Wagsworth Manor | Luxury Pet Boarding, Daycare, Grooming & Training

A luxury retreat
          for the furry elite

27 Spring Mill Drive • Malvern, PA 19355 • 610-251-9247


About Our Trainer


 Joy Cowan

 Joy has been training dogs for seven years, and has extensive knowledge in animal behavior.  She studied canine behavior and anatomy at Highland Park Animal Hospital.  She has had her own training business for three years and has trained for local pet businesses.  She is very knowledgeable in Puppy classes, Beginner Classes, Advanced Classes, AKC Canine Good Citizen Testing, and Private Lessons.   Joy also specializes in working with dogs with reactivity issues or nuisance behaviors. 


You can call Joy at 610-251-9247 or email her at Joy.c@wagsworthmanor.com to schedule a training session.






 After one training session with Joy I could confidently walk my boxer and not have him walk me.  Joy showed me different techniques to use on our walks that brought my dogs attention back to me instead of him being distracted by other dogs, cars, and people and pulling me down the street.  Joy was patient with us and took the time to understand my dogs behavior and ways I could control him.  I now enjoy taking my dog for a walk and even get compliments on how well behaved he is on a leash instead of people running away from us.  I highly recommend Joy as a trainer and I am so happy we did a session with her.

Kristin B.

 I know miracles don't happen in one hour, but the way Joy worked with my dog for our sesson was amazing.  She is a very positive trainer, and was able to show me things to work on at home to continue her good behavior.  Thanks again!

Lauren G.

Nicole was awesome!  She is fun, informative and laidback.  Always patient and positive with the dogs and handlers alike!!  My 1 1/2 year old chocolate lab LOVED it, she would get so excited when we pulled into Wagsworth.  We are looking forward to the next class!

Donna M.

My dog and I had a wonderful experience in the Foundations Agility class with Nicole.  He is so full of spunk and energy that I wasn't sure we would be able to focus his attention enough to be successful, BUT, I was wrong!  Nicole did an excellent job of taking things slow and breaking the exercises down into small pieces so that each task would be a positive learning experience for the dogs.  She was very patient and very enthusiastic - my dog loved her.  By the end of the six weeks, my dog and I successfully accomplished an eight obstacle course, off leash (with a few treats to help guide us).  I could not have been more proud of how much my dog learned and progressed.  We can’t wait for the level 2 class!

Leslie S.

I can not say enough about Nicole's class.  Nicole knows that all dogs are different and she is able to see how each dog responds with different methods and show us how to implement them.  My dog really loved the class and we both had so much fun running the course!

Beth J.

My eight month old puppy, Bentley Mc Bee has been under the training eye of your trainer, Andrew Salvitti.  Bentley adores Andrew and really enjoys his once a week  sessions.  Andrew does a great job of keeping Bentley interested and focused.  Since we started a couple months ago Bentley is doing less biting and more listening.  I have found our sessions to be very helpful all around.  Thank you so much

Dawn K.

 Indigo Blue, Indy for short, was a much needed & long overdue addition to our family after the passing of beloved 16 year old Pit Lucy. We found him through a Pit rescue & were his 4th home so gaining his trust and bonding with our family was slow going. Searching for solutions, we decided to take classes with Gretchen Knittel because we wanted someone who could help us work towards making Indy an ambassador of his breed. Gretchen's way of reading and understanding different dogs and her direct and enthusiastic style was something we had not experienced with any other dog trainer. Her passion for dogs and training makes both dogs and humans want to learn more and feel excited about their progress. With her direction we began to better understand our new guy and connect with him as we all learned together. Gretchen challenged us to be better dog owners by expecting more of both us and Indy because she could tell what he was capable of. In Gretchen's class we all learned good manners and that agility, while he'd do it, was not his "thing" but, Nose Works class was. Gretchen helped us understand that telling Indy what he did right, not just what he did wrong was key & this, along with setting clear and consistent expectations made him a well behaved, happy and contented guy. Over time, with the tools we took away from working with Gretchen, Indy seems to feel we are his forever family and we fall more in love with him every day.

Leanne W.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone…. or until you are in front of another trainer.

