What Our Clients Say

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Testimonials

“Kathy is an outstanding dog trainer, patient human instructor and an extraordinary person. Kathy Santo dog training came to our rescue when my teenage son and I adopted a beautiful but willful Alaskan Malamute puppy. We have taken puppy classes, used puppy daycare and had individual training sessions with Kathy. Kathy and her staff provided expert training in a fun and caring environment.  They cajoled, supported and enforced proper dog and human behaviors, while understanding the special circumstances that brought us to seek their help. Without exception the staff has been a joy to interact with. We are so glad to be part of their pack.”

Evan and Jared


“Get a dog” they begged.
“It will be fun” they said.
“We will look after it” they promised.
“You won’t even notice she’s there” they assured me.

16 months and 1 Australian Shepherd later we are finally beginning to understand each other. This is largely due to Kathy and her team  ( plus a little medicinal wine).

Coco is a typical Aussie. Super smart and super sassy. She needs both mental and physical stimulation and Kathy and her team have helped me understand what that means and how to give her the attention she needs.

There are so many things I love about the school but one of my favorites it the ” no judge” policy. Anything goes and everything can be fixed if you are willing to put in the work.
Whether its behavioral training, play care or an email about some weird bodily function, Kathy is ALWAYS on standby to answer questions and give sound advice.

“Get a second dog” they begged.
“It’s not fair she has no one to play with” they said…
**sigh**

Jennifer and Coco

 

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“We have been coming to Kathy Santo’s dog training classes since May of 2011, shortly after our 4 month old Rottweiler puppy arrived.   We cannot say enough about the training techniques and constant support that we receive from Kathy, Stacey and the rest of the staff.  They are always ready to assist us when we have questions or concerns.

We have attended various group classes and private lessons and we always learn something new that is extremely helpful to us.  Our dog, Gunther, has become a total joy to have around thanks to the training and creative ideas and solutions that the team provides.  We have had our share of challenges given that Gunther is a male Rottweiler, but Kathy never backs down from a challenge and is always prepared with a trick or tool to manage any situation.  She and her staff have given us complete confidence that our dog will behave and be in complete control in any situation.”

Janine and Gunther


“I enrolled my Rottweiler, Eli, in one of Kathy’s beginner classes, the same week that I adopted him.  He was 18 weeks of age.  What impressed me is that Kathy doesn’t just train dogs — she helps them become trained and well adjusted canine citizens. She also educates the owners on how to raise a responsible and well-behaved dog.

Eli also attends play care several days a week.  He learns socialization skills, and has fun playing with his friends.  Plus, he’s tired out when I pick him up after work!

Between group classes, private classes, and play care, Kathy is helping Eli realize his potential as an awesome canine citizen.  And, I’m learning a lot in the process, too!”

Our Rottweiler Miles got a really great start as a puppy in the beginners group at Kathy’s school in an obedience classes taught by Stacey.”

Sandy and Eli


I was at wits end as to how to handle severe aggressive issues with my 12 yr old Wheaton terrier.  Last Christmas, Gypsy experienced severe gastric problems and along with her health problems, came extremely aggressive behavior, particularly around food, culminating with an episode where she bit me requiring a hospital room visit & stitches.  Although her belly issues subsided & she returned to a normal personality, I was extremely anxious around her, which triggered anxiety acting out from her as well. She developed a routine whereby it became impossible to get her out of the car after a trip, snarling and growling & attempting to bite anyone who would approach her in the backseat.

 

Kathy helped me regain my confidence in being around Gypsy, as well as the tools to address this new behavior, which she was demonstrating in the car. I was astonished at how quickly we were able to curtail these performances, and we then moved onto other long-term issues, which she has had for years, including attempting to attack people when they leave the house.  This also was corrected with ridiculous speed, so much so that I remarked to family & friends that “Gypsy was beamed up by aliens & has been replaced with another dog”.  The morale of this story is that “you can teach an old dog new tricks”, especially if you have a trainer as remarkable as Kathy Santo.

Arlene


“I was at wits end as to how to handle severe aggressive issues with my 12 yr old Wheaton terrier. Last Christmas, Gypsy experienced severe gastric problems and along with her health problems, came extremely aggressive behavior, particularly around food, culminating with an episode where she bit me requiring a hospital room visit & stitches. Although her belly issues subsided & she returned to a normal personality, I was extremely anxious around her, which triggered anxiety acting out from her as well. She developed a routine whereby it became impossible to get her out of the car after a trip, snarling and growling & attempting to bite anyone who would approach her in the backseat.

