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Nitro K-9 Team

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Steve Walter

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.

Our Staff

Jessica Z

Jessica Zylstra

Office Manager – Scheduling Guru – Kennel Operator @ Nitro Board & Train Program

Hi, I’m Jessica and I’m extremely enthusiastic about animals.  We have horses, dogs, goats, and chickens on our farm property in Snohomish. I feel fortunate to work at Nitro K-9 to not only be around dogs all day but to take care of clients’ dogs on our property for board & train and boarding programs. I also try to make magic happen with our busy schedule and work with our amazing clients. Steve’s dog training saves dogs every day and I’m so proud to be a part of what he has created. I have two busy teenage daughters that play soccer and barrel race.  My passion for fitness and health has led me to compete in many races such as triathlons, so we are a very on-the-go family.


James Bowman

Protection Dog Decoy / Trainer

James joined the Infantry in 2006 and served in several combat units deployed to Iraq, Afgan and Africa. He also served in The Old Guard providing burial services to our nation’s fallen heroes.  James medically retired in 2013 due to injuries.  He got into dog training and bite sports by accident in early 2017.  He fell in love with protection sports and hasn’t looked back since. He says he lives for the bite and loves helping dogs develop into fine-tuned destruction machines.

Heather Berry

Heather Berry

Senior Trainer – Home Visits

I began working with animals professionally 6+ years ago at a nonprofit animal rescue. I cleaned kennels and worked alongside the facility’s trainer which is where I decided dog training was going to be my profession. Watching the heart-breaking cycle of dog after dog being adopted and then shortly returned, I wished there was something more I could do to help. That opportunity presented itself when I met a dog with behavioral issues that I could help. I adopted Billie (black dog, pictured left) and she’s been beside me throughout my journey to become a great canine professional. I’ve now dedicated my life to helping as many dog owners as possible. I understand their struggle because I was once the dog owner at the other end of the leash of a barking, pulling, and lunging dog.

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