Our Elite Trainers

It is important you know who you are working with your dog.

Sami Jo, Head Trainer

Sami Jo Menning always loved animals, but never imagined how far dogs would take her into her career. She was always finding herself in the field with her father and his trained Labradors every fall following in his footsteps. From there she found working with dogs was very rewarding.

After graduating, she went to attend Starmark Academy and earned her accredited certificate as a Canine Training and Behavior Specialist. Since then, she has used her communication skills to help dog owners learn to love living with their dogs! "Dog training can be a very personable job. Your clients let you into their homes, routines, struggles and into their lives. And sometimes the changes that training requires can be hard," she says. "I love to be the support and encouragement while those changes take place, and I love to see the results in the home that comes with training!"

Sami Jo has 4 dogs: Blu, a 6 year old German Shepherd; Tex, a 3 year old Black Lab; Lola a 3 year old corgi with so much personality AND a 2 year old Dalmatian named Ray, who makes sure to pull in everyone's attention. Blu is her everything dog who enjoys any sport she puts her mind to, but he also loves to work as a working Search and Rescue dog, certified Therapy Dog, trick dog and dock diving competitor. Tex is her retrieving fool who has earned his Hunting Retriever Champion in the UKC hunt tests, has titled in dock diving and dabbled in rally. Lola loves to steal the show at any dock diving event while also practicing in barn hunt. While Ray is working towards his Championship in the conformation ring and enjoys dock diving, barn hunt and learning tricks! One of Sami Jo's passions is dogs with jobs and dogs who are active, healthy members of the family.


Addison, Assistant Training Manager

Addison was born and raised in Parkston, South Dakota. She graduated Starmark Academy in Hutto, Texas receiving her certification as a Canine Behaviorist and Trainer. She currently has a German Shorthaired Pointer named Coors who is very outgoing, attentive, and loves to learn new things. While in Texas, Addison also adopted a pitbull/boxer mix who is loving dock diving and being an incredible demo dog. Addison says "One of my favorite things about training dogs is seeing that 'light bulb' above their head that goes off when figuring something out and I am excited to train and work with them!" We are very blessed to have Addison a part of the team!

Madison, Dock Diving Assistant

Madison has been with Paws since the beginning of dock diving started. Madison helps run all of our dock diving classes, swimming lessons and dock diving advanced jumps. You may see her standing pool side encouraging all the dogs as they learn the sport of dock diving and swimming. She loves to see them progress through and gain confidence in the water. You may see her around competing herself with her personal dogs Diesel and Bailey in Dock Dogs as well as spending time training Diesel. Madison is a wonderful asset to the team of Paws and our dock diving growth!

Taryn, Puppy University Trainer

Taryn had a big passion for animals growing up. Being surrounded by dogs her whole life helped guide her way into dog training. Her first job was working at a dog daycare and boarding facility. While working she received hands on exposure to dog body language and behavior. From there her passion grew and she completed her online Animal Behavior College for Canine Obedience. She made her way to a Senior Dog Trainer at her last job and continued to get exposure to puppy socialization, solving problem behaviors, clicker training, leash walking and teaching group classes. At Paws Pet Resort you will see her being a lead trainer in our Puppy University program where she is getting puppies started off on the right track to socializing and learning. She is also a dog owner to Frost, her Australian Shepherd and Kira her German Shepherd. She loves to spend time training and working them.

Sydnie, Puppy University Trainer

Sydnie is one of our fabulous Puppy University trainers. She has been working at Paws for 3 years and has transitioned into Puppy University! She loves to teach the puppies, take amazing photos of them learning and communicate with their owners. She owns a Golden Retriever - Bumper who loves to learn and a German Shorthair Pointer - Winston! When she is not at Paws she loves to be outdoors with her dogs and is attending USF majoring in Elementary Education. We are so thankful for what Sydnie does for this program.

REVIEWS & TESTIMONIALS

"Betsy is my 3 1/2 year old Pitsky. She’s always been terrible to walk on a leash. She would pull, lunge, bark, and run around in circles when any sort of distraction came along and it was nearly impossible to redirect her once she got going. She is strong and her pulling and lunging would leave me with sore and sometimes strained muscles— it was scary and anxiety-inducing even thinking about walking her. It got to the point where we were only walking around the outside of the house or up and down the sidewalk where I knew it’d be safe and distraction-free. I decided that I really needed help and signed her up for day training with Sami where she would work with her one-on-one during the day. I was absolutely amazed with the results! She walks right beside me and no longer pulls, lunges, or runs in circles! Betsy and I now go for several mile walks almost daily in new areas. I feel so much more confident in my ability to handle her while walking- I welcome distractions now! Betsy’s behavior all around has been improved now that she can go on longer, more stimulating walks. We are BOTH much happier now." ~Cristina Matos

"Working with Sami Jo has been a very rewarding and great experience. We got our Labrador puppy, Birdie, in March of 2019 at 8 weeks old and have been taking classes with Sami Jo and even private lessons. Birdie has changed so much since then and has made leaps and bounds with her listening skills and behavior all thanks to Sami Jo’s direction and exceptional ability to handle dogs. Thank you so much Sami Jo! We couldn’t have made it this far without you!" ~ Elizabeth Willers

"...And that’s how Downtown Henry came into our lives. Before coming to Paws Pet Resort, we took a basic obedience class from a chain pet store. That was a good introduction to very basic commands, but I wanted to continue learning and building a bond with Henry.

There are two key aspects of the training at Paws that I think are most beneficial. 1) They don’t train the dog, they train the humans and give them all the tools they need to achieve the desired results with their dog. 2) The instruction is based on positive reinforcement, which builds confidence for both canine and human.

Henry has been enrolled in Sami Jo’s classes, but Taryn has assisted in several of them and even filled in as instructor. Their teaching styles are complementary and I think it’s beneficial to be exposed to both instructors as you will get different suggestions of things to try.

While there was little doubt Henry would grasp the concepts in class, I was a bit of a mess in the early days – super nervous, freaking out over the little things and intimidated by classmates who seemed to have no trouble perfecting every skill. I got over myself because I could plainly see that Sami’s instructions work. Henry’s sits came quicker, his down stays lasted longer, he walked next to me more and more and didn’t pull on the leash as much.

Success in training classes takes work and practice outside the classroom. It’s not work like you do at your day job, though. It’s fun! And it pays off in ways that you can never imagine when you start.

From basic obedience to dock diving lessons and learning to be a Canine Good Citizen, Henry has demonstrated his two best traits – pleasing his humans and learning. With each lesson, our bond has become stronger. He is a gentleman walking around downtown on a busy Friday night. He goes to dog-friendly stores and is getting better and better about not shoplifting treats!

This testimonial is likely longer than desired, but there is probably nothing that attests to how great Paws is than sharing how Henry starts to whimper at 69th and Cliff in sheer excitement because he knows where we are headed. He bounds out of the car and has to muster every bit of restraint he gained studying to be a Canine Good Citizen so he doesn’t leap into Jeanine or Sami Jo’s arms when he enters the building!" ~Susan Hoffmann