Kathy helped me regain my confidence in being around Gypsy, as well as the tools to address this new behavior, which she was demonstrating in the car. I was astonished at how quickly we were able to curtail these performances, and we then moved onto other long-term issues, which she has had for years, including attempting to attack people when they leave the house. This also was corrected with ridiculous speed, so much so that I remarked to family & friends that “Gypsy was beamed up by aliens & has been replaced with another dog”. The morale of this story is that “you can teach an old dog new tricks”, especially if you have a trainer as remarkable as Kathy Santo.”

Arlene


“I refer Kathy as a Dog Behaviorist Guru and expert Dog trainer to the tenth-power. Kathy’s understanding of the differences in dogs is truly amazing and her great sense of humor makes the classes fun.

The Dog Body Language Seminars  (which Miles has occasionally starred in!) have educated me in understanding how dogs communicate and I’m more confident when encountering other dogs.”

Deb Garcia


“Addie’s story should be short. She is, after all, not even eight months old.  But her life started out, well, complicated.  Now, simply, she is a joy.

We are cat people. OK. That is on the table. However, raising children with a yard and a fence begs for a dog. We did that. Seventeen years later, the kids are grown and have left the nest. Our sweet pooch was tired and she left too.  We knocked around the house that was simply not right in spite of having our beloved kitties.  Finally, we agreed, we NEEDED a dog.

What to do? How to choose? For us, only a shelter pet was an option. I called every local shelter, even the one from whom we had adopted our dog and several cats, refused to consider us as a candidate because of the number of cats in the house.

Ouch.

We found our girl on-line. Fell in love with the puppy with the goofy expression and the liquid brown eyes that had seen too much for a puppy of her tender age. She was eight weeks old when those pictures were taken. Her problem?  She was a tiny pitbull mix in a southern state that does not have the animal rights laws of the northern states.  She was rescued by an organization that tries to get these dogs north. We took a huge chance. We never met her. We knew that her likely fate was grim and could not get her eyes out of our heads. We arranged for a puppy transport and one very early morning, met our girl in the parking lot of a hotel an hour from our home.

We were delighted to accept this little bundle. A few minutes later, we were horrified when we set her down to pee to realize she could not stand. We resolutely took her home and hoped for the best.

Addie could not walk. She could not stand. She was bow-legged and weak and had the most deformed growth plates our vet had ever seen. She had apparently been confined in a too-small crate for far too much of her short life.

We still hoped for the best. And, the best is our Addie. Her determination, her grit, her happiness at every new toy, every opportunity to strengthen her body, her sweet, sweet face! In only a few short weeks, she was on her feet, and getting better every day.  We were to realize later that her grit, her determination and her independence made her a challenge when it came to training.

When she was physically able, we took her to Kathy Santo’s Training School because we wanted her to be the best citizen she can be.  We have had a couple of incidents (too numerous to mention) when people would see our petite pit, now only 40 or so pounds, and “see” 180 lbs of muscle and teeth. Frustrating and heartbreaking.  Kathy and her staff have been there for us to listen and to help.

At about five months old, Addie developed fears. Her fears were people she doesn’t know; tall men and especially those with caps. If a person she doesn’t know has a dog, she is fine. We started her in a confidence building class and it has made a huge difference. Not only have WE learned how to make life less stressful for her, she has gained confidence and is so much better.

Addie loves getting in the car. She knows it probably means going to school. She has learned how to meet a new friend. This was so important for her because her original plan was to simply “body slam” any potential playmate without regard to size or age. She has learned so much and now has many friends.

Addie had “fixed” our house. Our morning routine is to open her crate door and watch her as she yawns, stretches, plays with her toys and eventually crawls into my lap for morning hugs and kisses. We go out in the yard and she runs around like a maniac, stretching all those muscles that never worked when she was a baby.  We go in and she goes to her “place” and has breakfast.  We do have one cat whose mission it is to make Addie’s life miserable, but for the others, they are happy to co-exist. Addie would love to play but seems to understand when they want to play or be left alone.

Her wiggly butt, her big head, her awesome brindle coat with four tiny white socks and the small white tip of her tail, and most of all, her liquid brown eyes are all of our Addie. Addie is our joy and every reason why everyone should seriously consider taking a chance on a rescue. Simply put, the rewards exceed the effort.”

