Samantha Garza – Owner & Head Trainer
From a very early age, I have always loved animals. Animal Planet was my favorite channel to watch, my library history was mostly books about animals or dogs and cats, I even drafted up a business plan to start a doggy daycare in my backyard when I was 10 years old, with homemade flyers and business cards, the whole works!
My family has owned dogs before, but they were too busy with their law enforcement jobs to care for one while I was growing up… Until the year my dad was deployed to Afghanistan, when my mom brought home a West Highland White Terrier puppy. I named him Jack (School of Rock had just come out and Jack Black was my favorite at the time), and I immediately got to work training and working with him. Mind you, I was only 9 years old at the time. Jack was my best friend all through middle school, junior high, and high school, and even into my 20’s as I finished school and moved to the big city of Seattle. While living in Seattle, I worked various jobs from the manager of the gift shop at the zoo too running a busy bar in bustlin’ Fremont. I even spent some time as a dog wrangler at one of Seattle’s most popular doggy daycares.
I didn’t get an itch for canine behavior and training until I was much older. When the pandemic hit, I lost my job as a bartender and did some massive soul searching on what made me happiest, especially during such a stressful time. There was one thing that had been missing from my life that I had dreamt about for the longest time. Something I had a lot of passion for but at the time didn’t know much about owning one.
I didn’t have one at the time… So instead, I started walking other people’s dogs on Rover after the world shut down. After my first few walks, I noticed a lot of these dogs just pulled me around. My shoulders and back hurt after just a few walks with these pups! So I hit the books and started researching how I could help teach these dogs to walk a little more nicely on leash, mostly for my own sake. That’s when I fell down the rabbit hole. I started following more dog trainers on Instagram and Youtube, I discovered some of my favorite trainers who inspire the work I do today, such as Tom Davis (Upstate Canine Academy in New York), Michael Ellis, Almost Heaven K9 in West V, and TEAM K9 Training in North Carolina. I started diving deep into podcasts and educational seminars provided online by Leerburg. I spent a LOT of time during the initial COVID shutdown just reading and studying videos from all the trainers I could find that were willing to show their work.
From there, I enrolled in Animal Behavior College’s Certified Dog Trainer’s course in 2020 and spent close to 9 months studying online and learning about dog behavior, then spent another 4 months shadowing a positive reinforcement trainer in the Seattle area. While in the ABC program, I spent a majority of 2021 working with and shadowing local trainers in the area who specialize in rehabilitating reactive and aggressive dogs. This is where my passion for behavioral modification began.
I graduated in 2021 with honors, and has been working full-time as an in-home trainer since then. Since finishing the ABC program, I have attended multiple seminars and workshops, and continue to further my education as a dog trainer to enhance the quality of training for future dogs who need help. My goal as a trainer is to help people understand their dogs better and help keep them from being re-homed or worse, euthanized.
Nearing the end of 2021, I started working as a kennel technician with a local training company that specialized in behavioral modification & rehabilitation for reactive and aggressive dogs. There I learned defensive handling techniques, safety protocols, and how to work with dogs who have bitten once before.
You can find me online in the links below or just send me a message to say hi.