Our Staff

Ciara D’Arcy  (APDTI021)- Owner / Training Director  
Ciara has always had a love for animals since she was young. After many years of nagging her parents for a dog, it was at the age of ten that she wore them down; a gold fish was no longer a good enough substitute! That’s when Trudy joined the family, a JRT cross rescue dog from the DSPCA. Then there was Callie , a very active and very much loved Golden Cocker Spaniel  who came with her own challenges and was the driving force behind Ciara increasing her knowledge and experience in the Canine behaviour world. Callie lost her fight to Cancer in 2014 and soon after Oscar became the new family  edition. A Cocker Sp.X Poodle in need of a new forever home found one with Ciara. Oscar enjoys days in daycare and out of the office dog sport activities  Flyball & Agility with his human mammy! 🙂  Mary is the newest edition to the family; a 12+ yr old Lurcher.

Ciara worked for the Irish seal sanctuary and in a local veterinary hospital for a number of years prior to opening up The Dog Den and is active in helping unwanted/abandoned dogs find a new permanent loving home. Over the years Ciara worked in many non-animal related jobs, with her background in Sales and Marketing, but with little satisfaction. After obtaining her FdSc Degree in Animal Management from Essex University, UK where she specialised in companion animals, Ciara went on to further her qualification and knowledge in the area she had most interest and passion for: dog training. Over the next 2 years Ciara continued her studies and obtained her Certification in Canine Behaviour & Training, which led on to her achieving a distinction in her Diploma in Canine Training & Instructing. Ciara is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer assessed by  the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Ireland (APDTi) Reg. No. 021., and aims to do her assessment for the CCPDT (International Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers) later this year. Also Qualified Canine First Responder.

The training industry in Ireland is unregulated. This means anyone can call themselves a trainer without any formal qualifications or knowledge so please beware! The assessment criteria for credible certifying bodies is based on the applicants ability to demonstrate practical skills, excellent handling skills, the ability to deal with a variety of behaviours and situations and applicants must have an excellent understanding of learning theory, husbandry skills, ethology, instructing skills and equipment. There is a strict code of ethics and a complaints procedure for members who do not comply. All members conform to the ethos of using force free positive science base methods only, and are required to keep up to date in the field by regularly attending training and behaviour events, seminars and workshops. Many training groups and associations are being formed were criteria for membership is merely a joining fee. Please always research a trainers certifying body and assessment criteria to insure you are being given the most scientific, relevant, up to date training and behaviour information and advice available.


Anthony O’Brien  – Operation Manager

Anthony joined The Dog Den Team soon after we opened as a trainee Groomer  is a valued member of staff.  He will be starting his City&Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Professional Dog Grooming later this year , has studied under the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT), and is a qualified Canine First Responder.

Anthony is a member of the Irish Professional Dog Grooming Association (IPDGA) and continues to train in his area of expertise by attending  seminars and workshops regularly.

Anthony’s animal companions include his house full of birds , and his bouncy Harrier Buster who will always be on hand if we drop some kibble in daycare! 🙂

Darina Strong (IMDT no. 201934)  – Daycare Team / Dog Training Assistant Coach

Growing up as a child with her first best friend, an energetic border Collie named Alf, Darina learned much about dogs, even learning Alf’s language as a toddler by barking and growling at her mother’s co-workers; Alf taught her well! It was the passing of her second dog, Charlie – a much beloved mutt, rescued from Ashton pound – in 2011, that lead Darina to the adoption of four lurchers, and a passion for animal welfare.

It was through a work placement while doing an environmental studies course that Darina initially joined the Dog Den. Upon completion of her course, in which she received a FETAC Level 6 award in Ecology and a Level 5 award in Sustainable Development, that she was offered a chance to join the team as a trainee dog trainer and daycare assistant.

Since joining the team Darina has gone on to complete an OCN Level 4 course in ‘Introduction to Canine Behaviour’, and is a member of  the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT).  She is also a  certified Canine First Responder. Darina continues to train in her area  by attending seminars and workshops regularly.

Since adopting her four beautiful hounds, Milo, Amber, Rufus & Ozzy, Darina & her family adopted a 5th dog, a little Ruby Cavalier called Daisy. Number 6 probably isn’t too far off….Let me guess another sighthound!!! 🙂