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Dave Stellato

Owner / Dog Trainer Jacksonville, FL.

Dave Stellato is a state-renowned and highly recommended dog trainer.
Dave Stellato
Dave Stellato is a state-renowned and highly recommended dog trainer and behaviorist, known for his ability to bring people and their dogs closer together through the our premier training system. He helps clients remove conflict from the training process and assists them with rehabilitating their dogs through emotional balance and structure.

“If you are going to do something, always do your best!”

Utilizing his background in training people to motivate others through enthusiasm, it came natural to instruct clients on how to motivate their furred friend. The Sit Happens Dog Training team of trainers is recognized for working with their own dogs at public spots throughout Duval and Saint Johns Counties.

Dave is able to get AMAZING results in a timely manner and is proficient with teaching people how to train as they live. This system allows each and every client to maintain a happy dog, with off-leash control under the severest of distractions. Dave coaches people to tap into their dog’s natural instincts and show leadership… then lovership.

With his motto of “if you are going to do something, always do your best”, passion is seen in his training, and he strives to transfer this enthusiasm to each of his clients. Dave remains a student to dog training and continues to grow as a person as well as a trainer.

Spend some time with us and we’ll show you how to “Live Beyond the leash!”.

Jody Hancock

Jody Hancock

Dog Trainer

Jody came to Sit Happens Dog Training/Jax after a long career as a corporate executive, and was thrilled with the overwhelming support from her friends and family when she told them she now wanted to train dogs for a living. They had all witnessed Jody’s love of dogs and her innate abilities to calm and control “misbehaving” dogs in their homes, recognizing this new direction would be highly rewarding for her, as well as for her clients.

Though Jody’s favorite part of corporate work was directing a team of great people, she felt little passion for much of the job; she aimed to do something that would make a positive contribution in people’s lives. Now, as a dog obedience trainer, Jody’s favorite part of the job is experiencing a relieved, joyous dog owner who realizes that he can have a calm, controlled, and balanced life with Dave Stellato’s (owner, Sit Happens Dog Training) method, no matter the circumstances of the moment.

Jody loves canines and thoroughly enjoys the variety offered in the breeds, behaviors, owner
personalities, and home lives she is exposed to in the field of dog training. She shares the owner’s thrill
when, at the very first lesson, their dog is trained to come, sit, and stay in place and the owner then gets
the same performance using the simple steps he/she was just taught.

Jody has worked to meet Dave’s high standards in dog obedience training techniques. It is very common
for Dave or members of his team to be told, “I was at my wits end. I’ve tried other dog training services,
and never once got the same results I’ve just had with you – and this is only the first lesson!” Jody is
psyched to now be expanding Sit Happens to improve the lives of dogs and their owners throughout
Arlington and North Jacksonville.

Josh Jeffers

Head Dog Trainer, Jacksonville, Florida

Josh Jeffers has been training canines since 2010. He has owned dogs since he was a kid, including some of his time in the military. His love for dogs motivated Josh to became a dog trainer in Jacksonville.

His first experience as a dog trainer came with PetCo where he helped hundreds of people develop better relationships with their dogs. He was responsible for over 600 group class sessions during his tenure.

While still with PetCo, Josh joined K9s for Warriors, an organization that provides service dogs to veterans with PTSD and other injuries resulting from their service in the military.

Josh has a passion for giving a “new leash on life”? to rescue dogs and to help wounded veterans. Josh is also a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator in Jacksonville. This allows him to not only train people and their dogs but evaluate and certify their abilities in leash-handling and other dog training skills. To further develop his skills he worked with Mayo Clinic’s “Caring Canines”? Unit, running seminars for their handlers.

Eventually, Josh went into private dog training. He wanted to provide a higher level of skill which dog owners were not getting through corporate-structured programs. He believes one-on-one dog training more effectively addresses the issue of distraction. This type of dog training provides faster and more rewarding results. Individual attention enables him to cater to the specific needs of a dog and the owner. He feels great personal reward throughout the training process.

