About Us

Paws Plus Training has a long history in canine scent sports.

Janie Simmons has a long history in scent work sports. She started tracking back in 1990, she earned her first TD in 2000, and began teaching private tracking lessons in 2001.

When she decided to take early retirement from her 9-to-5 job in 2001, Janie and husband Jim found themselves busy with a gaggle of grandchildren. Although she loved playing with the grandchildren, Janie still wanted to play with dogs and “do what I always wanted to do.”

In 2004, Janie and Jim Simmons started Paws Plus Training, a family-owned positive reinforcement dog training company located in Central Virginia.

In 2004, after three years of teaching private tracking lessons, Janie and Jim started Paws Plus Training LLC, a positive reinforcement dog training company. Janie and Jim’s daughter, Jennifer Johnson, became involved with Paws Plus Training in 2006 helping out with the tracking program on the weekends.

Janie continued to grow Paws Plus Training and to expand training programs to include obedience and agility in addition to tracking.  In 2009, Janie also convinced husband Jim to become actively involved in the tracking program.  Around that time, Janie heard about the canine sport of nosework – but it was only offered out in California.

In 2010, Paws Plus Training offered their first nosework class – and it was also the first nosework class offered in Central Virginia!

In 2010, Janie attended the first nosework seminar held on the East coast. When she came back from that seminar, Janie had a new passion. She hand-picked 6 of her current students and offered Paws Plus Training’s first nosework class. “I knew if I screwed them up, I could fix them!” she recalls.

Paws Plus Training has gone from those 6 dogs in the first nosework class to 100 dogs in their nosework program today.

Paw Plus Training is the only training group in Central Virginia with three Certified Nose Work Instructors (CNWI).

Both Janie and Jim became Certified Nosework Instructors in 2011, and Jen followed suit in 2012. In 2018, Jen became a Certifying Official for NACSW. Jim obtained his “AKC Tracking Evaluator” status in 2019. Paws Plus Training has shared their certified nosework and tracking expertise not only with their students, but also with nosework organizations and the U.S. Military.

Janie and Jim lead seminars at the NACSW Nosework Camps held in 2016 and 2018. Collectively, Janie, Jim and Jen have also had the distinction to be approached by the Navy to participate in research that could help the working scent work military dogs.

The trio was first approached to help the Navy evaluate how pet canines would perform and problem-solve finding TNT that was obscured with cutting agents. Janie, Jim, Jen and some of the Paws Plus Students were given 6 weeks to train their dogs, and then they were tested.  The dogs were so successful in the initial test that Janie and Jim were approached two years later by the same group to do a similar test with their dogs and pharmaceutical cocaine. Janie was asked to lead the group. “I was really uncomfortable driving around with cocaine in my car!” Janie recalls.

Paws Plus Training has been hosting NACSW nosework trials since 2014.

In 2014, Paws Plus Training hosted their first NACSW nosework trial at Westview on the James in Goochland, VA. Since then, Paws Plus has continued to host trials yearly in Central Virginia with 50 trial days to date. Paws Plus Training’s involvement in the nosework community isn’t limited to the NACSW, both Janie and Jen are AKC Scent Work judges.

Our focus is canine scent sports.

In recent years, Paws Plus Training has decided to expand our nosework and tracking programs and focus exclusively on canine scent sports. In addition to weekly nosework classes, we hold an annual tracking workshop each November and start tracking classes in December.

We foster the development of you and your dog becoming a team.

Over 17 years later, Paws Plus Training remains committed to the mission of strengthening the bond between you and your dog. We are proud of all our students, past and present, who have worked hard to achieve their goals.

Paws Plus Training is dedicated to enhancing the relationship between clients and their dogs through a fun and positive learning environment. We feel strongly that a lasting and successful relationship between dog and human is built on trust and mutual respect. We believe and only use positive training methods to enhance the relationship and communication between dog and handler. We agree to and follow the positive training standards set forth by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).

