“I have referred hundreds of my clients and their dogs to Courteous Canine for puppy classes and behavior consultations. I trust Angelica’s experience and judgment on complicated behavior cases and I know all the trainers at Courteous Canine employ only positive reinforcement training methods and are enthusiastic educators.” –Dr. Shelly Harper, Owner Hyde Park Veterinary Clinic
Angelica Steinker, President and Founder
Pets: Two Border Collies named Power and Particle and one Papillion named Moment
For more than 20 years full time, Angelica Steinker, Owner of Courteous Canine, Inc., has specialized in dog training methods that create, “Results the Fun Way.” Using Consent Testing and Empowerment Training Angelica and her team of 16 trainers have successfully trained thousands of puppies and adult dogs in basic manners/obedience, trick training, problem behavior modification, agility, dock jumping and other skills, all while increasing the bond of trust between dogs and their human companions.
Angelica is a published author in the field of dog training and agility. Her books, Agility Success: Training and Competing with Your Dog in the Winning Zone and Click and Play Agility, address the handler of the agility team and the use of clicker training techniques in the sport respectively, and emphasize the importance of playing and bonding in order to train agility behaviors to the highest level. She co-authored the Pet Trainers and Consultants Lexicon with Niki Tudge, and Louise Stapleton-Frappell. Her newest writing project is on play and dog aggression, which is something she is particularly passionate about.
She’s a former member of the steering committee of the Pet Professionals Guild and a founding member of this cutting edge association for force-free trainers and animal professionals. She is the co-founder and former faculty of DogNostics Career College a pet care, dog training and dog behavior trade school (www.DognosticsCareerCollege.com). Angelica has been published in the Journal of Applied Companion Animal Behavior and the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, both of which are peer-reviewed professional journals. She has been published as a regular columnist in BARKS from the Guild, the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) Chronicle of the Dog Newsletter, Dog & Handler, Animal Trainer Magazine, Dog Sport Magazine, Dalmatian Quarterly, and Clean Run, the dog agility magazine.
She is a former Advisory Board member and faculty at the Companion Animal Sciences Institute and is also a CASI dog behavior program graduate. Angelica is also accredited as a Canine Behavior Consultant through the Pet Professional Accreditation Board, and certified through Applied Animal Behavior Professionals and International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the only one in the state of Florida with 20 years full time experience. Angelica is a sought-after public speaker who has presented at conferences Internationally including in Great Britain, Portugal and Brazil. She has also presented at the famous Camp Gone to the Dogs in Vermont, the U.S. Pet Professional Guild’s Summit, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Annual Conference, BARK Agility Camp, and Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expo. Angelica is a former AKC agility judge and a current North American Diving Dogs judge. Angelica has a Master’s degree in Education, which has served as the foundation for her continued certifications in dog behavior and her extensive understanding of emotional learning, operant and classical conditioning, the science of how animals and people learn.
Alex Reinhart, Director of Training
Certified Behavior Consultant Canine – Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA)
Professional Canine Trainer – Accredited (PCT – A)
- AKC Canine Good Citizen and STAR Puppy Evaluator
- Certified Service Dog Coach (SDC)
- CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Mentor Trainer
- Certified Pet Care Technician
A graduate of the University of South Florida, Alex holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Psychology and Anthropology and remains an active member of The National Honor Society of Psychology as well as The National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Alex is proud to be a Professional Canine Trainer accredited through The Pet Professional Guild as well as a Certified Behavior Consultant Canine – Knowledge Assessed through The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. She currently operates as the Director of Training at Courteous Canine Inc. one of the largest positive reinforcement-based dog training schools in the Tampa Bay area.
Alex got her start in the animal training field first as an exotic animal trainer and handler while working at Busch Gardens as well as Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park as an Animal Ambassador Trainer. It was here that she was first exposed to the power of positive reinforcement training and how to apply these methods with a variety of species both domestic and exotic before choosing to focus on helping pet parents and their furry family members.
A published author she is a regular columnist for the animal training-based publication BARKS from the Guild and has written pieces detailing her work with both domestic and exotic animals.
Alex believes that as a professional trainer we never really stop learning and education and access to information are some of the most important tools that we have to grow as professionals in the dog training field. A guest lecturer at Eckerd College in Florida during their Enrichment and Animal Welfare course Alex believes in spreading information about humane training methods for all species. Regularly attending educational conferences and workshops Alex has completed Precision Behavior’s Advanced Animal Training Workshop sponsored by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium among others and is currently pursuing additional training accreditations.
