Happy Dogs founder Karis Nafte has been working with dogs since 1996. She loves teaching her human and canine clients on “both end of the leash” to have happy, harmonious relationships whether they have a new puppy or an old dog who needs to learn some new tricks.
Karis uses force free methods, positive reinforcement and effective communication, not fear or intimidation, to get desired behaviors from the dogs she works with.
Originally from the USA, Karis studied through the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers). She moved to Cape Town in 2005 where she started Happy Dogs and in 2011 opted out of big city life and moved Happy Dogs to Knysna where she worked for ten years in the Garden Route.
Over the years as a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, Karis has worked with thousands of dogs of all sorts of breeds with all sorts of behavior issues, from aggression to disinterest, puppies to wild packs. She has also been lucky to work with many different species of animals, horses, parrots, cats, cheetahs, pigs, wolves and chickens to name a few.
A licensed animal wrangler for the film industry and a passionate agility handler, Karis is an agility judge for the South African Dog Agility Association and was on the board of directors for SADAA for four years. She has been featured on Top Billing, for two years was a regular on 567/702 radio on the pet care line as well as weekly guest on the eXpresso Show on SABC 3 discussing dog behavior.
Karis specializes in working with clients going through a separation to make good decisions for the custody of their pets. She works online worldwide to help resolve issues around divorce and pets. For more information visit karisnafte.com
Cathie has been training dogs since 1988 when she got her first Border Collie, Caley. Since then she has trained and competed in obedience, agility, dog jumping, working trials and carting competitions and earned Gauteng Provincial colours in 1996 when she and Caley were selected for the provincial team at the South African Working Dogs Invitation Stakes at the Dog of the Year show.
In recent years she trained her Maltese/Border Collie cross named Monty, and he achieved champion status in carting and dog jumping, as well as being awarded the title of Companion Dog Excellent in working trials competitions.
Cathie has taught puppy classes and more advanced obedience training for the past 20 years and has passed level 1 & 2 of the Hills Puppy School Instructor courses. She assists at Happy Dogs with the Puppy 1 & 2 classes as well as teaches more advanced work in 2 other Companion Dog classes.
Heather began dog training in 1996 in Johannesburg, with her own dog Thabanchu. In 1998, she moved to Knysna and resumed training with Cindy Smailes of K9 Training.
She participated in advanced obedience and began agility. Cindy instilled in her a great love for training with her dogs. Heather has been a professional dog trainer and handler with Karis Nafte's Happy Dogs team since 2016 and has been training her own dogs with Karis in both obedience and agility since 2013.
In 2017, under Karis' guidance, she launched her dream, "Dogs Day Out", a Doggy Play Care in Knysna, where well socialised dogs can come and play with each other in a safe, secure and supervised environment.
Megan was first introduced to the fascinating world of dog training at the age of 10, at Cape Province Dog Club, when she started training her male Jack Russel named Luke. While Luke was certainly a challenging first dog, he and Megan soon learned to love the sport of dog agility, and it became a permanent fixture in their lives. Megan went on to train and handle two Australian Shepherds and a rescued collie cross, until finally getting her current dog, Smithy, a schnauzer-dachshund cross.
Megan first became an agility instructor at Cape Province in 2011, and between then and 2017 was involved in training agility handlers and dogs at all levels, from beginners to advanced competitors. She also assisted in training new agility instructors during this period.
While Megan enjoys focusing on the finer points of handling and training, she 100% believes that the ultimate goal of dog training, and in particular of a dog sport like agility, should be to build the bond between handler and dog, and result in sheer enjoyment by both. She is therefore committed to a force-free training environment, in which progress is built upon communication, trust and understanding between handler and dog.
Originally with a background IT, Rikke has taught in various fields for years including nature guiding and adventure camps for kids and adults and has now joined Happy Dogs as the newest team member.
“It all started when I got Rocky – a collie mix rescue with sky high energy levels. We did both obedience and agility classes at Happy Dogs and my love for dog training was born.
Like all trainers at Happy Dogs I fully subscribe to sound, science based positive methods to teach dogs and their humans and I can’t wait to meet you and your dog!”