Meet Our Team

Canine Kindergarten Yorktown is owned and operated by seasoned professionals with over 20 years of knowledge in dog care. Our experience shows; we are recommended by local veterinarians and proud to have won multiple “Best of Westchester” awards. Our owners and staff have combined talents in the areas of dog care, obedience training, veterinary medicine, animal welfare and business management.

Would you like to join our team?  Please email us at and we will contact you to discuss our employment opportunities.

Elissa Cohen

Elissa Cohen, co-owner, gained expertise and knowledge of canine behavior and training through her partnership with Tim Thimsen, owner of Paws & Effect. Running a business is a natural for Elissa as she had over 15 years expertise in corporate management and independent consulting prior to founding Canine Kindergarten 11 years ago and Canine Kindergarten at The Park 5 years ago. Formerly, she was a Vice President of a premier financial institution where she held numerous management positions and earned the reputation for excellent leadership and outstanding customer service. Elissa and her husband have resided in the Town of Cortlandt for over 26 years.

Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith, co-owner, has been a registered Pet Therapy volunteer for 10 years. She has a Bachelor's degree in Business Management and 10 years’ experience in Medical Management as well as 10 years’ experience co-owning Canine Kindergarten and Canine Kindergarten at The Park. Lisa is currently on the Board of Directors of Paws Crossed Animal Rescue and has been working hands on in dog rescue, foster and adoption for the past 3 years. Lisa is Pet CPR Certified. Lisa resides in Ossining with her husband and high school sweetheart, 2 daughters, 4 dogs and 4 cats.

Holly Santana

Holly Santana, Director of Training, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) with over a decade of experience teaching group obedience classes, private training and behavioral consultations. She was educated by the Animal Behavior College and has extensive experience in shelter, dog daycare and group settings with dogs. Holly uses the most up to date positive reinforcement training methods; her passion for training keeps her current on new developments in the industry. She emphasizes bonding between owner and dog and is a proponent of the dog’s physical and mental well-being with an emphasis on reading dog body language. Holly attained her CPDT-KA certification, is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. Holly and her husband, Caleb, share their Croton on Hudson home with Indiana, a hound/retriever mix, and Tessa the yellow lab.

Tim Thimsen

Tim Thimsen is both a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Certified Canine Behavior Counselor and is dedicated to improving your relationship with your dog. Tim is a graduate of the Animal Behavior Center of New York, where he was awarded his certification as a Canine Behavior Counselor. He has also earned recognition as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer by the nation’s best known training organization, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Tim has been providing private dog training and behavior counseling to dogs and their owners in the Westchester and Putnam areas for over 15 years.

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What Our Clients Are Saying

“I highly recommend Canine Kindergarten. My one year old Chocolate Lab has been enjoying Canine Kindergarten since she turned 6 months old. As a busy mom, having Brandi well taken care of three times a week has been a blessing. The staff at Canine Kindergarten is wonderful and Brandi looks forward to her days there. Going to "Kindergarten" has also helped to make Brandi a very well socialized dog who is a joy to be around.”
- Michelle N.