In addition to her professional credentials Alex also has a passion for animal rehabilitation and rescue, working closely with organizations like Animalluvr’s Dream Rescue where she adopted two of her three dogs and still frequently provides her services in rescue dog evaluations and training prior to adoption. She has also completed internships through companies like that of Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. where she spent three months working with the staff within the Genetics and Reproduction Department and participated in guide dog behavioral evaluations, early puppy education programs and the cryopreservation and breeding of the next generation of guide dogs.
Alex looks forward to continuing to grow with the help of her dogs Leo, Dante and Trace as well as the wonderful staff and clients at Courteous Canine Inc.
Heather Gibbs, Business Manager
- Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge-Assessed (CPDT-KA)
- Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer and Mentor Trainer (ABCDT)
- International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Shelter Behavior Affiliate (IAABC-SBA)
- American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Programs Evaluator (AKC CGC)
- Florida State Animal Response Coalition (FL SARC): Small Animal Emergency Shelter Certified
- Rescues 2 the Rescue Evaluator
- Fear Free Shelters Certified
Heather’s passion for animal training began as a volunteer guide dog puppy raiser, where she fostered and socialized puppies preparing for service work in guiding the visually impaired. Heather has since worked in animal behavior, training, and care for several organizations including the Animal Rescue Foundation of Texas, Southeastern Guide Dogs, and Humane Society of Pinellas. Heather holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology through the University of South Florida. She is currently the Business Manager and a Behavior Consultant for Courteous Canine, Inc., where she works to improve the lives of pets and their people through positive training and enrichment.
She has a passion for working with aggression, reactivity, and fear in dogs. Heather has had the opportunity to speak across the Tampa Bay region, St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, and for the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Care Expo on the behavior, training, and enrichment of animals in shelters. She has also had the privilege to author articles for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) on the topics of behavior, training, and fostering in animal shelters. She strives to always continue her education and maintain best practices in scientifically supported, positive training methods.
When not working, you can find Heather spending time with her four dogs, Mitch, Eli, Eva, and Tori, and her horse, Mike!
Certified Pet Care Technician Level 2
Dariann Ludwig was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She is a college student at USF studying pre med with the goals to apply to Veterinary school in a couple of years. She has a strong passion for animals and will do anything to keep them safe and healthy. Dariann parents two Labrador retrievers of who she says, “they are my world, I love them.” She is an intern at Skyway Animal Hospital, where she shadows the veterinarian, and watches surgery. In addition she also volunteers at Dade City’s Wild Things. Dariann supports the ASPCA and she is certified pet care technician from the DogNostics Career College.
Melissa moved to Florida from New York. As a long time dog owner she soon realized that dogs are her passion and as a result spent five years working at a no kill shelter. This enabled her to find homes for many dogs and cats which was a highly rewarding experience. Melissa has also worked technical support for Verizon which she eventually left to pursue a career in dog grooming. After 4 years of grooming, she became very interested in training and behavior. She began to enroll her own dog, Ziggy, in a variety of classes including AKC Canine Good Citizen. She discovered a passion for dog training and enrolled in DogNostics Career College’s Dog Behavior Consultant program. Melissa enjoys learning about dog behavior and working with dogs. She finds it fascinating to watch dogs playing and to observe non-verbal communication. In her free time Melissa teaches her own dogs new tricks and spends time hanging out with them and family. She and her husband parent 5 dogs, 4 cats, a Russian tortoise and a crested gecko. Melissa is a member of Pet Professional Guild she is currently working as a Canine Camp Counselor and does extensive Operational duties for Courteous Canine, Inc..
Julie is a graduate of the University of South Florida and Franciscan University of Steubenville. While living in Steubenville, Ohio she decided to pursue her life long passion of working with dogs. Moving down to Tallahassee, Julie began her work as a Dog Trainer with The Puppy Ladies and is now certified by the Council of Professional Dog Trainers. After obtaining her certification she moved to Tampa to be closer to family and friends and, joys of joys, stumbled upon Courteous Canine!
She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and is a volunteer puppy escort for Valor Service Dogs, an organization whose mission is to help post-9/11 through the training and placing of mobility assistance and PTSD service dogs. Her dream is
to eventually expand to assistance and
service dog training. She’s also volunteered with C.A.R.E. Ruskin Animal Shelter socializing puppies and dogs to prepare them for adoption.