I hadn’t had a puppy in over 18 years when I met Gretchen. My kids had worn me down and we had an adorable Goldendoodle named Riley. All my kids had ever known was our perfectly mannered, well-trained Black Lab, Casey, who was part of the family before they were born. He lived to be 15 and we were all devastated when he died. Given the chaos of a house with three teenagers I wasn’t ready to go through “puppyhood” again. I am so grateful to Gretchen and her fantastic, patient methods. We began with puppy preschool. Things had certainly changed since I had last trained a puppy; and Gretchen was up to date on the latest methods. Not only did she train our puppies, she trained us as well. When explaining a specific exercise, Gretchen also included the psychology behind it. Understanding WHY we were doing things a certain way helped immensely. Gretchen encouraged us to see things from a puppy point of view, thus making the skills we were acquiring, along with our puppies, make sense. With Gretchen’s explanations we were all nodding our heads and laughing noting how logical it all was…if you were a puppy.

The classes Gretchen teaches are well structured, she has a plan of what she’ll cover and that’s clear to all of us. However, teaching puppies requires a bit of flexibility, and Gretchen could certainly change the direction of the class if her “students” (people and puppies) demonstrated a need. Every puppy and owner receives attention to see that they grasp the concept and are accurately carrying out the proper training. Gretchen takes as much time as is necessary with each team to ensure their success. As a teacher myself, I really admire Gretchen’s ability to work with puppies AND people of such varying abilities. I can’t imagine trying to teach in a classroom with that diverse a group of learning styles, levels of confidence, intelligence, and background understanding it is truly mind-boggling. I do not say this lightly either. She manages to keep the people who “get it” industriously occupied, while working with those who are struggling. When it comes time to demonstrate a task, Gretchen doesn’t use the puppy or dog that is easiest. She routinely chooses the dog that will most likely struggle with it. Her confidence in her ability enables her work with any dog and owner, thereby giving them the confidence they need to be a good team.

Our classes were marked with plenty of laughter, a great learning atmosphere where mistakes were learning opportunities for everyone. Riley and I went on with Gretchen taking as many of her classes as we could and Riley received his Canine Good Citizen designation. I say all of this because…I recently found myself in front of another trainer with a friend’s puppy. We were there because the location was more convenient than Wagsworth. After the first class, I was shaking my head, but I thought that at least the puppy would get some socialization. I barely made it through the second class without walking out. So much of what this trainer did was counter to my vet, Gretchen, and common sense in general. We’re looking forward to starting puppy class fresh with Gretchen…no matter the distance!! So this new puppy, with Gretchen’s guidance, can be as well trained as Riley!

Colleen M.

Hi Gretchen -Thought you might be interested in a Wrigley update! It was about a year ago that she and I started her initial training with you at Wagsworth and, despite the ups and big time downs of those first months, she has become a beloved and - gasp - well behaved part of our family. She is still headstrong and has a bit of mischief in her eyes, but even after rowdy activities with my two sons she now knows what is and isn't acceptable and is able mellow out when asked. Thank you so much for your help and encouragement those first few months. Have a great 2012!


Dear Julie - I can't even begin to say what a blessing it was for us to have found you. Your positive outlook, encouragement and kind spirit have been such gifts to us. We are so grateful for all you have taught and for helping us have the relationship with Chester that we had hoped for. Giving me the tools to work with Chester has undoubtedly changed his life for the better. Thank you so much for everything. Not being able to work with you is one of the hardest aspects of leaving here. You are so gifted in this work and I have no doubt you have made a difference for many, as you have for us. Thank you!

Diana and Chester (and Tucker!)

Hi Gretchen - Larry and I would like to personally thank you for helping us so much with Ally. When she came to us she was unruly and scared and so unsure of life and now all that is in her past and we look forward to forging ahead and enjoying all of the years we have with her. We appreciate your skills and determination in making Ally the doggie we love having around. We wish you Happy Holidays and will see you in January for a Good Manner 2 class.

Sincerely, Maria and Larry H.

Gretchen - I wanted to update you on Charlie's behavior lately. Since completing your last puppy class he has gotten so well behaved. He comes when called, he sits and downs on command, he can fix on my eyes, just waiting for his next command. He doesn't mouth near as often and he'll stop very quickly when I remind him. It truly is a remarkable change that he's gone thru in just these past 6 weeks. I can't wait to see how much more awesome he'll become. My goal is to have him calm and well behaved enough to pass the "Good Citizen" test. So thank you for your guidance.

Sincerely, Peggy, Joe and Charlie P.

