MEET THE HAPPY DOGS TEAM!
Happy Dogs founder Karis Nafte has been working professionally with dogs since 1996.
She loves teaching her human and canine clients on “both ends of the leash” to have happy, harmonious relationships whether they have a new puppy or an older dog who needs to learn some new tricks.
Karis is an IAABC Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant (Click here for more info on IAABC.org) She 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 moved to South Africa in 2005 and started Happy Dogs. The Happy Dogs Training School operates in Knysna with a wonderful team of dog trainers. Karis oversees the training school and works directly with dogs who have more difficult behaviour issues.
Over the years as a dog trainer and behaviour consultant, 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 passionate agility handler, Karis is also an agility judge for the South African Dog Agility Association. She has been featured on Top Billing, for two years was a regular on 567/702 radio on the pet care line and is a regular guest on the eXpresso Show on SABC 3 discussing dog behavior.
Karis specializes in working with clients going through a divorce 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 whokeepsthedog.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, who 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 Companion Dog, Dogs in Motion and Canine Good Companion 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 in IT, Rikke has taught in various fields for years including nature guiding and adventure camps for kids and adults before joining Happy Dogs.
Having trained both obedience and agility with Rocky - a collie mix rescue with sky high energy levels – she also developed an interest in scent work and man-trailing.
Rikke is fascinated by the special bond that training builds between dog and handler and loves sharing it with others.
“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!”
Growing up with eight dogs, Bianca has had a love for dogs right from the very beginning.
She learnt to bark before she could talk!
Bianca has been working at Happy Dogs since 2013 where she spends her time working with dogs individually and teaching classes.
In addition to teaching puppy, obedience and agility lessons, Bianca also runs a dog walking business, taking dogs out to give them a safe and fun time to exercise and burn off extra energy whilst meeting up with some of their dog pals. Not put off by more difficult dogs, Bianca enjoys working with various behaviour challenges in dogs .
As she says, “I am fascinated by relationships and love working out how we affect our dogs and the effect they have on us, and realising just how intelligent and sensitive dogs are”.
Currently, Bianca has three dogs who she trains in agility and obedience and when she is off the training field, you can find her chasing after young daughter, being out in nature or
reading a good book.