When not working with pups of all shapes and sizes, you can find Julie dancing away at Zumba class and interacting with her two hilarious guinea pigs, Cocoa and Pumpkin.
Beth was a staff hospital nurse for 40 years and enjoyed working in Hospice’s Home Care Division for a brief time. She took 8 years off from nursing to own and operate a successful bakery business with her husband. Beth and her husband share their home with a cat and 2 Beagles, Murphy and Sadie. Murphy and Sadie have been in puppy kindergarten, fun scent games, and agility classes at Courteous Canine, Inc. over the last 2 1/2 years. Murphy earned his Canine Good Citizen certification as well. Beth and Sadie have done private behavior counseling with Angelica due to anxiety issues. She learned skills to successfully manage Sadie’s anxiety using the positive methods. Beth studied at DogNostics Career College and is now a CPCT, level 2 and pet first aid certified. She also teaches classes at Courteous Canine and says that she loves the fun atmosphere and positive, force-free training methods used by all their instructors. Beth is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and has even had a couple of her articles published in their “BARKs” magazine!
Advanced Pet Care Technician Level 2
Originally from Italy, Laura grew up with many animals, such as dogs, cats, ducks, rabbits, chickens and even had a goat. As a child, she would often find abandoned animals on her way home from school and take them home with her to give them loving care. You could say she is an animal lover at heart and keeps a warm place for rescue animals. Her passion for animals led her to adopting a dog (daughter) named Roxy. Roxy is a Coonhound mix who loves to play and learn new tricks. Laura has an interest for animal behavior; especially dog aggression, which she will pursue in the future. Laura is a Certified Pet Care Technician (Level 2) from the DogNostics Career College and is also CPR and first-aid certified through Pet Tech. Laura is also a member of the Pet Professional Guild.
Advanced Pet Care Technician Level 2, NADD Dock Diving Judge
Scott Poteri is our Dock Diving instructor here at Courteous Canine. He has always had an animal of some kind as a pet in his life. He has worked in animal rescue has volunteered, fostered, and placed dogs with United Yorkie Rescue. One of his Golden Retrievers” Wish” Has earned her AKC Canine Good Citizen certification and is a registered pet therapy team with Project Pup, and do weekly pet therapy sessions with the patients at Suncoast Hospice. He is also a Senior Judge with North American Diving Dogs which requires intensive training and the completion of judging thousands jumps, as a result he is also a field rep for the southeast area of the US and member of the Rules Committee for NADD. Besides teaching at Courteous Canine, he also judges at most of the mobile dock events and 3 other Diving Dog facilities in Florida and Georgia. Scott has an intense passion for all dog sports, but his main passion is competitive Dock Diving, with his Golden Retrievers, Wish and Doobie.
Alicia graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, minoring in Zoology. She focused her education on animal behavior and participated in conducting ongoing research on canine cognition. She has spent 8 years working in animal shelters/rescues helping cats, dogs and small mammals find and stay in their forever homes as well as counsel people about their pet’s behavior issues to help keep them in their home and out of the shelter. She has a passion for animal behavior for all animals (including humans!) but particularly loves working with cats. She has expertise in working with all sorts of cat behavior topics including litter box issues, cat introductions, cat-human aggression and clicker training cats – yes, you CAN train cats! In addition to training dogs and cats, Alicia teaches high school Marine Science and Anatomy & Physiology.
Pet First Aid Certified, Canine Communications Certified
Melissa Stamm parents three cats and a Doberman Pinscher and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Deaf Studies from USF. Melissa has a special interest in animal cognition, animal emotions, and assistance/service dog training. She is committed to continuing her education by attending seminars and plans on pursuing her PhD in Animal Behavior.
Melissa’s Dobie has some anxiety issues so she is familiar with helping dogs work through fear and she plans on pursuing her certification in dog behavior consulting to help more dogs overcome issues.
Currently Melissa is teaching Puppy and Basic Manners and is particularly passionate about teaching durations behaviors such as stay. Melissa is the Assistant Manager of On Campus Activities and oversees all of Day Care and Boarding Staff in addition to monitoring all activities for safety. She is instrumental in keeping all of us on track with providing ideal services.
In addition to managing and training, Melissa is also available for some pet sitting services and other more exclusive services such as Latch Key Pet Sitting which combines pet sitting with training.