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Meet Our Trainers

Janie Simmons

Janie is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), and a Certified K-9 Nose Work Instructor (CNWI), an AKC Certified Scent Work Judge, a CGC Evaluator and a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Janie has been training dogs and their handlers in agility, nosework, tracking and obedience for more than 20 years.

Janie has been an animal lover since birth and often can train a dog to do what she wants in a matter of minutes… training the handler takes longer. To date, she has had numerous experiences in training dogs to compete in tracking, nosework and agility. Frequently her training methods have resulted in dogs reaching the pinnacle of their sport.

Janie has had two Labradors, Zack and Daisy, who earned MACH titles and competed in the AKC National Championship. Daisy also had the honor of being one of the TOP 25 AKC Labs in agility in 2012. In addition Janie and her dogs have earned TD titles in tracking, CD title in obedience, CGC titles and Rally titles.

Janie fell in love with nosework as soon  as she heard about the sport. All of her dogs have earned Nosework titles with 2 of her dogs achieving their Nosework Elite Championship. Rosie (her black lab) has competed in the highest division of Nosework—the Summit Level and to-date has earned 2 Summit titles. Her youngest lab, Coco, just earned her NW3 Elite and loves the sport as much as her mom.

Jim Simmons

Jim is the lead tracking instructor and a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) for Paws Plus Training.

Jim earned his first TD title with Zack after a short period of “handler boot camp”.  Janie was sidelined with knee issues and Jim quickly learned how to handle Zack. Since his start into tracking, Jim has earned four TD titles, and three TDX titles. Jim and Rosie also came within 25 yards of a successful VST.

Jim is also an evaluator for AKC tracking and is able to lay “certification tracks” for a team that wants to enter a TD or TDU tracking test.

Jim has earned many titles in nosework and handled Daisy to her Elite Championship. Jim and Reese (his chocolate lab buddy) enjoyed many years together competing in the sport of nosework, with Reese earning his NW3 Elite at the age of 14.

Jim enjoys watching the development of the “team” with his students (whether it be tracking or nosework). His expertise is in teaching his students about the effect of wind on their scenting sports and also line handling.

Jen Johnson

Jen Johnson started working with Paws Plus in 2008 working with the Tracking program. The joy of watching dogs identify a scent and follow it to the end was fascinating to Jen and gave her the spark to delve into the world of canine scenting sports.

Jen became a K9 Nose Work fan after taking her first class with Shadow, her black lab, in 2010. Shadow was environmentally fearful and K9 Nose Work changed her life. She went from being shy and trembling to an outgoing searcher. Seeing the positive changes in Shadow’s life, Jen began teaching K9 Nose Work classes in the Richmond, VA area with her parents, Jim and Janie Simmons. Through Paws Plus Training, LLC, Jen works with students of all levels to discover and enhance the amazing scenting abilities of dogs. Jen enjoys watching dogs come out of their shell while participating in Nose Work and watching the bonds develop between dogs and their handlers.

Jen graduated from James Madison University and Penn State University, but left the health care field to work with dogs full-time. She and Shadow earned the Elite Championship in 2019, and her younger dog, Ruby, earned her Elite Championship in 2021.

Jen has been a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) since 2011. Together with Janie and Jim, she has helped host more than 30 trial days in Virginia and volunteered at countless trials. She is a NACSW Score Room Lead. In addition, Jen is a Certifying Official and Judge for NACSW. In addition, she is a judge for all levels for AKC Scent Work. She enjoys setting level appropriate challenges for teams and watching teams across the country solve odor problems. In 2021, she became a Supervising Certifying Official and helps train certifying officials for NACSW.

Jen resides near Richmond, Virginia with her husband, son and daughter. She currently trains Ruby in Nose Work and Tracking. In her spare time, she is often watching her kids who are active in sports. She loves watching dogs and their human partners bond and enriching the lives of dogs.