pawz-tive dog training

Meet The Trainers


Before I entered the wonderful world of dog training, I trained exclusively with horses for about a decade and also worked as a professional photographer. Fast forward to present day and it’s been four years now that I have been working as a dog trainer- using balanced methods of training and positive reinforcement techniques. I’m a current Tester/Evaluator for the American Kennel Club and an active participating member in the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. I am certified in Canine CPR & First Aid and as a Dog Handler from Alachua County Animal Services. I have a very fun but pragmatic approach and specialize in working breeds, rare breeds and dogs who have severe cases of aggression with people, other dogs, toys and food. My methods are adopted from top dog training legends such as Dr. Ian Dunbar and Dr. Patricia McConnell. I strongly believe in continuing my education as much as possible to better serve you and your pups. My current mentors are Brett Bailey owner of whosagoodboyindustries and I am studying Nino Drowaert with STSK9.

My mission is to help families & their dogs put boundaries and expectations into place through a positive and balanced training approach. The goal is provide the structure your dog is looking for and to be able to have a harmonious life with your family. Each dog is a unique individual and is trained as such.

Kate Smith





Keta is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Vet Technician with a wide-array of experience training the most challenging dogs to young puppies. She specializes in Obedience, Behavior Modification and Agility. Niketa has always had a deep devotion for both dogs and cats and has become an essential part of our whole team.

A huge advocate for Stress Free Handling and L.I.M.A. based training – which stands for Least Invasive Minimally Aversive – she is extremely patient and a library of knowledge when it comes to cooperative care. She is currently enrolled in school to become a Veterinarian so she can learn to provide routine physical care, psychological treatments and emergency nursing care to small animals. There is nothing this wonder woman can’t do!

Niketa Reno


picture of niketa


Originally from New Jersey, Michelle moved to South Florida and discovered her passion for working with animals and children. Prior to joining our team she worked as a certified behavior therapist for autistic minors and it’s without question that her knowledge in behavior modification is demonstrated in her relationship with animals of all types. Michelle takes great pride in her success after three years of working with puppies and older dogs alike that struggle with social boundaries and obedience training. She has an enormous compassion for dogs and is the type of person that will drop everything she is doing to help an animal in need- no questions asked.

Michelle Zaltsman


Savanna Zappia, CPDT


Savanna Zappia, a Florida native, joins our team with over 15 years of general animal experience with an emphasis on dog grooming and harness horse racing. It was fate for her to follow in her mother’s footsteps in breaking yearlings into harnesses and human-horse interaction and eventually finding herself working as a certified dog groomer. Over the last four years, Savanna has been working with rescued dogs and creating loyal relationships with clients, rescue board members, and volunteers.

She is currently PDT’s Kennel Manager and oversees our Board & Train Program and has been with us for nearly a year now. Savanna goes above and beyond for all of our clients and has proven herself as an essential part of the team by demonstrating consistent training and handling in addition to her grooming expertise


Savanna Zappia


Lauren Jager

Lauren Jager

Handler & Trainer


Lauren Jager is an up and coming trainer and the newest addition to our teamHer German Shepherd, Bellamy, is a retired Service Dog and the love of her life who she named after her favorite show Rwby.

Lauren is also a Mental Health Advocate and Service Dog Advocate and she sees herself 5 years from now working with Service Dog Handler teams around the country.


Leon Upshaw

Leon Upshaw

Media Marketing Director


Leon Upshaw has been an avid animal lover since childhood and is originally from Fort Lauderdale and is currently attending school at Broward College for Marketing & Business

To reach him for event booking and coordinating collaborations please email him directly.


Lauren Jager

Lauren Jager

Handler & Trainer


Dariana Giannelli has been apart of our team since 2020 and is our go to trainer for Basic/Advanced Obedience and Puppy Basics . She is a full time student and is majoring in Animal Sciences and plans to become a Zoologist/ Conservationist. Originally from South Florida, she loves to spend her time training Kovu and devoting her time between her studies and our clients

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