I just completed my first Canine Good Manners class with Gretchen Knittel and can't say enough good things about her. She really emphasizes useful practical obedience and creates a relaxed comfortable learning environment for dogs and owners alike. Her ability to read the dogs and develop effective individualized training methods for them is absolutely uncanny. I've been to many obedience classes over the years, but Gretchen's is the first to make such a wonderful difference in my dog!

Carol G.

Hi Gretchen - Long time, no see! HazMat send his very best to you! He continues packing on muscle, and is the best behaved dog ever. He is in the process of socializing our neighbor's 12-week-old toy poodle, putting up with all the ear-biting the poodle's puppy teeth can dish out!

I am sad that we have not been able to take classes with you in a long time. HazMat became a Canine Good Citizen back in the Fall, and my intention was, as you know, to put him in the next available therapy class at Chester County. But our plans have been interrupted because I have decided to move back to my home country of Finland! I will be a complete mess during the long flights when he will travel in the cargo hold in his cage! But he is so laid back, maybe he will be no worse for the wear. We are leaving March 1, and he will be spending a couple of nights at Wags just before so he can be well-exercised and well-played to better endure the long flight. I am very busy with, among other things, settling on my house the day before we leave, so he would be somewhat neglected. Wags is the best option for him during those last busy days. If you have time, please stop by next Mon or Tue to say hello. I know he'd love to see you!

Thanks for all the things you taught us and showed us! My relationship with HazMat is enriched by it. I follow your advice whenever I want to teach him something new, like putting up with his airplane crate. Take good care of yourself and please continue to strengthen the bond between human and animal. Whether that be training at Wags, or dedicating yourself to rescues and rehabilitations.

All the best always from Melus & HazMat!

Nila, my one year old Pit Bull attended the board and train at Wagsworth Manor. Prior to going to Wagsworth for training, Nila was a much loved and spoiled puppy who was in control and out of control at the same time. As she got older and smarter and stronger it became apparent that I had lost control. During the July 4th, 5-day weekend, Gretchen worked with Nila on behaviors such as jumping on people and furniture, talking (barking) when she wanted attention or something she wasn’t getting, and most important learning that I was the alpha in this relationship. On the day that I picked up Nila at Wagsworth, everyone was telling me she was a completely different dog. Gretchen worked with me for about an hour showing me how to keep up the training and techniques that she used with Nila during her stay. Nila’s behavior is drastically improved and everything that I had wanted to achieve during this round of training has been accomplished. Friends and family can’t believe the change. Nila is still the loving, cuddly, playful dog, but it is much more manageable and enjoyable. It is evident that with some professional help from Gretchen and Wagsworth, a willing owner and a smart Pit Bull can be one happy family. We still have some things to work on and I look forward to continuing our training with Gretchen.

Amanda D.

Just wanted to send you a quick note about how pleased we are with your trainer, Gretchen. We were working with another trainer previously and while we were having some progress, the progress we are having with Gretchen’s techniques is astoundingly different. Gretchen is friendly, personable, passionate and professional in the classroom. She makes time to work with the group as a whole and to address individual dog needs. She’s fun to be around and works with all the personalities (dog and human) in the room. In short, she is a breath of fresh air and we are super impressed with her. Thanks.

Karen L.

My dog Daisy and I started obedience training with Gretchen after I read about it on the website. I thought that since Daisy is a rescue, she'd benefit from what the class had to offer. Although she's sweet and trusting, Daisy has a tendency to become overly excited in a communal environment. In those situations, it's hard for her to pay attention and remain appropriately calm. So I was looking for the class to help me with those issues, in addition to whatever else Gretchen thought we'd benefit from.

I have to say that I've been overwhelmingly pleased with Daisy's progress as a result of working with Gretchen over the course of 5 weeks. She can now sit, stay, and settle on (wordless!) command, and is steadily improving when it comes to paying attention to me when surrounded by the distraction of other dogs and people. I've had to work with Daisy on a consistent basis to make sure she retains what we learn in class, but that's only brought us closer and strengthened the bond that makes me love her so much.

Even when class was over, there were several weeks when Gretchen would take Daisy and me aside to ask about our progress. When she noticed Daisy pulling on leash, she suggested ways to correct that. She also helped me understand why Daisy tends to get so excited. It was so neat to understand how my dog was thinking, and how much depended on her history as a shelter dog.

I'd recommend Gretchen's class to anyone. It's been a rewarding experience on many levels for both Daisy and me.

Alicia H.