Meet Your Trainers

A shared passion for seeing dogs thrive

Since 1984, Kathy Santo Dog Training has been dedicated to helping individuals and families enjoy better relationships with their dogs.

Literally thousands of dogs and their humans have benefitted from our program’s unique and fun-filled approach to training. Thousands more have gained insights from Kathy’s book, Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense, her articles and her appearances on popular morning TV and radio shows.

We believe that learning is a lifelong process for both humans and their dogs. So, we make sure our program is accessible and convenient for dog lovers throughout Bergen County. We make sure we’re available 24/7, so if you have a problem that needs an immediate answer, you can call us for a solution. And we make sure it’s always fun!

We’re proud of the effectiveness of the Kathy Santo training method. And we’re even prouder of the number of current and former students who keep coming back for more. As a Kathy Santo Dog Training graduate, you become part of our family!

Click a name to learn more about our great trainers!

Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.

For the first ten years of her professional life, Kathy lived in Florida and created one of the most successful obedience schools in the state, offering basic behavior and competitive obedience training. She also developed a deep interest in using dogs for therapy, working with Treasure Coast Humane Society’s Pet Facilitated Therapy Program and helping create a Humane Education Program for the Martin County school system.  In her “spare” time, she competed and won nationally in AKC obedience trials and taught competitive obedience seminars and obedience training camps across the United States.

In Ramsey, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.

Sharing her dog wisdom nationwide

In addition to being a trainer and renowned competitor, Kathy is an accomplished presenter and author.

In May of 2005, Knopf released her book, Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense. She was a contributing editor/columnist for House Beautiful magazine (“Ask The Dog Shrink”) and currently is a columnist for the American Kennel Club’s Family Dog magazine (“Training and Behavior”) as well as Good’s  “Dog Expert.”   She has been featured in Redbook magazine, Dog Fancy, and NY Dog, as well as national newspapers.

She was a regular guest on the Martha Stewart Show and has also appeared on the Today Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, CBS Early Show as well as various television shows across the U.S. during her national book tour. In addition, she was featured on Diane Rehm’s National Public Radio show and did many syndicated radio guest spots across the U.S.. Click here to see Kathy’s media page.


Stacey Samela is a specialist in therapy dog work, having begun her journey with dogs by volunteering at the Rockland S.P.C.A in 1994. In an effort to get dogs adopted faster, she started teaching classes so the other volunteers and potential adopters could teach the dogs basic manners.

As dogs got adopted, they continued to come to class and brought their friends along, too.  Soon, Stacey was teaching classes and doing private lessons. At that time, the Hudson Valley Visiting Pet Program was being developed under the guidelines of the Delta Society Pet Partners Program, and Stacey began making visits with her dog to nursing homes. She went on to develop training classes specific to the skills needed for therapy dog visits and became a Delta Society Evaluator and Instructor.

Stacey has attended many workshops and training sessions with expert trainers in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy, and has been an instructor and evaluator at New York Presbyterian Hospitals and White Plains hospital. Stacey was invited to teach workshops at the first three-day Therapy Dog Camp in 2007, which was attended by teams from all over the country. She continues to visit with her own dogs, which keeps her motivated to lead others to seek out those amazing moments where you see the deep connection between your dog and the person who is interacting with them.

In addition to her therapy dog work, Stacey has trained and handled 13 dachshunds to their AKC Field Champion title, with first place ribbons at the National Field trial in 1999 and 2002.  In 2003 the first puppy of her own breeding won the coveted Absolute title at the Dachshund Club of America National Field Trial.  Absolute is the Best in Show title at Westminster of the Field Trial world. The following year Vista went on to be the first mini wire dachshund to achieve the Rally Novice Title.

Mara FloodWith over 25 years of show ring experience and a breeder/owner/Handler of Smooth Coat Collies and Russell Terriers and Chinese Cresteds, Mara has handled multiple dogs and a variety of breeds to the completion of their Championship to Nationally Ranked Top Ten Grand Champions. With a back ground in teaching/education, Mara is able to combine a variety of teaching methods for both human and canine students with a goal of always keep classes are enthusiastic and positive. Her daughter a Top Junior Handler, Mara has her thumb on the pulse of today’s AKC junior handling!


Contact us today to get started on training your dog!