Josh Jeffers chose to join Sit Happens Jacksonville Dog Training because company owner Dave Stellato employed specialized methods that produced a better relationship for Josh with his own challenging dog. He loves the work he is doing for Sit Happens and is thrilled to be a part of this growing company. Josh is known by clients as patient, non-judgmental and a very good teacher. He gets incredibly fast results using reward-based methods.

The Discipline of Being Disciplined With My Dog

David Meyers
Head Trainer, St Johns County, Florida
Sit Happens Dog Training, LLC

I came to be a dog owner by way of adoption in December 2012. I grew up not having a pet of any kind.

dog training lessons in Jacksonville Florida

The day Dave changed my life, Jan 21, 2013.

When I adopted Riser I had the extraordinary fortune of receiving him from a family that was fostering him. The reason it was extraordinary was because when I arrived to pick up Riser (Adam, at that time) this family provided to me everything you could need for a dog: kennel, bed, bowls, food, and, a Sit Happens dog trainer.

Dave Stellato, Owner and Trainer at Sit Happens Dog Training quite simply turned my world upside down. I just thought I needed to provide shelter, food, love and some walking for Riser. And while this is the case it is the way in which these things are provided that makes my dog who he is today!

Now that I too am a trainer for Sit Happens (in St Johns County, Florida) I see, daily, dogs that lack discipline and owners that struggle and are frustrated. I get pure joy out of helping these people understand why their dog does what it does and how they can make the smallest changes to fix much of it.

The best way for me to explain how I discipline my dog through being disciplined myself is to share a day in the life of Riser and hit some highlights throughout to provide explanation.


Wake up time.
After I wake and go about my morning ablutions I take my dog on some sort of exercise iteration. This comes in the form of biking, running or walking. Prior to departing the house he must sit so that I can fit his collar and attach his leash. Discipline is making Riser sit and what he earns is love in the way of being allowed to go outside! Does he have to sit? No. Will he standstill when I put his collar on? Yes. But why not continue to get one more sit repetition in anyway? Moreover, sitting and forcing him to be disciplined slows that brain of his down so that we can enter the outside world in a calm and focused way and on my terms, not his!


dog-training-jacksonville FL

Riser exercising in the North Carolina snow!

Physical and mental exercise.
Exercising with my dog is so much fun. During our exercise (about 30 minutes in duration) he is allowed to sniff and do his thing at various points along the route. But if at anytime I need him to heel or come I don’t care what he’s doing because I’m commanding him to do these things for good reason: safety, passersby or a loose dog for example — this is the mental exercise. Better still there are points where he is allowed off-leash within my neighborhood. I say this as a trainer that has 100% recall capability regardless of distractions but there are ways for you to achieve this too – like with longer leashes and practice! Sit Happens dog training can help you get there! Once we’re home from our exercise routine it’s time to eat. He has earned the food by way of exercise. Exercise is the hunt for food for domesticated dogs.

Remember that all dogs are descendants of wolves. Wolves have to run and jump and sniff to get to their prey, it is a mental and physical exercise to make the kill. Apply this to your dog too! Make them earn the food in a big way!


dog-training-jacksonville Florida

Waiting to be released to eat; exercise (mental), discipline (down and leave it) and then affection (food)!

During the day.
With three exceptions, Riser gets to make no decisions for himself. The exceptions are water consumption, going to his kennel and barking at any entry point to the house if he perceives something to be a threat (in fact I encourage his barking with huge amounts of praise when he does this). I decide if he gets on and off the bed, gets on and off the furniture, when games start, when games end, there are no toys for him to go get and play with on his own, when he eats is also strictly monitored. No decisions. I am the leader in all capacities but only because I have his respect through controlling the mentioned activities and making it fun for both of us!

