Nitro K-9 Founder
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.
Dog Trainer / Assistant Manager
Matt’s passion for working with dogs started with the adoption of his Pit Bull, Steele. In 2011, Matt and his girlfriend brought Steele to Steve to help with some serious behavioral issues. Knowing the reputation of the dog breed, Matt took his responsibility to Steele very seriously. Eight years after Steele’s initial training, Matt’s dedication to working with bully breeds has grown. Matt completed a year-long, full-time, intensive apprenticeship and is now a full-time trainer for Nitro K-9. He was promoted to a managerial position in 2018. Matt also decoys and Steve is currently training Matt to work with search dogs. In his spare time, you will find Matt and Steele camping and exploring the Pacific Northwest in his jeep.
Stephanie found her calling for training animals early in life and has spent most of her life following this passion. At the early age of eight, she started taking horseback riding lessons. As her experience and confidence with horses grew, she became a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. Inspired by the training Steve provided for her dogs, her interest and knowledge of training horses bridged over into the dog world. Stephanie found that while horses and dogs are very different in their nature, the Nitro K-9 training system and mindset was similar – as food, toys, and clickers are not found in the horse world.
Working as a dog trainer at Nitro K-9 has helped Stephanie gain the knowledge to help dogs and humans work together successfully. She feels a great sense of accomplishment and joy as the dogs become calmer and more confident due to their training. She believes a trained dog is a happy dog (and a happy owner!).
Kristy Mae has worked closely with animals, both exotic and domestic, for her entire life. Before becoming Steve’s apprentice in 2019, she served the local community as a veterinary nurse for nearly 9.5 years. Her dogs Thorance, (a Yakima street rescue) and Bebop, the Dobbie, served alongside her at the hospital when needed. They even donated blood! Today Bebop helps Kristy Mae with training Nitro K-9 dogs in Private and Hands-Off sessions. Kristy Mae delights in seeing how the training she provides deepens the bond between a dog and their handler. She looks forward to continuing to master her skills and knowledge as a trainer under Nitro’s vision!
Micah has always had a passion for dogs, especially working dogs. Through his ten-year career managing security teams and working closely with law enforcement agencies, an appreciation for police, military, and personal protection dogs was born. That appreciation quickly grew into a passion for training protection dogs. In 2019, Micah received his certification in Dog Cognition and Emotion from Duke University and a certification in Animal Behavior and Welfare from the University of Edinburgh. Micah recognized that despite his new education, he needed to have hands-on experience with a knowledgable trainer. Micah was impressed with Steve’s work and began his apprentice program. He’s found that working with Nitro K9 allows him the opportunity to combine his knowledge from working security with the world of protection dogs. Reading and studying how to continue growing his craft is a priority. Outside of dog training, Micah enjoys coaching his kid’s sports teams and can be found in the great outdoors, hiking and camping with his family and dogs.