Our Team

The team here at Cultured Canines is the heart of our business. Our amazing trainers have gone through over 100 hours of hands on and classroom training so they are able to tailor their support for each individual dog and owner. Every instructor has their own approach and their own training experience to bring to the table.

This is not just a job for our instructors. All of our team members are here because they loved the relationship they were able to build with their dogs as Cultured Canines clients before they became trainers. They are passionate about sharing their knowledge and helping you achieve your goals with your dog.

 

Beth O’Connor

She/Her
Founder & Owner

Team member since 2011

Quill, Leia, Jake, and Kirk

Before I became a dog trainer, my first dog, Jett and I were at the off leash park when he saw another dog across the street. Jett ran after it, and was hit by an SUV and died shortly after in my arms. This was, without a doubt, the worst day of my life. My family and I were convinced that Jett’s behaviour was “good enough” so we never did a proper training class with him. We just used treats to bribe him to listen.

After this horrible incident, I got a new puppy, Jake! I was determined to do everything right with him. I took a course through Pawsitive Dawgs with Jake when he was four months old, and we loved every minute of it. I saw that the training organization that Pawsitive Dawgs was a part of was offering a course in Calgary to become a trainer, so I jumped at the opportunity (the course was usually only taught in Kelowna). After a year of hard work and dedication, I received my training certification.

I became a dog trainer so that I could help show dog owners that having a dog that is “good enough” is not enough. I don’t want anyone to have to endure what my family and I went through with Jett. The single biggest killer of pets is not disease; it is behavioural problems.

I want to help you have the best possible relationship with your dee-oh-gee! The relationships I have been able to build with my four dogs, Jake, Leia, Kirk, and Quill has shown me just how amazing and complex the relationship between dogs and humans can and should be.  I love helping people have this level of understanding with their own dogs. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the bond between a dog and their owners grow and blossom.

I am extremely passionate about the things that I teach and my personality comes through in all of Cultured Canines’ courses. I am not the kind of trainer that just tells you the theories, I get in there with you and I’ll be right there by your side through your struggles. I have dogs too, and none of them are perfect. I don’t just bring my “good” dog to class, I’ll bring the dog that I know will struggle in a particular lesson so I can show you how to work through it. I’m never afraid to be completely transparent with my clients when it comes to realistic expectations and how hard training a dog really is. Training is a PROCESS, not a quick fix!

In my free time I participate in a variety of dog sports with my pack. We do herding, barn hunt, agility, rally obedience, nose work, and tricks! The foundation that Cultured Canines provides has given me the ability to have sport dogs that are also wonderful pets. I am also a Certified Trick Dog Instructor!

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Taylor Kipnes

He/Him
Lead Instructor

Team member since 2016

Maple

I started out as your typical “hard sell” client. My wife looked in to Cultured Canines and my IMMEDIATE RESPONSE was “pffft I’ve had dogs my whole life. I know how to train them…”

Spoiler alert – I did not. Once we started attending classes with Maple I immediately realized that there was so much more to dog training than I ever realized.

We came in to this with a 6 month old Bernese Mountain Dog that pulled, barked, jumped, a digger, a chewer and we totally justified it because she was cute…

Training is a journey. It’s about understanding behaviour (yours and your dogs) and building a strong foundation and even stronger relationship.

While we have been trainers since 2016, even for us, training is an ongoing process.

We have moved homes, dealt with a pandemic, welcomed a baby…and while “life” happens, your training will require you to be versatile and come up with a plan. We can help with that!

Every client has very high standards and goals they want to accomplish with their dogs. If you are ready and willing to put in the work and take on this tough but very rewarding challenge, then I look forward to helping you throughout your training journey.

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Rebecca Neale

She/Her
Lead Instructor

Team member since 2018

Arlo and Winry

I got Arlo in the Spring of 2018 and knew right away that I wanted to sign up for classes. Arlo was a very challenging puppy and I was at a loss. Arlo was the type of dog who would do anything for a treat, but did not care to have a relationship with the person giving the treat. I felt like a vending machine! All I wanted was trusting, loving relationship with my dog. When looking for training classes Cultured Canines came highly recommended to me from more than a few friends and I was intrigued by the ‘treat free method,’ so I began the course in July. After each class my relationship with Arlo got stronger and stronger and I began to feel like a much more confident dog owner. Our training really paid off and I am amazed at the dog Arlo is today. Cultured Canines not only helped Arlo and I with behaviour training, but it also strengthened our relationship.