Donald was born and raised in California. In June 2018, he and his wife moved to Tampa from Switzerland after living there for almost 40 years. He worked as a Biologist. He also took an extracurricular class, Animal Psychology at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. He had 2 dogs, Bonbon and Brooklyn, that both could understand sign language. Often, he brought Bonbon to some classes at university. Donald, also had a deaf cat “Flocon” who made his own few signs or gestures to help Donald understand what he wants or needs. During his life, he has had 5 dogs, 3 cats and many small animals.
Credentials: AKC CGC Approved Evaluator
A graduate of The University of Florida with a Bachelor of Animal Science, Kimberly has a passion for all things dogs and cats – especially relating to behavior and training. Wanting to work with animals from a young age she embraced every opportunity that she could to learn about them. Kim is proud to call herself a Courteous Canine Trainer and her furry clients bring her happiness every day!
She currently teaches Basic Manners, Puppy Kindergarten, Canine Good Citizen/ Pet Therapy, and Advanced Canine Good Citizen/ Advanced Pet Therapy; in addition to doing private training sessions, latchkey sessions, and board/daycare and trains! She also happily pet-sits any dogs and cats nearby.
Kim sometimes helps out with daycare and boarding too and will always remember the Thursday and Friday pups that she used to care for each week when she did daycare – they taught her a lot about the group dynamics of dogs and how to redirect them and properly read their behavior. She has attended a Scent Instructor Workshop by Rob Hewing and is working on her UKCSD Scent Instructor Accreditation. She has also attended Fine Tuning Your Training Skills workshop and is studying behavior modification & further training techniques under Angelica Steinker.
Credentials: Certified Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, Certified FL-SARC Animal First Responder, Pet First Aid Certified.
Christy has been working as a Professional Figure Skater traveling the world for 12 years. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, she decided to settle down in Florida when she accepted a figure skating contract at Busch Gardens. During this time, she began studying animal behavior in her spare time and hasn’t stopped learning since.
Her passion for animals has existed since the day she was born. She believes she was put on this Earth to help animals; specifically, teaching dogs and their families how to build a strong bond through training.
She went on to start working in a dog shelter where she found a profound love for rescue. Christy got hands-on experience rehabilitating, training, and fostering a wide variety of breeds, as well as those exhibiting fear, aggression, anxiety, and reactivity. Christy is an active volunteer for multiple different rescues such as Husky Haven of Florida where she assists in fostering, transport, and performing behavior assessments on dogs entering the rescues.
Christy is proud to share her life with her 4 rescue dogs Keela (Flat-Coated Retriever), Lumen (Siberian Husky), Teegan (Husky/Malamute mix), her first “foster fail” Zayn (Siberian Husky mix), and their roommate Shelby (Beagle mix).
Currently pursuing a Behavioral Consultant Certification, she regularly attends dog training seminars, workshops, and looks forward to growing with Courteous Canine!
Credentials: Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers
My name is Yesmin Feliciano and I am an experienced positive-reinforcement based animal trainer, and I have enjoyed training and caring for animals professionally for over 11 years. My career began at The Puerto Rico Zoo in 2009, where I had the opportunity to work with amazing animals such as tigers, lions, giraffes, sea lions and chimps. From there, I took on an internship working with the elephants at Zoo Tampa. I was then employed by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in 2006, where I have had the privilege of working with many amazing animals such as cheetahs and primates. I am currently working in the bird and reptile team at Busch Gardens in addition to my work with Courteous Canine.
My background in Dog Training consists of over 4 years teaching private, group classes and caring for dogs in different petcare facilities. My favorite thing about dog training is that I get to help pet parents and their dogs learn to communicate more effectively and build a stronger bond together. There is truly nothing greater than seeing a dog and their owner build a happy and healthy relationship with each other. I am very passionate about my career in animal care and training, and I look forward to furthering my knowledge and experience as I begin a new journey with Courteous Canine.
- Certified Canine Conditioning Specialist
- Certified Dock Diving Judge – North America Diving Dogs
- TC3 trained (Tactical Canine Casualty Care) – Veterinary Tactical Group
- AKC Star Puppy and Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
Joe is a professional applications engineer by trade, but he’s the happy dog-father of three great Labrador Retrievers affectionately named “Team Ripped K9”. With many years of dog training experience under his belt, he decided to embark on a study of canine conditioning and he now works exclusively in that realm. Joe found that there are many exceptional obedience trainers, a plethora of sport-specific trainers, and a vast number of quality working dog trainers… but there are few trainers that specialize in physical conditioning, and studies show that a dog in top physical condition is less likely to suffer injuries than a weekend warrior. No matter if your dog is a working dog, excels in dog sports, or a couch potato, your dog can benefit from a custom designed training program.