Sheri and Addie


“I adopted my yellow Labrador, Bella, when she was just 10 weeks old and have been training with Kathy and Stacey ever since!  Bella is now turning three years old and she is the best dog.  She is happy, friendly, social and always present in our lives because she is well mannered and sweet.  I first started training with Kathy as I have two children, one with autism, and Kathy is quite in tune with my son’s needs.  I wanted a well-trained dog that both my kids could enjoy.

My kids love having Bella.  She gets in bed with them every night to read stories and she plays with my kids and any friends that come to play.  I never have to worry about Bella running in the yard with the children as my kids know how to give Bella commands (Kathy always welcomes kids to training sessions) and Bella is so well mannered with guests.

After obedience training, we pursued therapy dog training and Bella passed the Delta Society test last year.  We visit with students with different disabilities in a few different schools and it is such a rewarding program.  As Bella is a well-trained, yet enthusiastic Labrador, she is a perfect match for children.  She is durable, sweet and always eager to please.  The students love her and look forward to our weekly visits.  Bella can reach these students, even those who are non-verbal, in a way that is unique to animals.  She will never judge or lose her patience and the students respond and interact with her at their own pace and their own way.  The students are always rewarded with an enthusiastic tail wag and body wiggle.

Thank you Kathy and Stacey for all you do for Bella and our family.  You treat us like family, which is why dog training sessions are still a favorite family activity, even after three years!”

Sincerely,
Michelle DeGennaro


“Dogs have always been a part of my family.   In the past I have lived with two beautiful collies and one very amusing bichon.  They brought love and happiness into my life,  but they were never properly trained.  My collie ate everything (including an entire set of oil paints) and in fifteen years my bichon never came when I called him. I lived with what I considered their “quirks”, which really means they needed training.

This time I was going to do things differently!  I wanted to do dog therapy work with children.  I did my research and decided to get a Goldendoodle puppy, because they are generally known to be good with people.  So three years ago, Gracie entered my life with extreme enthusiasm!  After more research,  I knew I wanted to enroll in Kathy Santo Dog Training.  I was impressed with the program she created to teach children with autism how to train their dogs.

Unfortunately, before we enrolled in class,  Gracie was attacked by a dog that was off leash.  This was a terrifying experience as the dog was much larger and stronger.  Gracie was on leash and the dog landed on top of her, biting and scratching while she ran around in circles.   Gracie was not too seriously injured physically, but her personality changed drastically.  My  “happy go lucky” Goldendoodle became very fearful of other dogs. She began growling and lunging at almost every dog that came near her.  Since I live in a townhouse development,  we were coming in contact with other dogs daily.  I needed to get help for my very nervous little dog.

From the moment I met Kathy, I knew I had found the right dog trainer.  She was not just going to help me manage Gracie’s fear aggression; she was going to help my dog overcome her fear – big difference!

Kathy started by giving me the knowledge and strategies to alleviate my anxiety (which increased with every lunge, growl, and snap.)  Through carefully planned lessons, Dog Park classes, free Body Language seminars, and group dog hikes (which Kathy does during her own free time), Gracie has made tremendous progress.   Kathy has a broad background of knowledge and experiences.  She teaches with compassion and a great sense of humor while never overlooking a teachable moment.  What more can you ask for than fun productive classes with your happy, emotionally healthy dog! Thank you Kathy!”

Lyn and Gracie


“Chicken is a Toy Fox Terrier who we got from an experienced breeder in Pa.   He was the only pup of the litter. Unfortunately, we took the advice of our former vet and delayed training him until he had finished with his shots, at about six months old. When we started training with Kathy, he was snappy, angry, and very aggressive towards people and dogs. Many of you know this firsthand.

This behavior developed over time without any obvious trauma or bad experiences, and it was very serious.  In class, he would lunge for other dogs even if they were across the room from him.  During daycare, Kathy’s staff could not even approach his crate without a violent reaction: barking furiously and baring his teeth.

Chicken and his family have now been in training with Kathy and her team for about a year.  Over the course of that year, Kathy has taught us to be good leaders and he has, as a result, become a good dog.  We are in charge now: we know him well, watch him, and know how to manage him.  He can tolerate and even enjoy other dogs now, and he is much better with people.  It’s been really rewarding when so many of our friends from class have remarked on the positive change in Chicken.