More examples: he goes in and out of all doors last (humans first), he gets in and out of my car when I say it’s okay, I decide if he says hello to a dog or a person, I decide when he goes to the bathroom! When I come home and Riser greets me I don’t touch him, talk to him or make eye contact. I walk in my house like I own it! After a few minutes and maybe a trip to the bathroom then I’ll acknowledge him but only if he is being calm – that I’ll reward with love and affection and, yes, even baby talk voice! My leadership is absolute! He knows it and loves it and your dog will too!

Many people will read this with disdain and think, “My God! What an awful person!” There is a payoff with an uncountable amount of zeros after it however! The return on the investment of this discipline is beyond compare and Sit Happens helped me to appreciate it! I have a dog that worries about nothing! This is why when I’m in public Riser doesn’t move after I’ve given him a command, or even none at all, when a peanut butter-covered squirrel runs by. Sure he’ll acknowledge it, and yes, he wants to go after it but he won’t and he doesn’t! I have a happy dog that’s under control because the leadership/discipline tells him – I’m going to take care of it (prey/distractions/threats)! I can literally take my dog anywhere and have complete trust in him to behave because I’ve established that in my house, at my front door, in my driveway and everywhere in public!

Frequently, owners want their dog to wait at the front door and not dart out just because it’s open! This ties back to the things I previously mentioned! For example, because I withhold his food and don’t allow him to free feed I have demonstrated control and asked for his attention prior to putting the food down and eventually this behavior will exhibit itself at the front door and elsewhere in life but only if I demand it (my discipline to follow through). If he wants food, I need a sit and eye contact (attention/discipline). If the door is open he now gives me eye contact, which is a plea to be released but I make the choice at that time and it’s either yes or no – but I can’t do that without his attention, his discipline or my discipline. It must also be a full-spectrum approach! All of these aforementioned things that I make decisions for him on must be on par and done in order to achieve what I have! And, I must continue to do it until the day he dies. Cesar Millan, AKA The Dog Whisperer, is able to go in to someone’s home, where he has never been and make a dog get off a couch. How does he do it? He walks in like he owns the place and is very clear as to what he wants! He doesn’t care what the dog wants to do. He can’t! Or he wouldn’t be where he is today. Cesar never asks where the dog came from (although the owners frequently share) because it doesn’t matter! Should a rescue dog be treated differently than a $10,000 imported Belgian Malinois? No! They’re dogs and both need structure by way of exercise, discipline and finally, affection! Frequently, clients start by saying, “Well Fluffy is a rescue and …” Doesn’t matter! If I ever allow empathy into my brain and begin treating the dog differently I’d never be able to do what I do — help dogs and clients have a great relationship with their dog that they never thought possible. Riser is a rescue too. In fact someone gave up on him because he kept escaping! That sucks! But I can’t worry about that, and I don’t. Riser escaped on me twice. The first time he made it four miles away before someone took him to the vet and got his chip scanned and I went and got him! Never give up on your dog! We owe it to them!

End of the day.
I simply repeat the exercise routine and Riser earns his food yet again! If for some reason I didn’t get in as much time outside with him, due to weather for example, I’ll hide his dinner! He must find it! Riser is a German Shepherd/Collie mix — a working dog breed. I am exercising that part of him which has a drive to work and solve problems. He always finds the food by the way! When it’s time for bed he goes to his kennel and is rewarded with love and affection for doing the right thing!

The reality.
Is Riser perfect? No. Well, almost! He makes mistakes. But I simply turn those in to training exercises! Does he sleep in the bed with me while my wife is away on business? You bet! Does he hang out on the couch and “watch” TV with me? Absolutely! The love and affection that I give my dog is deep and strong! But it is the order and amount in which I give it that makes the difference!

dog-training-chart Jacksonville3

In the end.
Owning a dog is a huge responsibility and takes a lot of work and it can never cease! Simply leaving them to their own devices and letting them get their way will make you weak in their eyes — they are programmed this way. Remember they are wolves and we all have seen how wolves treat the weakest member of the pack!