I was eager to begin my own training as an assistant trainer because I wanted to help others who were in the same boat as me. Building a solid relationship with your dog is a such a rewarding experience! I hope to continue helping struggling dog owners just like the amazing staff of Cultured Canines helped me.

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Ashley Miller

She/Her
Lead Instructor

Team member since 2018

Nash

Animals have always been a large part of my life. From family dogs, training and competing in show jumping to fostering behaviour dogs at local organizations.

I adopted Nash as a 1 year old and quickly learned that he had some serious socialization issues. I became a ball of anxiety anytime I had to take Nash outside.

This wasn’t the life I imagined with my dog so I began searching for a dog training program and stumbled across Cultured Canines. Their philosophy and no treat training sparked my interest, I signed up for the C.O.O.L. course right away.

Nash was the loudest and craziest dog in our class but with the support and guidance of the Cultured team, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Every day my bond with Nash grows stronger and I am now living the life I wanted to with my furry adventure buddy. 

I love that I now get to be a part of helping others who are facing their own challenges with their dogs. 

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Kayla Mathison

She/Her
Assistant Instructor

Team member since 2017

Ash and Zoey

I was a perfect example of a client that “grew up with dogs” so “why do I need training!” After joining the COOL Course I was able to build on my previous training foundation, and strengthen my relationship with my dogs. Having a dog with anxiety, and fear – The COOL Course gave me a great opportunity to not only focus on obedience, but also help me understand and work through the challenges that presented themselves. I have two dogs, and both have similarities but are also very different. Cultured Canines gave me the tools and confidence I needed to not only create the best space for my dogs, but as a trainer – help you with your training journey!

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Bryanne Kipnes

She/Her
Admin and Assistant Instructor

Team member since 2016

Maple

I grew up in a large family where having a well trained family dog was never a priority. Our dogs always had full control of what they wanted to do, we didn’t enjoy taking them for walks because they would pull too hard on the leash; their behaviours were out of control.

Fast forward 10 years and this is when we brought Maple home! I knew we needed proper training right from the start! I searched and searched for the right company and came upon Cultured Canines. I loved the philosophy and new this was the right one for us. Only thing left to do was convince my husband! Spoiler alert it worked, now we’re both trainers with the Cultured Canines!

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Becky VanTassel

She/Her
Lead Instructor

Team member since 2019

Olive, Briar and Louie

Dogs have been a constant part of my life since I was very young. I grew up in a family that ethically bred dogs, and we often had puppies underfoot.
As an adult, I have participated in many forms of dog training. When I got my youngest dog, I realized that these other forms of training just were not enough and seemed to actually make our relationship harder. I also found that the reactivity was getting worse.
When I found Cultured Canines I knew that this was a perfect fit for me and my three dogs. It was through this training program that I was able to build a real relationship with all of my dogs. Through balanced training, I was able to have the kind of life I wanted with all my dogs. Thanks to Cultured Canines we are now able to participate in other forms of dog sports. This experience has sparked my passion to help others with their dogs.
I now feel great fulfillment in helping other people build relationships with their dogs. I am motivated to help people with their dogs in a fun and accessible way. I am also a Registered Social Worker and educator and love to bring these skills into my dog training work.