Had we not found Kathy, I don’t think that Chicken would still be with us.  Because of her level of expertise, her program works even for the most aggressive and difficult dogs. There is hope and Chicken is truly proof of that!”

Nancy and Chicken


“I never realized how much fun it could be to have a dog until I took my puppy to Kathy Santo’s classes. I always joke with Kathy that she must have a chip implanted somewhere in her body because her knowledge of dogs is just amazing. Equally as important she is a friend to all her customers. She is always there to answer any questions about your dog or their well being. Some people say they highly recommend a service. I say you would be nuts to go somewhere else.”

Marty and Harlow


“I rescued Dillon from a high-kill shelter in Arkansas when he was about six months old.  He was a happy and affectionate puppy, but he lacked certain social skills, and had a tendency to become aggressive with other dogs. I knew this behavior had to change. I thought enrolling Dillon in Kathy Santo’s training classes would be helpful.  What an understatement!  Kathy’s classes are insightful, educational and fun, for both Dillon and me.  It is not just about teaching Dillon what to do, but about my learning how to help him keep making the positive choices that bring about good behavior.  Through Kathy’s upbeat training, dog park classes, and informative dog body language seminars, Dillon’s social skills with people and other dogs has improved tremendously and I have become a more confident handler. We both look forward to our classes.”

Cheryl and Dillon


“After 23 years of asking for a puppy for Christmas, my wish finally came true in the form of a rescued year and a half old black lab Great Dane combo named Albert.  I’d played with a lot of dogs in my life, and had read a ton of books but nothing quite prepared me for bringing home a large dog who had never had a house or much structure before.  If he wanted the squirrel he caught and ate it, if he wanted your hamburger he took it off your plate, and if he wanted to snuggle all 80 lbs. climbed on your lap with no warning.  An emergency round of basic obedience got me a dog that walked on a leash until he saw a rabbit, and not a whole lot more.  Yes he could sit, but only if there was some kibble or chicken in it for him, and I knew he was smarter than that, I knew he could do more.  I knew I could trust him with me, but I wanted to be able to trust him around guests, children, and wildlife…so I called Kathy. In my initial message, I mentioned a few of Albert’s problem areas and within 12 hours I received an enthusiastic voicemail letting me know that we could totally fix those things and she had availability for a lesson within days.

Kathy and her phenomenal staff care about their students, the ones with four legs as well as the ones with two.  Kathy Santo’s dog training teaches you how to function in the real world with your dog, no more avoiding streets, or not hosting dinner parties because of an untrained dog.  Having only been students of Kathy’s for six weeks, I already see a tremendous difference in Albert.  Kathy’s multifaceted approach helps me help my dog. My new understanding of dog behavior and confidence as an owner is a direct reflection of Kathy’s multifaceted approach. Dog park class provides invaluable lessons in interaction and socialization contained in a safe setting and play care provides my dog with safe environment to make friends and practice his social skills, and gives me great peace of mind knowing he is safe and learning. Classes teach your dog basic obedience as well as social skills.  Kathy Santo’s dog training is not just a place you take your dog for an hour each week.

photoIt’s a community of people committed to helping you and your dog achieve your goals, and develop a healthy relationship.  It’s a judgment free zone and a supportive community of dog owners, which I am truly lucky to have found.  My dog is happier thanks to Kathy Santo’s Dog Training, and so am I!”

(And later, from an email…)

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You and Stacey and the wonderful people at school should feel really proud of yourselves. You took a truly broken and reactive dog and changed both of our lives. I went from being afraid to take my dog out of my yard to being able to enjoy a wonderful relaxing and fun day at the beach with my dog. Thank you!!!”

Jennifer and Albert


“Sometimes you don’t know how very much you DON’T know about a subject until you begin to explore it. Only then do you realize it’s far more complicated than it looks. So it has been for me with training my dog. I have never owned a dog, so as we left the adoption location my mind was a complete blank; there was ZERO information to tap into! How do we get it into the car? Will it pee in there? What does it eat? Where will it sleep? And so on…there were questions, but no answers! Fortunately for me, a neighbor recommended Kathy Santo’s Dog Training, and she has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Somehow we muddled through the first few weeks of dog ownership but, in hindsight, we should have been at Kathy’s training facility the next morning. When we finally arrived in the beginner class and she answered questions, taught a lesson– humorously–and generally reassured us, it was as if a lifeline had been tossed and we finally had a treasure trove of information available just for the asking.

