By Jacqueline G. Goodwin, Ed.D.

When in the Lehigh Valley, if you see a wagging tail or a smiling dog owner, it’s possible they’ve taken advantage of the multitude of services offered at Leader of the Pack Canine Institute.

“Helping people enjoy the fulfillment dogs bring to our lives is truly rewarding. Now, I really do have the best of both worlds. I can work for myself and work with dogs all day,” says owner, Lisa McDonald.

After serving in the military and graduating college, McDonald spent over 20 years in corporate America in the accounting profession. Upon leaving the corporate world, she owned and operated several fitness franchises. In 2009, she finally decided to follow her true passion of loving dogs and opened her own canine facility—Leader of the Pack Canine Institute—in Allentown.

Leader of the Pack Canine Institute provides all levels of dog training including puppy classes, adult dog beginner classes, and intermediate and advanced obedience classes. As her business quickly grew, McDonald expanded her services to include doggie day care, boarding and grooming.

“We specialize in all levels and forms of behavior modification including dog aggression and reactivity, resource guarding, and separation anxiety,” says McDonald. “Leader of the Pack also offers private sessions with families held at the training center or in client’s homes.  We have ‘board and train’ packages where we train your dog and impart that knowledge onto the family in follow up sessions.”

It’s a fact. Dogs love to hang out at Leader of the Pack where the doggie day care program is offered seven days a week.   Four play areas which are separated by jaw and paw sizes, as well as energy levels for the dogs to have a healthy and fulfilling social environment for pack interaction are available. Each of the large indoor play rooms also has its own outside secured play area.  “Our trained and professional staff always oversees the play rooms. Pet parents can watch their pets play on our live web cams,” says McDonald.

As an extension of the day care program, Leader of the Pack offers overnight or extended stay boarding.  The boarding program includes multiple options. During the day, dogs can play with other dogs in our play groups and then rest overnight cage free with the overnight staff. McDonald says, “Our newly remodeled private boarding suites are always an option for separate quarters, or for private stay dogs that don’t enjoy being with the pack. Those private stay guests enjoy their own suite for their stay, while getting plenty of human interaction with the staff.” All boarding guests have the option of a la carte items such as cuddle time, frozen treats and play sessions.

Leader of the Pack also provides grooming services seven days a week.  “Our award-winning groomers specialize in all breeds, styles, sizes, and temperaments,” says McDonald. 

Leader of the Pack is run by McDonald, her husband John, son Jason and his wife Morgan, and son Thomas.  Leader of the Pack currently has 35 dedicated employees who all share a passion for dogs.

McDonald has over 13 years of hands on experience of training dogs. “I have been a Certified Professional Dog trainer for the past 12 years through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT),” says McDonald.  “This professional certification requires me to participate in ongoing continuing education which I truly enjoy.  I am also a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP).” McDonald is also a certified trainer and tester for the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Award (CGC).

“There is nothing in this world I would rather be doing,” says McDonald who adds, “Over the years I have owned many dogs including English Mastiffs, Yorkies, Bichons, Labs, and Boxers. Currently I have four Rottweilers and one Chihuahua.  By the way, the Chihuahua rules the pack!”

The full-service canine facility model which McDonald has built is something that she wanted to offer families for a single option of core services to keep dogs healthy and happy in the home. “The business has been such a blessing to me and my family, and the community, that I decided to offer franchise business opportunities,” says McDonald. “My team and I have worked very hard on perfecting the model and are happy to offer this concept to other families that share a true passion for dogs.”

“Leader of the Pack Canine Institute truly cares about the pets and families we meet,” says McDonald. “We take great pride in providing a facility that families can be comfortable knowing their pet is taken care of like it is our own. There is enough stress in daily life and the peace of mind we can give people about the care of their pet is very rewarding.”

“At the end of the day, I am so honored and fulfilled to know I have helped families strengthen their bond with their pets, have helped rehabilitate hundreds of dogs over the years, and have kept them in their homes. And the best part is, dogs have shown me how to live, love, and stay calm.”

Leader of the Pack Canine Institute is located at 6346 Farm Bureau Rd, Allentown, PA 18106. To find out how Leader of the Pack Canine Institute can be a part of your pack’s overall wellbeing go to You can also follow Leader of the Pack Institute on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the franchise business opportunity go to

“We welcome new clients and look forward to meeting some new furry friends,” says McDonald.

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