SF Puppy prep is peerless when it comes to puppy training and socialization.
We’re the only puppy school that specializes in all the social, developmental, and early learning needs of young puppies.
We know puppies inside and out
We know how they think and how they learn. And we spend our days turning puppies (and adult dogs, too) into well-behaved charmers who are a pleasure to live with.
We help you survive puppyhood
There are plenty of puppy classes out there. We do so much more—our integrated programs combine learning, play, and care at home and at school to get you through the puppy and adolescent stages to a wonderful adult dog.
Raising an urban puppy can be an exercise in frustration. Your little angel is a biting, peeing, chewing ball of energy. We put the cute back in your puppy through gentle, effective training and lots of opportunities to burn off excess energy.
Convenience and flexibility
Cover all your puppy’s developmental needs when it matters most—in the first five months of life—by mixing and matching our services to meet the needs of your own busy schedule, and save a little, too.
Fun and rewarding training
Our training methods are cutting edge, science-based, and designed to be fun for you and your dog both. They’re pretty darn effective, too.
Expert, caring staff
Our trainers are graduates of the SF/SPCA Academy, the Harvard of dog training schools. Our puppy counselors undergo extensive training on the care, handling, and developmental needs of puppies. In short, we’re puppy experts. And we’re nice, too.
We enjoy a dedicated 5,300 square foot facility in the heart of SOMA. Our training and play areas boast state-of-the-art rubber flooring and undergo stringent daily cleaning protocols to keep our charges healthy.
How it all started, or why we do all the puppy stuff
Sometime in 2003 or so, we (meaning Aishe and Stephanie, co-founders of SF Puppy Prep) had a seemingly common, innocuous conversation. The kind of conversation trainers have all the time about how troubling it is to see so many adult dogs and their people struggle with behavior issues that could easily have been avoided with proper training and socialization during early puppyhood.
Then we found ourselves talking more about this, and then about how simple puppy classes by themselves really fall short of the full support urban puppy owners need to survive their dogs’ puppyhood in the face of jobs and careers and kids and family and all the other life obligations we all struggle under these days.
And about how complex it is to raise a puppy for life in the big city—to raise a puppy into an unflappable adult dog, one who is unfazed by the challenges and surprises and social density of urban living.
Eventually we realized we were talking about all of this a lot. And that maybe we should do something about it. So we started SF Puppy Prep. We opened our doors in 2003 with puppy classes augmented by private training, puppy socials (virtually unheard of back then!), and puppy-only daycare.
What happened next, or why we do all the adult dog stuff
We realized pretty quickly that the hardest part of our work was going to be saying good-bye to both our canine and human clients as the pups in our care grew up and graduated from our programs.
Turns out we weren’t the only ones struggling with saying good-bye. Clients began to ask us for continuing programs for their puppies as they aged out of classes, socials, and daycare. Though their needs were changing as their puppies grew up, they wanted some level of ongoing support.
So we added additional classes for adult dogs. For small dogs 20 pounds and under we eventually created our small dog daycare, to keep the littlest of our grads safe under our roof.
What’s going on today, 11 years later
Today, over 11 years in, we can’t believe how lucky we are to do what we do for the amazing people and dogs we do it for.
Our classes continue to be great fun.
Our socials have become nearly standing room only. We were once even voted Best Place to Take a Date in the Bay Guardian!
Our puppy daycare program has evolved into Puppy Dayschool, combining the care of our puppy counselors with the expertise of our puppy trainers to make our clients’ lives that much easier.
And every day we continue to enjoy the company of adult dogs in classes and in small dog daycare who we have watched grow up from crazy bundles of puppy energy into well-behaved, delightful city dogs.
Aishe Berger, MSW, CTC, CPDT-KA, Owner
Aishe is a graduate of Jean Donaldson’s world-renowned SF/SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, and holds a post-graduate honors Certificate in Curriculum Development & Design, and a graduate degree in Social Work. She is a certified professional dog trainer, holding her CPDT from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, and is a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Aishe has been training dogs and their people since 2001. After her post-graduate certification, she stayed on at the SPCA as a public class teacher and on-call trainer for the next 3 years before starting SF Puppy Prep with Stephanie Miller. Alongside her work with rescue dogs at the SPCA, Aishe was the behaviorist at the East Bay Berkeley Humane Society. Aishe is passionate about teaching and supporting dog owners as much as the dogs themselves. She strives to make SF Puppy Prep’s classes and curriculum practical, doable, and enjoyable. She lives in San Francisco with her mini poodle, Farfel, and her toy poodle, Snuggles, a 16 year old Muttville senior dog rescue.
Nicole Allen, General Manager
Nicole is involved in one way or another with all aspects of the business, but her main focus is running the office and working with clients to ensure everyone is happy and well cared for. She’s always had a soft spot for puppies and loves helping puppy parents decide which of our classes and programs are best for their pups, and answering the many questions most have as they seek a little help and relief during the puppyhood phase. Nicole grew up with a wide variety of pets, including chickens, horses, goats, bunnies, and of course dogs. She volunteered at the local shelter and regularly rescued and re-homed strays even as a young girl. She now shares her home with husband Oliver, a Chihuahua, a Pittie who thinks she’s a Chihuahua, and her rapidly growing toddler Lucas (who enjoys dogs, and loves coming into puppy prep to help socialize all the puppies).
Marie grew up with many kinds of pets and always had a passion for caring for and learning about animals. She began rescuing and finding homes for abandoned or injured creatures as a child. Her first job was working at the Berkeley Animal Shelter and has over twelve years of professional animal experience from being a grooming salon manager to an intern working with lions, tigers, bison and elk. After working with all types of animals Marie found that her heart had gone to the dogs. Marie loves to bond with the puppies here at SF Puppy Prep and takes pride in helping them learn and prepare for life as well adjusted dogs in the city. She has a loving family that consists of three fat – faced puppies. The oldest, at 6 years old, is Lola, a french bulldog who loves everyone, her middle child, Big Daddy, is a 4 year old rescue pittie, who is a prancing pretty princess with kitty ears. And last but definitely not least, is her largest baby, Tater – Tot, a 90 pound special needs pittie who believes he is the smallest and should be on your lap at all times. She received her Certificate in Training and Behavior Consultation from the Dog Training Internship Academy in 2016.
Michelle Martens, CTC, Trainer & Class Instructor
Dominika Knossalla, CTC, CNW, Trainer & Class Instructor
Dominika originally hails from Poland, where she continues to contribute a column called Przyjaciel Pies (Dog Your Friend) to the leading Polish magazine about dogs. She’s lived and trained in several countries and cities, so we’re lucky she’s settled with us here at SF Puppy Prep, where she teaches classes and works with private training clients. Students rave about how Dominika manages to make training fun, balance group and individual needs, and explain things in a way that just makes sense. Dominika is a graduate of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, is a Certified K9 Nosework Instructor, and a member of the National Association of Canine Scent Work and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. She enjoys doing nosework with her high energy lab Lola, who has her NoseWork 1 title and is busy sniffing out her next title level.