pawz-tive dog training

Meet The Trainers

kate smith, certified professional dog trainer


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.



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 Puppy Training, Basic/Advanced Obedience , Off Leash Training 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!

picture of niketa

Michelle zaltsman, Trainer & Handler

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.

Savanna Zappia

Savanna Zappia

Master Handler

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.


Ketly Jean Pierre

Ketly Jean Pierre

Handler & Trainer

Ketly has been an avid animal lover since childhood. Her love and fascination for training dogs began in 2009 when she became the owner of a Cockapoo puppy named Eclipse. She was amazed with how intelligent and eager Eclipse was to learn and how fast she picked up new commands. Since then, Ketly continues to learn new ways to help families learn how to communicate with their dogs to help them co-exist in a balanced household.

Ketly has experience in puppy training, behavior modification, and is working towards gaining more experience training both Therapy and Service Dogs.


Dariana Giannerlli

Dariana Giannerlli

Trainer & Handler


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

Our Philosophy

Slip Leashes

The foundation to teaching your dog leash pressure and how to properly respond to you when taking them for a walk.


We tap into your dog’s value system and use it to our advantage. 

The Harness

We highly recommend them, but there’s only a select few brands we endorse- from leash walking to sporting and protection work. 

Starmark Collars

An alternative and less aversive option than the Herm Sprenger


Dogtra, SportDog and Educator Technologies are the only Brands we train with for Off Leash Training. E-Collars are great for Tone Recalls (Rover come!) and also for Deaf/Blind Dogs. 

Marker Training

We encourage clicking, targeting, shaping and marking actions and behaviors- Pavlovian Style.

Herm Sprengers

These collars can be used incorrectly and abusively. It’s important to work with trainers who know how to condition your dog properly to walking on training collars such as prong collars. They are not for every dog or owner. 

Long Lines

Leashes are a great tool to use in any envirnoment. Long line leashes can be up to 50ft long to give your dog more freedom and challenges to obey commands on cue at more advanced distances.


Much like any other leash or collar, martingales apply pressure when there is tension on the leash. These collars are great for training dogs who are sensitive and have low energy drives. 

Retractable Leashes

We find purpose in every tool and if used properly, retractable leashes can be very helpful to training your dog in certain areas of obedience. 

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