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Amanda Wagner

She/Her
Assistant Instructor

Team member since 2021

Riggs and Rue

I have always had a constant pull toward dogs and have tried to work with them in some form. I have always wanted to help dogs and advocate for them. When I moved from Ontario to Alberta, I landed in Canmore where I was grateful enough to work as a dog walker in the mountains and was the director of volunteers at the BVSPCA.
When I was looking at adding another dog to my pack, I researched a few breeds I was interested in and landed on a border collie. I was looking at getting a puppy but found someone who needed to rehome their dog and ended up adopting Riggs when he was 18 months old.
Oh man, that was a shock. I did my research and understood a border collie wouldn’t be an easy dog and would need a lot of work, but Riggs threw me into a tailspin. Compared to my 14-year-old Pomeranian poodle, Rue who was a super easy and chill dog. Riggs had a bite history, redirection reactivity, and is fear reactive. I knew I wanted to take the COOL course with Culture Canines before I even picked Riggs up and I am forever thankful that I did! The team helped us build a foundation and provided continued support throughout our training journey.
While we are still working through things, we’ve both come a long way and the bond we’ve built is like nothing else.
My journey with Riggs has amplified my need to understand dog psychology and body language. My goal is to help people with dogs like Riggs build their bond and a relationship they always wanted. I want to continue educating people and advocating for dogs like Riggs who just need a little extra understanding. And this is what led us here – being a part of the Cultured team!
I am excited to be a part of an amazing team at Culture Canines and look forward to helping you and your dog on your journey!

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Siobhan McNeil

She/Her
Assistant Instructor

Team member since 2021

Arlo and Mabel

I met Arlo when I entered a relationship and, as cute and loving as he is, he was such a handful. He was then two years old, had been a rescue, and had health issues as a puppy. I knew that he needed some serious training intervention and we scoured the Internet and landed on Cultured Canines.
He would get over-excited on walks, jumping, nipping, and barking. He destroyed many items around the house. He was easily afraid and would run away from some people and dogs. He would bark and scream when he was tied up and when people came over. When he was caught being bad, his favourite game was keep away.
Fast-forward through the Cultured Canine course and he was leaps and bounds better than when we began. We continued with training and going to drop-in classes and are so impressed with him. In fact, we felt so much more confident with him that we stepped it up and I got to follow my childhood dream of getting my own puppy!
In 2021, Mabel came into the picture. She is a very feisty pup who has all the courage and tenacity that Arlo lacks… too much. At two months old, she would attack Arlo if he tried to pick up even one of his own toys. We enrolled her in Proper Puppers as soon as we could and carried on to C.O.O.L. so that she could learn all the important basics as well as to tone it down and be friendly with other dogs and humans.
Cultured helped me build such a good relationship with my pups, and I love that I can help others do that too!

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Ali Anderson

She/Her
Assistant Instructor

Team member since 2021

MJ

Dogs have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a family that ethically bred and showed dogs. My grandma was the president of Alberta Kennel Club Training at one point, and my grandpa was very involved in AKC as well. We had Norwegian Elkhounds, Dobermans, Jack Russels, Whippets, Sheltie’s, and a few other breeds. When I started university, my mom got a boxer/American bulldog cross named Maverick, and he developed some serious reactivity to other dogs. Although my family was very involved with training and breeding, I never thought to ask them about it and just figured there was nothing we could do for the reactivity, and we would just have to cross the street and avoid other dogs at all costs. 7 years later, I got my own dog MJ, and I learned how incredibly wrong I was about training dogs; and that I most likely created Mav’s reactivity.

I wanted MJ to be a dog that I could have off leash constantly, a dog I could trust to be around every and anyone, and a dog that I could build a close relationship with. I realized I was in over my head with a working breed and decided to join the Cultured Canines Proper Puppers course. I loved going to every class and wanted to learn as much as I could. I spent every free minute I had learning about dog training. After Puppers, I went on to take a dog psychology course and continued to learn about different training methods until I came back to Beth and asked if I could shadow her to learn more. I took the COOL course and learned so much more, and she then ended up hiring me. Beth’s method of training is reliable and teaches you how to communicate effectively with your dog and vice versa, without relying on food. I truly believe I found my passion through dog training and am so grateful for Beth taking a chance on me! While I am sad that I failed my mom’s dog Maverick, I now have the toolset to ensure this doesn’t happen again. There are no two same dogs, and I love that about this job. Every family and dog are different and there is constant opportunity to learn and grow. Cultured Canines has helped me build a strong relationship with MJ and I am so excited to continue to help other people do the same!

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Alyssa Pawlak

She/Her
Assistant Instructor

Team member since 2018

Maddy

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Sarah Kapiczowski

She/Her
Assistant Instructor

Team member since 2019

Moose

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