Petra du Toit is the chief instructor and owner of the training center. Her extensive experience started in 1994 with competition obedience and traditional training methods. She completed her Advanced Dog Behaviour diploma in 2003 (Cum Laude), with the Pretoria Technicon. Moving from traditional obedience training to therapy dog training and crossing over to positive reinforcement methods, Petra has obtained her ADT (Associate Dog Trainer) Diploma with the International College for Canine Studies, under the guidance of internationally renown trainers and behaviourists such as Barbara Handelmann, Rachel Friedmann, Kathy Cascade, Sue Alexander, and others. Petra is qualified Super Pup trainer, supported by Royal Canin and her passion to teach people to train their dogs is seen in every class she offers. She has also assisted the SPCA Vanderbijlpark with temperament evaluations and re-homing evaluations of these shelter dogs. Petra has successfully achieved her international certification as CPDT-KA (Certified professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed) and is the first (and currently only) dog trainer in South Africa with this prestigious title. Petra also serves on the board of SABCAP - the South African Board for Companion Animal Professionals. Her full profile can be viewed here
Through careful selection and training, Petra has employed some very enthusiastic and able help trainers, to assist with the general classes and play groups. After undergoing strict evaluations and dog behaviour training, these help trainers apply their knowledge to their human and canine clients. Again, it is passion and love for the work they do, that differentiates them from other instructors in the area. Most of the instructors have dealt with problem behaviour in their own dogs and are more than willing and able to transfer their knowledge to their clientele. Currently, Happy Tails Dog Training Center is blessed with the assistance of very capable instructors.
Cecily Kühn started in our puppy class with her Dobermann Katya in February 2018 and became intrigued by dog training. She regularly attends our advanced training classes and has trained Katya to be a fantastic therapy dog. She also has started tracking work with Katya and takes every opportunity to work with her dog and advance her knowledge. Cecily is assisting with puppy classes and is running teenager classes on her plot in Vereeniging.
Tanja Grensing is our youngest trainer since the age of 14. She qualified as therapy dog handler at the age of 10 years, started training her Golden Retriever Molly at age 11 and, for her age, has a vast knowledge base on dog training and behaviour. Tanja loves teaching tricks and assists with agility and the play group, as well as puppy class and individual training sessions. She was the first handler of Caring Friends Therapy Dogs, to pass the KUSA Canine Good Citizen Gold test with Molly.
Philip Santilhano joined Caring Friends Therapy Dogs with his Irish Wolfhound Wallace and has since obtained Dougal, also an Irish Wolfhound puppy, with whom he attends therapy dog visits. Philip has trained these 2 dogs with Happy Tails. He is involved in the Irish Wolfhound club and shows his dogs at championship shows regularly. His involvement as trainer started in 2015, when our classes grew larger and he and Joan are primarily teaching advanced classes with focus on Canine Good Citizen certification. Philip and Dougal have passed the CGC Gold certification in December 2015
Teresa Swart assists in classes when needed and is part of the Caring Friends Therapy Dog team. She is owned by 3 Scottish Terriers (Bonnie, Bella and Bibbi) and a Staffie (Shona). When Teresa is in class, fun is guaranteed and her passion for dogs is contagious.
Jaco Delport joined the team as total "greenhorn" and attended many private and group lessons under Petra, to learn as much as possible about dog training and behaviour. He assists mainly with pre-grade classes but is also very handy to help novice owners to handle their dogs. He has obtained a vast amount of experience and is always willing to help where needed. Jaco is currently not working with his own dog but attends therapy dog visits with qualified dogs from the team. Jaco took a novice dog, Boerboel Abby, through CGC Bronze and Silver without having worked with her before - what an achievement!
Piet du Toit has just about as much knowledge as his wife, Petra, because he was in the (un)desirable position to support her with her studies and exams. Piet is mainly responsible for the pre-grade class and our clients enjoy his sense of humour and the way he teaches the exercises. But he is also the PR of the training center and welcomes new clients with a happy smile and warm attitude. Apart from being the "chief's" husband, he is also her greatest supporter and promoter
Annika du Toit is the youngest member in the family business of dog training and has worked with her Golden Retriever Kimba for many years. She is also an active member of the therapy dog team and has taken Kimba through CGC Bronze, Silver and Gold. Although she is a fantastic dog handler and has a vast amount of knowledge about training and behaviour, she is still a bit shy to run classes on her own. However, someone has to fill the water bowls and be responsible for the equipment in class, and she is doing a brilliant job