Welcome to Du Nord Dog Training and our family. Located in the Twin Cities, Du Nord’s mission is to empower owners and their dogs to develop a foundation of healthy relationships and structure to navigate all phases of life.

We started out like you. We wanted a cute pup to play with and take on hikes. When we went to adopt Ocho, he had some “issues”, but as people who had dogs before, we didn’t think it was anything we couldn’t handle. And boy were we wrong! Our new dog jumped on guests, counter surfed, obsessively dug up the backyard, and made walks wholly unenjoyable. Ocho couldn’t be left alone for a minute, was a nightmare in the car, and had a penchant for eating feces. He also showed adult and child aggression and redirected some of that on us. We were certain that if we just walked him more, we could get through it. This fallacy led to some seriously unsafe situations. We went through a behavioral specialist, trainers, and tears before we ultimately found a balanced dog trainer in Portland, OR (thanks KindredDogPDX!). This kind of training not only course corrected Ocho, but changed our mindset and led us on a path to doing better now that we know better. We learned that it wasn’t just our dog going through training, but more importantly, us learning to provide the structure our dog needed so he could continue to be successful. Whether your dog is pulling on the leash, refusing to come when called, or being an all around bratty housemate, Du Nord Dog Training is here to help you. If you are unfamiliar with balanced dog training, check out our FAQ section.

Meet the Trainers

Emily Villanueva

Splitting time between dog training, being a social worker, and corralling a  baby and pre-schooler. Emily grew up with golden retriever hunting dogs and one very quirky miniature schnauzer. Throughout her life, she has always walked dogs and dog-sat for friends and family out of town. When her and her partner decided to get a dog together, she thought, “Easy Peasy.” Though, that turned out to not be as simple as she thought it would be, it did challenge her to learn a lot of new skills and think of dogs and dog training in a new way. She is excited to share these skills with you and help you feel more equipped with your dog at home. Her favorite things about training dogs include improving people’s day to day lives, seeing how balance and structure ultimately leads to more freedom and fun, and getting to work with all different kinds of breeds and families.

Giancarlo Villanueva

Software engineer manager by day, dog trainer by night, best dad 24/7. Carlo grew up with dogs and cats as a kid and has always had a love for animals. Using his skills as a software engineer, Carlo is able to quickly problem solve and come up with creative ideas when dealing with tricky dog issues. He is incredibly effective at shaping behaviors due to his patience and breaking down each problem into manageable steps. Carlo injects a lot of fun into dog training and keeps everyone at Du Nord having a good time. His favorite things about dog training include overcoming challenges that are unique to each dog, seeing the progress throughout a board and train, and helping families.

Isabella Villanueva

Chaos creator by day, dog trainer assistant by night, cute kid 24/7.  Izzy loves to help boss the dogs around in the house and challenge her parents in making sure she does not harass them. Du Nord works hard to keep Izzy safe and will prescreen clients to determine if a dog would or would not be a good fit for our household.  Her favorite things about dog training are trying to find any kibble left on the ground, desensitizing pups to loud noises, throwing a ball for them, and running around to make dogs practice impulse control.


Cora Villanueva

Newest and youngest member to the Du Nord pack, Cora is making waves in the dog training world. She’s helping desensitize dogs to baby cries, teaching them valuable lessons of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” and reminding us daily that so much of training our dogs is so we can enjoy their presence while doing other things – like playing with a baby on the floor! 


Ocho Villanueva


Du Nord Dog Training inspiration by day, dog trainer assistant by night, cute puppy 24/7. Ocho spent the first year of his life in California before a rescue in Portland, OR brought him up to the Pacific Northwest.  He gave Emily and Carlo a run for their money when they first adopted him, but has slowly settled into a new life after moving to Minneapolis.  Ocho loves a good nap in the sun, off-leash play with his cousins at the lake, and finding a squeaker in a stuffed toy. His favorite things about dog training include showing new pups how place duration works, being involved in proofing commands especially when food is a reward, and lots and lots of pack walks.