments with Melissa Ellis and began to see results after the first visit. She came into our home with the skills and knowledge to help us manage our two Chihuahuas fear based behaviors. Melissa taught us techniques for modifying their behavior and increasing their confidence so they are comfortable in the presence of others in our home. She was very patient when discussing what areas we found more challenging. There was never a time that we felt rushed or were made to feel that we should be learning more quickly or that our problems were not to be taken seriously. She praised us for what we had accomplished, was clear about what we still we needed to work on, and assured us that with consistency we would accomplish more. We highly recommend Melissa to anyone who truly wants to have a rewarding relationship with his or her dog.