Our Elite Trainers

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

Sami Jo, Head Canine Specialist and Behaviorist

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 5 dogs: Blu, a 9 year old German Shepherd; Tex, a 6 year old Black Lab; Lola a 6 year old corgi with so much personality, a 4 year old Dalmatian named Ray AND a new 8 month old Black Lab, Zyn. Blu is her everything dog who enjoys any sport she puts her mind to, she has accomplished a lot in her 9 years. Tex is her retrieving fool who has earned his Hunting Retriever Champion in the UKC hunt tests, has titled in dock diving, the AKC obedience ring along with Rally. Lola loves to steal the show at any dock diving event while also competing in barn hunt and frisbee. While Ray recently earned his Championship in the conformation ring and enjoys dock diving, barn hunt, obedience and his favorites - Nosework and Frisbee! One of Sami Jo's passions is dogs with jobs or in a sport 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!

Taryn, Puppy University Lead

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.

Sophie, Puppy University Assistant

Sophie is our assistant trainer for Puppy University! She was born and raised in Sioux Falls and is currently completing a degree in Veterinary Technology. She has two Golden Retrievers named Murphy and Maggie and loves to try new things with them. She is also a volunteer raiser for a service dog organization so you may see an extra pup tagging along with her.

Sophie has been with Paws since April of 2021. She loves getting to know each puppy individually and discovering their unique personalities. One of her favorite things about working and training with our students is when they conquer a new skill and see it "click" for them. She strives to help shape well-mannered puppies who can go on to do amazing things with their owners and families. Sophie also conducts group classes, private lessons and loves working with owners to build successful communication with their dog.

Olivia, Trainer

Olivia has always had a strong passion for animals, she grew up riding, training and competing with horses. She has always loved dogs and cats and had a dream to be a dog trainer one day. She attended and graduated from Kennelwood Academy for Professional Dog Trainers in July of 2023. Upon completion, she was heavily involved in puppy imprinting, agility, specific odor detection, tracking, advanced retrieval and obedience alone with protection dog development. While at school she was invested in client interactions and helping owners feel empowered. She acquired a Belgian Malinois, Cisco, to train throughout schooling and plans on competing in PSA, Dock Diving and AKC Scent Work and Obedience with him. She enjoys spending her time with him hiking, swimming and teaching him new tricks. She states ‘I have a strong pull to help owners be successful with their dog and watching them achieve all of their training goals’.

Madison, Dock Diving Assistant and Puppy University Trainer

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 Dixie and Bailey in Dock Dogs as well as spending time training Seargeant. Madison is a wonderful asset to the team of Paws and our dock diving growth!

Delaney, Puppy University Trainer

Meet Delaney! Delaney is an up and coming trainer with a natural born talent. When working with the training dogs, she especially loves seeing when the confidence grows in the dogs. Whether it is a new puppy settling in their crate, beginning to express their personality, or when they really understand their training goals and commands. She loves connecting with clients and helping guide them with advice and relating to them on various subjects. She love spending time with her personal dogs, Archie (Border Collie) and Phoebe (Golden Retriever). Archie is involved in Herding, Dock Diving and Trick Training. He obtained his CGC and we know that is just the start for titles for him. Delaney loves working with them on obedience and polishing their off leash training as well. She loves working with her own dogs to be fit, mentally stimulated and happy.

Parker, Puppy University Trainer

Parker was born and raised in Sioux Falls and is currently working towards earning his Masters Degree in Athletic Training. He has a boxer named Griffin and will be receiving a service dog puppy to raise from Freedom Service Dogs in December. He has been with Paws since July of 2021 where he started in our boarding department. He loves working in Puppy University and seeing them progress throughout their training and gain confidence, along with getting to know their personalities. Parker’s goal as a trainer is to always put the dog and their owners in the best position for success and helping them get there however that may look!

Hollie, AKC Obedience Trainer

Hollie has always loved animals and knew she would always work with them one way or another. One of her first jobs was working at a dog boarding kennel in Stillwater, Minnesota where she grew up. Hollie graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Fish and Wildlife biology degree, and after college worked as a zookeeper for 15 years. Although she has left that career behind her, animals have remained a big part of her life. Hollie is a licensed master falconer and loves to spend time in late summer and fall flying and hunting with her hawk. Hollie first discovered AKC Obedience at the local kennel club and has been competing in AKC Obedience since 2014. Her German Shorthaired Pointer Faust (13 years) is retired from AKC Obedience with several High in Trial awards, High Combined, and received his Utility title right before retirement. Onyx, her 4 year old Pomeranian is currently competing in AKC Obedience. Her 1 year old Golden Retriever, Lark, is currently training for Obedience and also loves dock diving.


"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

I cannot say enough good things about Paws Pet Resort, the trainers and the training process. It has been absolutely amazing and so beneficial for our miniature Aussiedoodle, Alice. We started private lessons with Addison when Alice was 8 weeks old. Addison was an amazing trainer, she showed us how to work with Alice in a positive way and get the results we were looking for with our puppy. Addison would give me tips and pointers on training and was even available after training for any questions I had. We continued the private lessons until our puppy was old enough to participate in Paws Stay and Train program. Alice was a part of this program for 4 weeks. The trainers would communicate with us every week to let us know how she was progressing with her training, often sending pictures of her. The Stay and Train program really helped Alice hone in on her basic training skills learned through her private lessons and build upon them. Stay and Train was worth every penny! She is still very much a puppy, but she definitely knows what is expected of her at our home. We are now starting Puppy 201 group class and this has been a blast. It is great to work with Alice in a group setting, where she can be easily distracted by other dogs and people in the room. Paws Training program really is top-notch, from private lessons, to stay and train to group lessons. The trainers give you the skills and tools that you need, along with the support to make your dog the best it can be! ~ Mindy Stevens

As new dog owners, we quickly found out that not only is it important for our dog, Finn, to be trained, but it is also important for us as owners to be trained, and Paws Pet Resort is the best place to do so. We have enrolled in many classes such as Puppy 101 and Puppy 201 and have learned so much! With the help of the best trainers in Sioux Falls, we received the education on how to train Finn ourselves and grow our bond together to give him the best life possible. From group obedience classes to even fun classes like dock diving, trick classes and more, Paws Pet Resort truly has a place for every dog. - Shanya Burt

"I can't say enough good about Paws Pet Resort!! My Labrador puppy, Brynn, started Puppy University two days after I picked her up at 8 weeks old. I was like a nervous, protective new mom!! She went on to their Master's Class, Puppy 101 & 201, Basic 201, 301, & 401. We also did AKC Trick Dog, AKC FIT Dog, and day train. Needless to say we have had many opportunities to work with Sami, Addison, Taryn, Sophie, and Emma. These trainers are beyond phenomenal!!! Their knowledge of canine behavior, their willingness to share tips and tricks when you are having difficulty with something, and perhaps most importantly, the love they genuinely show your puppy means everything!!
Today, Brynn at 14 months old is still very much a puppy but when we are out in the community she knows her expectations and we are constantly told by store managers, employees, and customers how impressed they are with her behavior .... that's because of the training at Paws Pet Resort!!

Paws Pet Resort's mission statement calls for them to be a blessing. I wonder if they can even comprehend just how much of a blessing they are to this community!!!

~ Lori and Brynn Saville ~