Overall, I think what makes the Kathy Santo method so special is that Kathy teaches the whole dog AND the owner. Her goal is not just to have an obedient dog, but to have a human/dog team that interacts happily. She has shown us how to enjoy having a dog and, believe me, when we first went to her we were not having fun yet. That dog had chewed through 1 cell phone, many socks, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 universal remote control, a set of retainers, and blankets galore. (We rescued the house phone and my glasses before they were irreversibly damaged.). I now understand that this was to be expected but, at the time, it was a mystery as to why he was bent on total destruction. As Kathy explained the behavior, and shared tips and techniques for managing it, a whole new world unfolded for us.

We cheerfully worked on learning a few basic commands until we arrived for one lesson, utterly traumatized, with a new appreciation for the absolute necessity of what Kathy was teaching us. The dog had accompanied us out in the car and had inadvertently escaped, gleefully cavorting through Main Street traffic with my hysterical son sobbing and chasing after. It was the kindness of nearby residents, dog owners, that finally caught him. Screeching tires and a few near misses brought home the lesson, “this correction hurts less than the impact of a car”. With that one incident we were re-dedicated and completely focused, because we finally realized that safety was at stake–not just the dog’s, but ours, as well.

As we trained, and tried to duplicate the lessons at home, Kathy’s philosophy made more sense. Perfection in the classroom does NOT mean you will get the same performance when there are distractions. We took our training to the park, around town and even into the car dealership while I was waiting for my car to be serviced. It was truly encouraging when I was approached with, “Wow, are you a dog trainer?” I was compelled to answer honestly, “No, but I’m learning from the best, so maybe someday…”

Quite unexpectedly, there came a day when I experienced total doggie love. We found ourselves out in a field on a glorious autumn day with another dog owner who asked, “Does your dog go off leash?” Trying not to panic I replied, “Well, that IS the goal, but we’ve never actually done it.” As they let their two dogs off leash they said, “Oh, they’ll be fine.” But they weren’t fine…they were FABULOUS! For over an hour our three dogs raced, roughhoused, tumbled and tore up that field. Only twice did I flinch, and called Ca$h, “here!” With no exaggeration, he nearly flew to me and skidded to a perfect sit directly in front of my feet. I actually heard someone say, ‘Hey, cool, THAT dog actually comes!’ I felt victorious! We were a team! I couldn’t wait to tell Kathy of our success and hear what she had planned for our next lesson.

There have been more successes, for sure, but none as sweet as that first time off leash. NOW I know why people actually enjoy spending time with their dogs…and why Kathy’s motto is ‘For a dog everyone will love to have around.’ I GET IT!”

Cindy and Ca$h


“I first met Kathy back in 2004 when I needed help training our first dog, Lady.  Kathy helped make the 8-year-old dog we adopted become a member of the family.   Unfortunately, seven years later, Lady passed away.  Once we had adopted our new dog Dexter, I again turned to Kathy and asked for help training an overly excited puppy.

My family and I have been training Dexter for over a year now.  We have watched Dexter go from a misbehaving 8-month-old dog to a member of the family, who continually surprises me with his obedience.  When we first brought Dexter home, we did not walk him, rather he pulled us.  Now walks on a leash are a much calmer affair, though the occasional squirrel still puts Dexter into chase mode.

Kathy’s goal with training is for you to have a dog that will behave consistently and in the expected manner.   I have seen Dexter respond correctly when I accidentally dropped a prescription medication and I saw Dexter staring at it.   I have also dropped carrots and have seen the same response.  Dexter will bark when the door rings, but I don’t have to worry about him dashing out the door when I open it.   I think the biggest challenge facing any dog is whether they will follow commands from a stranger.  I had an opportunity to see how well Dexter’s worked the other day at the Vet’s office.  I had put Dexter in a down and wait (aka stay) while waiting for his turn.  The veterinary technician came to take Dexter back and he wouldn’t move.  I told her to tell Dexter “Let’s Go” and I watched Dexter leave in perfect position.

Training is an ongoing process, but Kathy continues to keep both human trainer and dog involved in the process.  Working with Kathy has been fun and the results are very worthwhile.”

Joanne and Dexter


Ready to join our happy clients? Call us at 201-512-8316
or E-mail: Stef@KathySanto.com