On the fun side, Joe is a swimming, dock diving, and lure coursing instructor here at Courteous Canine, and he’s a certified judge with the North America Diving Dogs (NADD) organization. He’s also an instructor holding a 5th Degree “Master” rank in the martial art of Tang Soo Do, a private pilot, and an avid hiker and scuba diver… oh, and let’s not forget the father of two great human kids!
Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
Jenna was born and raised in Brandon, Florida. She has always been obsessed with dogs and dog behavior, first falling in love with Disney dogs and then with her very first dog, Sadie. Her current obsession is her 5-year-old Cavapoo, Ridley!
Jenna’s career began with her first job as a doggie daycare kennel attendant. She has since worked as a Lead Technician, a Director of Training and Enrichment Services, and a Professional Dog Trainer. These positions have allowed her to gain experience in private training sessions, canine body language and play group management, staff coaching, basic dog grooming, as well as with cases involving fear-based aggression. Jenna is very passionate about her work and she strives to inspire people with how incredibly FUN dog training can be! She loves all aspects of dog training, and especially enjoys the “a-ha!” moments and the reward of a successful session.
In addition to dog training, Jenna loves playing video games, drawing, watching fantasy films, and she loves Dungeons and Dragons! She is currently enrolled at HCC and working to obtain her AS in Digital Media and Multimedia Technology. She dreams of combining her passions one day to create a fantasy video game all about dogs!
- Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge-Assessed (CPDT-KA)
- American Kennel Club Evaluator (Canine Good Citizen, Tricks and STAR Puppy)
Dawn Thomason has been training dogs for over 20 years. After earning a B.A. at Butler University in Indianapolis, Dawn was gifted a 4 month old puppy. This fearful and precious puppy ignited her already recognized passion into a journey of becoming a professional dog trainer. After about a year of working with her puppy who was much more interested in learning tricks than other more basic training, Dawn decided to show off the puppy’s new skills at a Pet Expo. That very day, Dawn was offered a job as a dog trainer!
Since childhood Dawn has trained all of her pets -turtles, rabbits, mice, hamsters & a variety of pet birds. In her teens she worked with birds of prey at a wildlife rehabilitation center outside of Chicago. However it is dogs that truly fascinate and inspire Dawn to dive deeper into the intricacies of behavior and relationship between canine and human. Over the years Dawn has developed and refined her skills by working with pet therapy groups and assistance dogs. Dawn and her Shetland Sheep dogs have competed successfully in agility, AKC obedience, rally obedience, Sheep/duck herding, scentwork, and barn hunting.
Dawn loves to spend time with her Miniature American Shepard named Hero who joyfully competes in agility. When working with clients, Dawn enjoys most seeing both human and canine learn and develop a partnership, working together and having fun!
- American Kennel Club Evaluator (Canine Good Citizen, Tricks and STAR Puppy)
- Pet First Aid Certified, DogNostics Career Center
From day one, animals of all shapes and sizes have held a special place in Brooke’s heart. Her love for these amazing creatures has shown itself in nearly every aspect of her daily life. Despite devoting the last decade of her career to teaching and raising her family, Brooke continuously used her spare time to take every available opportunity to connect with, and care for, animals. At any available hour, Brooke offered her time to services such as Wags and Rover – many times opening her own home to boarding opportunities. Brooke also wanted to share her love with those animals that didn’t have a place to call home and volunteered at various humane societies throughout the country, including special adoption events.
However, Brooke’s desire to connect with animals extended beyond household pets. She spent her summers volunteering at the Tanganika Wildlife Park in Goddard, Kansas, which was an experience she will never forget. After completing an exhaustive series of educational and clinical courses, Brooke was able to combine her love of animals with her strengths in teaching by assisting the zoo staff in presenting the Wildlife Encounter series for the park’s visitors.
As her own son prepares to leave the nest, Brooke is now presented with the amazing opportunity to turn her passion into a career. Before joining Courteous Canine, she took advantage of a myriad of opportunities to work with her local pet care facilities and is concurrently building her professional certification portfolio to include: Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, as well as Certified Dog Trainer (ABCDT) through the Animal Behavioral College. Brooke is dedicated and driven to learn all that she can alongside her teammates because she truly feels that in every dog there exists a companion – it simply requires confidence and compassion to see it.