I’m proud to hold an Honor’s Certificate in Training & Counseling from the world-renown SF/SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, and a post-Academy honors Certificate in Curriculum Development & Design. I’m a dedicated professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and am Pet First Aid and CPR certified. I’m probably best known locally for co-founding San Francisco’s first puppy-only daycare and training center. An innovative program based on the preventative power of early socialization, SF Puppy Prep was one of the first of it’s kind anywhere. Prior to SFPP, I taught dog training classes at various locations, including the SF/SPCA, and also worked a stint in a pet hospital. Having worked before, during, and after Puppy Prep with hundreds of families and their dogs to prevent and resolve all manner of behavior issues, I now focus my attention on working with families to help two- and four-legged children grow up harmoniously together.
San Francisco Dog Trainer Philosophy
I want you to experience relief. I want to help you enjoy positive changes in your dog’s behavior. I want to give you a recess from stress, worry, guilt. So I use only scientifically-sound, humane, positive training methods. Training should be fun as well as effective—so you can enjoy not only the positive changes, but the process of getting there, too.
Why I do what I do
I love dogs and I love kids. I also respect my busy fellow moms. We juggle a lot—kids and dogs and careers and households and—when we’re lucky—a little time for ourselves. After having my first baby I realized just how challenging all that is. I was surprised to find how few resources there were for helping expecting moms prepare the four-legged kids for the two-legged ones, and for helping dogs adjust to the baby—and toddlers and kids and dogs get along safely. I’m not sure what I’d have done if I wasn’t already a dog trainer myself. It occurred to me along the way that I had the skills and empathy to share what I’d learned with others to make their paths a little easier. Having focused my training work up to that point on puppy raising and behavioral issues, I decided to retool my business to support busy families looking for a little help integrating kids and dogs together safely and happily.
Parenting experience, aka New Mom Confessions
I promised you some New Mom Confessions. Here’s the biggie: I lost both my beloved senior dogs to old age while pregnant with my first baby. I should have taken advantage. If I’d been my own training client I would have counseled myself to stay dogless until I’d gotten through the birth and settled into motherhood. But I couldn’t bear the thought of raising my human baby without the pitter-patter of dog paws beside me or the feel of a soft dog ear while nursing. I was so looking forward to sharing my maternity leave with a canine companion at my feet. So I adopted a rescue puppy when I was 8 months pregnant. Yep, I was about to pop. And I figured I’m a puppy expert, right? This will be a no-brainer. I spent the last month of my pregnancy prepping the house for puppy and baby, creating a perfect puppy confinement area, crate training, teaching placement cues and alone time. And thus with boxes of bully sticks ordered and a freezer full of frozen Kongs to keep puppy occupied, I gave birth to a perfect little baby boy named Dylan. And then I found out, in short order, that raising a puppy when pregnant was one crazy thing—trying to raise one while caring for a new infant was quite another. Being a proud dog trainer, it took me a while to cry uncle and ask for help. Having ignored everyone who warned me I was making a mistake, it was hard to admit how exhausted and overwhelmed I was. Over time, as we got through infancy and toddlerhood and started to emerge back into the land of the fully-slept, it occurred to me I might bring my personal and professional experience together to support my fellow moms. And thus, Recess With Steph.
Epilogue: I’m happy to share that everything turned out beautifully in the end. It was all worth it, as nothing could be more rewarding than watching my two- and four-legged kids play together. They have a bond that will last a lifetime and I have the joy of working with fellow moms to help make others’ paths a little easier than my own
Our Dog Walkers
All of our dog walkers are proudly dog*tec Certified Dog Walkers, having successfully completed the most widely respected course available to professional dog walkers. They’ve studied canine body language, learning theory and behavior, basic training, canine first aid, fight prevention and response protocols, emergency planning, group composition and management, and much more.
Think of our dog walkers as highly educated pre-school teachers, overseeing safe and fun play on a lush, private, enclosed playground.