About Bravo!Pup

We Train Puppies, Dogs, and Their People.

We train both you and your dog using positive techniques that make learning exciting, fun, and motivating for everyone. Our family-friendly classes are lively and interactive so you understand exactly how your dog learns best.

Play and Learn Together.

Our deep belief is that play is essential for happiness, no matter what species you are. We’ll show you how to engage your dog in learning by turning most anything into a game! Then training is no longer a chore–it’s a total delight and you both will learn essential skills along the way. 

Love Your Dream Dog for Life.

BravoPup’s mission is to build fulfilling and lasting relationships between humans and their four-legged family members. We love dogs, and we love helping people discover ways to understand, communicate with, and appreciate their dogs for a lifetime.

The Bravo!Pup Team

Sandi Thompson


Sandi Thompson is the founder and owner of Bravo!Pup LLC, which she launched in 2008 to bring state-of-the-art dog training and socialization activities to East Bay dog lovers. BravoPup’s mission is to engage dog owners in positive reinforcement training through group classes that are entertaining, effective, and taught by the most qualified team of instructors in the area.

With over 25 years of training education and experience, Sandi is personally recommended by both veterinarians and leaders in the field of canine behavior. Her dynamic teaching style and easy-to-understand lessons have produced multiple generations of positively trained dogs as well as happy owners.

Sandi started her animal training career as a 12-year-old volunteer at the Oakland Zoo where she cared for a variety of exotic animals and taught sign language to the chimpanzees. After graduating from college, Sandi began training dogs and puppies professionally for Sirius® Puppy Training where she taught classes for two decades and became their lead trainer.

She is an honors graduate of the San Francisco SPCA’s prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers as well as one of the first trainers in the US to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). She is a charter member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and has coached numerous trainers in the art and science of dog training. In recognition of these and other accomplishments, Sandi was named the APDT National Trainer of the Year in 2006.

Sandi’s media appearances include Animal Planet, CNN, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Amazing Animals in Japan, and Fine Living Network (HGTV). She is also the co-inventor of KongTime, an award winning product designed to reducing anxiety in home-alone dogs.

Sandi resides in the Berkeley hills with her dogs Siam Sam and Turtle. She enjoys hiking, climbing, and adventure travel. Her travels have taken her throughout Southeast Asia to observe wildlife and spend time with tribal people. She has also visited Rwanda, Uganda and Borneo where she fulfilled her childhood dream of trekking with mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans in the wild. In recent years, Sandi completed an internship at the Oakland Zoo and continues to volunteer time, including raising and training the zoo’s ‘ambassador dog’, a Golden Retriever named Lily.

Alyx Banyan


Alyx Banyan is BravoPup’s Administrator. Whenever you contact us, it is Alyx who responds to your message and facilitates answers to your questions. With over 30 years of management and customer service experience in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors, she provides the all-important “glue” that keeps BravoPup functioning smoothly.

A lifelong animal lover, avid gardener and human caregiver, Alyx is happy to help you navigate your journey with Bravo!Pup.  

Anna Carlson


Anna caught the “training bug” at the age of seven, when she discovered Sandi Thompson’s puppy training classes. She attended Sandi’s classes religiously twice a week (without a dog!) from age seven through eleven and continues under Sandi’s mentorship. During that time she also began volunteering at local animal shelters and started a neighborhood dog walking business. Shelter dogs hold a special place in Anna’s heart and she has volunteered at several shelters/rescues including SFSPCA, Berkeley Humane, and BACS. Prior to joining the BravoPup team, Anna worked in the training department at Guide Dogs for the Blind. She has devoured books about dogs and training ever since she was able to read and continues her education as a member of the internationally-renowned Academy for Dog Trainers.

Anna also has a background educating people. She spent five years teaching English as a Foreign Language in Madrid, Spain, and six years as a naturalist/wilderness guide in Alaska. Anna is fascinated by the interspecies relationship held between dogs and humans and our ability to communicate with one another. She loves that pet dog training allows her to work with both dogs AND people- and to be a part of teaching people how to better understand dog behavior and learning. Her teaching philosophy is that learning should be a fun and revelatory process for both humans and dogs, and emphasizes positive, science based methods.

Anna shares her life with her “foster failure” Eeva (a German Shepherd mix), her partner Simmons who is a fly fishing guide, and their newborn daughter Emilia. She enjoys mountain biking, trail running, backpacking, camping, learning languages, and travel. In addition to two years living in Germany and five years living in Spain, Anna has spent extended periods of time traveling, including 8 months living on a farm in Brazil, and visits to Antarctica, India, Turkey, several countries in South America, and multiple cross country road trips in the US. If you are in one of her classes and speak to her in Spanish or Portuguese you will make her day!

Nicole Peisl​


Nicole, who was born and raised in Austria, is completing her training at the Academy for Dog Trainers and the newest member of the BravoPup
training family.

