Nitro K-9 Team

Nitro K-9 Founder Steve Walter


Steve Walter is the founder of Nitro K-9. His training philosophy, which is based on European dog training underpinned by the concept of yin and yang, is the result of many years of working with dogs and refining multiple techniques from many different training systems.

Steve started training dogs in his teens, using traditional military techniques. In the early 90s, when reward-based training started becoming popular, he worked with dogs using both edible rewards and clicker/marker training. However, he quickly noticed that the results were erratic, and that there was an increase in unreliable and sometimes aggressive behavior.

At the time, he was also getting involved with many of the European dog clubs, including French Ring, Schutzhund, Mondio Ring, and K.N.P.V. While food was used in training, he noticed that it was totally different in application and response. None of the dogs had aggression issues (and these were dogs that were trained to bite). They didn’t jump on people or pull on the leash. And as he trained his oldest dog Isaiah in French Ring, he started seeing a real difference; there was a new desire to please, a new confidence … and a much greater bond.

Steve wanted to bring these professional results to his clients—everyday people with household dogs. He started exploring different training systems used both in the U.S., and in Europe, working together with many different dog trainers, and has taken the best parts of multiple systems. The result is a comprehensive training program that uses non-cruel and humane methods that result in bonding, mutual respect, and stellar (not to mention reliable) behavior.

Over the years, Steve has trained thousands of dogs (and their owners) using the Nitro Dog training system. He has rehabilitated hundreds of “red zone” dogs and hundreds more that food and clicker methods have failed. Nitro K-9 training is also successfully used for advanced training, whether sports, protection or scent work—not to mention regular dogs that just need better obedience training.

Christina Oppedal
Lead Trainer and Co-owner

Christina has been training for Nitro K-9 for more than six years. As a youth, she was involved in the 4-H dog program, where she participated in obedience, agility, and conformation with her personal family dog. She then trained and worked as a veterinary technician for a few years. But although she loved working with the animals, she discovered that she was less interested in the veterinary field and more interested in helping the many aggressive and anxious dogs she encountered on a daily basis.

Her formal dog training started when she consulted with Steve Walter about her personal dog—the same one she had titled in obedience–who was a dream in the ring, but could not walk down the block without lunging at other dogs or pulling. Upon seeing her dog happily heeling and engaged within minutes, she was hooked on the idea of “no food training” and started an apprenticeship right then and there. Within a year, she was seeing her own clients. Today—and hundreds of dogs later of all breeds, temperament, and size–—Christina runs runs our hands-off training and dog walking programs and both handles and decoys in our protection training. Well-versed and experienced in all behavioral issues, she is particularly gifted at resolving anxiety and fear issues.

Ajase Bui

Ever since she was a child, Ajase has had a deep compassion for animals and a fascination with working dogs that have a trained job they do alongside their people. But it wasn’t until she adopted her current dog Ramona that she started to research different trainers and their training methods. She quickly saw the pitfalls of current popular food-based systems, and was actively seeking knowledge elsewhere. When she found Nitro K-9, she watched all the videos and was blown away by how reliable all the dogs were, what great obedience they had—but also how happily they performed. After a year of intensive studying and supervised practice, Ajase now sees her own clients, both in the Hands Off program and in private training sessions. And don’t let her appearance fool you—Ajase is a precise taskmaster who will get you and your dog working flawlessly! Ajase also walks dogs, which is always a great way to fine-tune your dog’s obedience and keep it sharp!

Greg Houle

For Greg—the newest addition to the Nitro K-9 team—returning to dogs and to teaching feels like a full circle. He grew up with dogs and wolf hybrids, and by his early 20s was informally training all the dogs of friends and acquaintances. But with a family and move west from his native New Hampshire, he pursued other paths, including working as builder. The call of working with animals was strong, however; in 2002, he started a side career as a farrier, which, in turn, led to working on a ranch training 30 wild horses (and a poodle because he couldn’t help himself). Working as an apprentice in the Nitro K-9 system has given him the technical knowledge to add to his considerable animal experience, a process helped by his background in martial arts. He is also learning protection work, including being a decoy, and search and rescue. Greg lives on Whidbey Island where he owns and operates a mooring company, and commutes to Seattle where he works with Steve and runs his own private training sessions.

Crystal Bova
Office Manager

When you call us, you’re likely to speak to Crystal—our office manager extraordinaire. In addition to a long work history as both receptionist and office administrator, Crystal is also extremely familiar with the Nitro K-9 system of dog training. With three German Shepherds—one of whom is a service dog—she started as a client and since 2012, has also worked for us as a dog walker, trainer under apprenticeship, and decoy in protection. Today, she is in charge of keeping us all running smoothly, including scheduling, invoicing, and restocking equipment. Plus, she makes sure that everyone is exactly where they need to be!

Danny Mehiel
Decoy and Dog Walker

Danny is our main decoy in protection classes, with more than three years of solid decoy training and work under his belt. An invaluable member of the team, he also works tirelessly as one of our dog walkers. In his own words, he feels that dogs are his calling—and he loves working with them because it brings him a real feeling of accomplishment to see them learn, work, progress and succeed.




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