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Meet Our Trainers

Tom Altman

Tom AltmanTom works to promote harmonious relationships between dogs and their owners, by preventing negative behaviors.  His motto is “A dog worth having is a dog worth training.” In addition to having a B.S. in Animal Science (Purdue University), Tom has the following qualifications and 35 years’ experience as follows:

  • Provided families with pet training (classroom setting and private lessons)
  • Provided competitive obedience and agility training
  • Nationally ranked dogs, top ten in the U.S. in competitive obedience
  • Judged 4-H dog agility competitions (Florida State Fair)
  • Trained blind and deaf dogs


  • American Kennel Club - training that certifies puppies in the Puppy S.T.A.R. Program (Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility)
  • Training adult dogs for – Canine Good Citizen title (C.G.C.)
  • Our dogs have earned many titles over the years in competitive Agility and Obedience.

Contact information:
website: https://www.woofandwags.com/
phone: (941) 486-1378
cell: (219) 508-4136

Rita Figg

Rita Figg has finished dogs of various breeds in AKC Conformation, Obedience and Lure Coursing. She is an AKC Conformation Judge for fifteen (15) breeds and for Junior Showmanship. She has also been an All-Breed Coursing Judge for AKC since its inception in 1991 and for the American Sighthound Field Association since 1979.

Michele Kauffman

Michele KauffmanThe Konnected K9, LLC
Connection, Cooperation, & Control (CCC) Certified Instructor

Michele discovered CCC in 2016 and embraced it after experiencing profound changes in her relationships with her own dogs. She completed her CCC Instructor Certification in 2018 so she could share her enthusiasm for CCC with other handler and dog teams.

With a Masters of Education degree, 16 years of teaching experience in elementary and special education, and over 20 years of experience working with animals, Michele continues to further her education about dogs through workshops with Suzanne Clothier, Bob Bailey, and Sue Sternberg. She has completed a variety of training classes, including Nosework and Rally Obedience, to deepen her relationships with her own dogs.

Since 2002, Michele has enjoyed volunteering for Canine Companions for Independence, including raising puppies and teaching their local training classes. She has also volunteered with Pets On Wheels and National Capital Therapy Dogs providing animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapies, as well as the R.E.A.D. Program.

Michele lives with her Labrador/Golden Retriever, Spike, her Miniature Dachshund, Rocket, and her VERY patient husband.

Contact information: 

Katara Peters

Katara PetersKatara Peters has been teaching for over 20 years and ran her own dog obedience training school until 2016. Currently teaching in both PA and Florida, she is a certified trainer through the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors and an AKC evaluator for Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog titles. She offers numerous forms of group, private and online training - Pet Friendly Obedience, including Puppy to Advanced, Games Classes, Rally Obedience, Scent Work, as well as Foundation to Advanced Agility. She has also worked on behavior modification.

Her training encourages building a better relationship between you and your dog with a positive style. She uses treats and/or toys as an incentive and reinforcement while creating a free-thinking pet. Through the years, she has participated in various AKC and UKC sanctioned competitions and has titled dogs in Confirmation, Agility, Obedience, Rally Obedience, Barn Hunt and Scent Work.

Contact Information:
website: www.groovypoochtraining.com
phone: 814-720-1456

Bess Walmsley

Bes WalmsleyBess Walmsley is the owner of K9 Best Manners LLC., a positive, family friendly dog training based business. She has been an instructor for The Greater Venice Dog Club for as long as we have been offering classes. She has taught everything from handling for the show ring, puppy classes, obedience Levels 1 and 2, Canine Good Citizen classes and "funObility". FunObility combines obedience, beginner agility and tricks and is fun and exciting for dogs and their families.

She has also taught many classes for Suncoast Humane Society, Peace River Dog Fanciers, CGC for Peace River Search and Rescue, and Suncoast Humane Society's Cell Dog program. She is a certified AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and a supporting member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She has traveled around the US attending workshops and seminars with the best and most knowledgeable trainers in the country and I have brought this knowledge back to share with my students. She has trained over 400 pet dogs in this area and I still learn new things. I love to show people how to read their dogs and teach them how to be happy family members.

Contact information:
phone: (941) 497-1979
cell: (941) 232-9397