Nicole comes to dog training after a career in dance, performance, teaching and choreography. She danced for years professionally in Europe with the Ballet Frankfurt and the Forsythe Company and holds a PhD in Performance Studies from UC Davis.

Nicole believes deeply in the power of embodied practices that support and make change visible. She brings this commitment to her work with dogs, and people who love dogs. It is her love for her German Shepherd Mix Charlie, a rescue, and the support of some very extraordinary and dedicated dog trainers that has brought her on this fascinating path.

Katy Becker


Katy Becker teaches a range of puppy and adult dog classes for Bravo Pup as well as providing private consults. She loves to help her human students gain the skills and confidence to get the behaviors they want from their dogs while also enjoying the unique bond they share with their canine companions.

Katy is a veteran class instructor with over seven years teaching experience at Sirius Puppy and Dog Training. She also spent nine years as a handler and supervisor at Citizen Canine, the East Bay’s premier doggie daycare and boarding facility where she gained experience with dogs of all different shapes, sizes and breeds. She has an extensive knowledge of dog body language, dog-dog interactions, and dog play skills which give her critical insights with her private cases.

In 2005, Katy earned a Certificate in Training and Counseling from the Academy for Dog Trainers at the San Francisco SPCA and knew she had found her life’s passion in dog training. After graduation, she completed an internship in the SPCA’s behavior and training department, where she received continuing education on behavior modification, class teaching, and dog-dog interactions under the tutelage of SPCA trainers Kim Moeller and Gina Phairas.

Katy lives in Oakland with a Husky mix named Bodie.

Maureen Coyle


Maureen Coyle has been training and handling dogs for over 15 years as a professional trainer, dog walker, and groomer. She specializes in private training for a wide range of obedience skills and behavioral issues including Fear, Anxiety, and Aggression.

Currently, Maureen works one-on-one with BravoPup clients to help them build happy and effective relationships with their dogs. You can see her in action every Thursday night at Bravo’s puppy socials where she supervises the “pre-rowdy” area and helps all the new, small, and/or shy pups have a safe introduction to puppy play.

Maureen is a 2005 honors graduate of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers with a Certificate in Training & Counseling (CTC), as well as an internship program participant. She has worked as a class instructor for the City of Concord and is a substitute class instructor for BravoPup. She is a professional level member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, a certified professional groomer and she holds a certificate in pet CPR.

By day Maureen is a dog behavior professional; by night she plays the accordion. A self-identified “poodle person”, Maureen shares her life with a curly-coated girl named Gracie and her musician husband, Will.

Holden Svirsky


K. Holden Svirsky is a graduate of the Academy for Dog Trainers and a recipient of the 2014 Shelter & Rescue Scholarship. Over the last decade, she has worked full time at three different animal shelters, performed intake at shelters all over the state of California, and serves on the Shelter and Rescue Committee of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), as well as their Advocacy Panel. 

Holden is a featured conference speaker and writes about canine social behavior for PPG’s ‘BARKS from the Guild.’ She is a supporting member of the International Association of Animal Behavior consultants and has completed the Aggression in Dogs Master Course. Holden is also a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT) and has trained a number of service dogs for veterans. 

She currently teaches Bravo!Pup’s remote class offerings. 

Kristin Lucy


Kristin is a 2020 Honors graduate of Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers.

When she was without a dog of her own at home for many years, Kristin got her “doggie fix” by volunteering at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (“ARF”) in Walnut Creek, beginning in 2013. She completed ARF’s “Shelter U” program which provided a basic background in positive reinforcement and force-free handling. She then assisted with ARF’s Puppy Manners, Basic Manners and Reactive Rover classes. She also spent some time as a Behavior Volunteer at Berkeley Humane.

Her primary gig is still as a full-time practicing attorney, but she enjoys using her CTC to teach Puppy 1 classes in Walnut Creek. Kristin is endlessly intrigued with the application of known, scientific principles of animal learning to individual dogs. She recently welcomed her own dog into her family with the addition of Obed, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Obed has provided Kristin with an education in the real-life challenges of both puppyhood and teenager-dom.

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Live Remote Instruction

Our Live Remote instruction uses the zoom platform to teach live, not pre-recorded, classes. This is the perfect way to benefit from group training for those dogs that are not yet ready for in-person classes. 

Your highly educated and experienced instructor Holden Svirsky, CTC, CSAT, is a graduate of ‘The Academy for Dog Trainers’ and has developed these classes specifically for remote learning. 



Covid-19 Protocols

Safe, Effective Solutions During COVID-19

Covid-19 protocols are continually changing. We are aware that many industries are relaxing their mask wearing requirements. Mask wearing is now optional for all students and instructors. 

If you are feeling unwell or have been exposed to covid, we ask that you stay home. 

We are incredibly grateful for all of our clients, and are committed to keeping everyone safe and healthy as we navigate these ever changing times!