The discipline of being disciplined has served Riser and me very well. I’m so very fortunate to have met Dave and to now be a part of the best elite dog training company in Northeast Florida, Sit Happens Dog Training!

St Johns County Dog Training

Doing My Part

My name is David Meyers. I’m here to speak to you about Sit Happens Jax and St Johns County Dog Training.  Until 4 years ago I had never had a dog or even a pet. But I was finally in a position to consider one in 2012. The genesis of this consideration was my roommate’s three dogs.

They were amazing!

Dogs do all these very cool things like jump and run and fart and look at you weird! Over time I thought it would be very cool to have a dog of my own!

I put out some feelers to friends of mine that volunteer at the Jacksonville Animal Care and Protection Service’s facility. Eventually they sent me a dog that “looked cool.” I originally thought that I wanted a Belgian Malinois! After some initial research I thought better of that idea and instead chose a mutt contraption named Adam. Adam was being fostered through a rescue group when I first saw his picture on my smart phone. When I looked at him I saw a dog that was completely focused and bursting with energy.  With giant ears, a tan coat and a white flash (chest) I thought I’d go meet him.

Adam was officially adopted on December 31, 2012 and I quickly renamed him Riser! To my great fortune, the foster family that had him insisted on giving me everything that I would need for a new dog. Literally they gave me everything – bowls, bed, food, kennel, poop bags, collar, leash, etc. The thing that most changed my life though, was dog training from a then small company named Sit Happens Dog Training of Jacksonville.

I took Riser home and had not a clue what I was doing, I mean, I knew the obvious – food, water, shelter but beyond that I was clueless.

Sit Happens Jax rung my doorbell about two weeks after I brought Riser home. This elite dog training company literally made my life, and Riser’s, one that I wish on all my clients now. I learned more about dogs in my four dog training sessions than I think in 4 years of university! Trainer: “Tell your dog to sit and walk away like you believe he will!” What a crock right? It worked! “My dog is sniffing something,” I said. Trainer: “Nope, he’s trying to get out of work.” Wow! Dogs are that smart? What else can they do? And so began my journey to start training people and their dogs!

Next thing you know people are calling asking me for help. I joined a working dog club, I’m running and exercising a dog that literally requires no leash and listened to what I said.

Four years later I’m the Head Trainer for St Johns County, Florida. As a result of countless hours of on the job dog training with Sit Happens Jax, self-education and appreciation for what these wolf-descendants are capable of, I am well on my way to helping dog owners have an amazing relationship with their family’s best friend.

St Johns County, Florida is a great place to live and train dogs.  I’ve enjoyed taking Riser to Saint Augustine, to meet vets and boarding facilities and showing people what trained dogs are capable of – yes it is possible! You can do it!



Sadee is Like a Different Dog

Sadee-dog-training Jacksonville, FLSit Happens is one of the greatest investments we have ever made for our dog. The training that we completed over a year ago has not only changed Sadee, our fun loving 85 -pound black lab/pit bull, but has also educated and taught us on how to communicate with her.

Sit Happens is so much more than a dog training company. Dave Stellato, Sit Happens, Owner and David Meyers, Sit Happens Trainer, are incredible. They take dog education to a different and more unique level. Dave and David understand the physiology and physical composition of your dog. During your training, they explain and educate you on why those makeups are so significant.

Having a larger dog and a new baby, we needed an experienced and educated trainer and we found that with Sit Happens. They stand by their mission in providing a program that results in a “happy, confident, and obedient dog, as well as, a happy, confident and satisfied owner.”

My husband and I recommend Sit Happens to anyone with a dog. It is not just for dogs with behavior problems – this company can develop any type of dog to be the best animal it can be! Thank you again, Dave and David, we could not be more delighted with your program.

Matt and Amanda
Jacksonville, Florida


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