Karin Pienaar

DipCABT (COAPE) OCN, CertCAB, CAPBT Practitioner

Karin has been working in the field of animal behaviour and behaviour therapy in South Africa since 1997. She went to the UK to complete her Diploma in Animal Behaviour through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology in 2007. She is a Certified Animal Behaviourist (CAB) with the International Companion Animal Network (ICAN), a qualified Practitioner Member of the International CAPBT, as well as a Practitioner Member of the ABC of SA.

She originally worked for 9 years as a Behaviour Practitioner in Cape Town, but then moved to Johannesburg in 2007 where she started a training franchise company called ThinkingPets. Following that, she and Wendy Wilson established the highly successful COAPE SA and later sold ThinkingPets to Leigh Shenker, who now runs it successfully. Karin is passionate about animal welfare, animal emotions, behaviour, people and education and firmly believes that the best way to make the biggest difference in the lives of animals around the world is by changing how people see and understand them.

After 20 years of consulting, Karin’s focus now is running COAPE International with Wendy and presenting the COAPE Diploma.  She directs all course research and development for COAPE International. Karin is also responsible for bringing new highly skilled experts on board as COAPE Course Authors and Tutors for specialized courses.

She was originally one of only two Practitioners licensed internationally to offer COAPE’s prestigious courses until 2019, when she and Wendy were given the exclusive license to offer COAPE courses on an international basis following the retirement of Professor Neville and Dr Falconer-Taylor. Being asked by Peter and Robert (two well known, established leaders in the field of animal behaviour) to take over the reins of this international Centre of Excellence has been one of the biggest honours of her career.

In addition to frequently appearing on Talk Radio 702/567 Cape Talk and several television programs, she was also part of the weekly “Animal Talk” radio team. Karin frequently contributes to a variety of publications both locally and internationally and is often in the media relating to Animal Behaviour matters. She has appeared as an expert witness in a wide variety of legal cases relating to Animal Behaviour and is actively involved in the Enrichment Research Program between COAPE and captive wildlife facilities, where, among other things, she and her team volunteer their time to work with zoos to develop bespoke enrichment programs to promote behavioural and emotional health in captive animals, using COAPE’s trademarked EMRA and ESTA approaches. They not only provide training for both staff and animals to make husbandry tasks and medical examinations/treatments as stress-free as possible but also work with a variety of institutes around the world, either by collaborating on studies or by sharing results of work done.

Karin is involved in on-going research to bring EMRA and ESTA to as many animal orientated facilities as possible to promote emotional well-being – not only in companion animals, but also in captive wildlife scenarios.

Wendy Wilson

DipCABT (COAPE) OCN, CAPBT Practitioner, ABC Practitioner member, CertCAB, Guild Certified TTouch Practitioner

Wendy has been involved in the training and showing of dogs for over 20 years and started studying animal behaviour in 2006. Wendy now holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology COAPE, as well as a Certificate in Companion Animal Behaviour. She is a Guild Certified TTouch Practitioner, a qualified canine obedience and clicker training instructor as well as being a Practitioner member of both the CAPBT and ABC SA.

Wendy joined COAPE SA and its sister business ThinkingPets in 2007, and together with Karin and Peter went on to found COAPE SA in 2010, which obtained the international licence to run the COAPE courses worldwide in 2019.

Wendy left Johannesburg and a managerial position in the Corporate World in 2011 to concentrate all her energies on COAPE International, and also relocated to the Western Cape, where she heads up the Diploma lecturing team. She has presented an Animal Behaviour course in Namibia and has run numerous short workshops in the Cape. Wendy has appeared as an expert witness in a number of court cases relating to Animal Behaviour. She regularly writes for various magazines among them Animal Talk and Dog Directory.

Wendy is responsible for all the financial aspects and the day to day running of COAPE International. She tutors all the COAPE courses, assisting with the marking and moderating as required.

Wendy does consult when time permits, however only for Veterinary referral cases

Judy Post

MSc (Entomology), CertCAB, Guild certified TTouch Practitioner, DipCABT (COAPE) OCN

Judy grew up with a great passion for all creatures great and small, so after school she naturally progressed to completing a degree in Zoology and Entomology. After her studies she took a break from her books and followed her love for animals, working as a veterinary nurse at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA for a year. She then went back to her studies to become a Research Entomologist, working for the Agricultural Research Council for many years. Her passion for working with animals prompted Judy to enrol for the 3-year TTouch Practitioner’s course in South Africa in 2007.

She qualified as a TTouch Practitioner in September 2009. Judy then went on to complete the COAPE C01 DogWise Stage 1 course with distinction in 2010. She is a qualified ThinkingPets Puppy and Kitten School Instructor and completed her OCN UK COAPE Diploma in 2014. Judy consults regularly and is also the co-owner of DogHub SA, a very successful dog training school and behaviour consultancy in Cape Town.

She is the student liaison at COAPE and handles all student queries, as well as being the tutor for all the AB courses, and a stand-in marker of C01 and C02 assignments.

Leigh Shenker

BADA (Hons)(WITS), DipCABT (COAPE) OCN, CAPBT Practitioner

Leigh’s studies and career path started in the field of human behaviour, working primarily with youth at risk. However, her love of four legged creatures led her to change direction towards all things related to animal behaviour. Leigh was volunteering in shelters and recognised a real need for behaviour practitioners, both for the animals in the shelters and for post-adoption support. She therefore embarked on obtaining her qualification as a companion animal behaviour practitioner through COAPE. Leigh now holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology.

She has completed her clicker training qualification and has a real interest in natural medicine for animals, so therefore grows and sources many unusual medicinal plants. Leigh spends as much of her time as possible involved in shelter work and working with clients. Her dedication to shelter work is reflected in several programmes and systems she has set up, and she is committed to changing the traditional model for animal shelters and improving basic conditions for all animals, as well as assisting families who choose to adopt a rescue. Leigh took over ownership of COAPE SA’s sister company, ThinkingPets, in December 2015.

Leigh currently manages the Marking Department at COAPE, moderates and marks all courses, and tutors the COAPE Diploma

Taryn Blyth

BA (UNISA), DipCABT (COAPE) OCN, CAPBT Practitioner, CertCAB, Cert Early Canine Development (UP), Hills VNA 1

Taryn has been training and working with dogs since 1998. She started her own training school, Kommetjie Canine College in 2009 which caters for everything from puppy socialisation and Canine Good Citizen classes to competitive obedience and trick training.

Taryn holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology. She has worked as a consulting behaviourist for The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) for several years, assessing all adult dogs upon admission, teaching the Open Paw Shelter Programme to volunteers and training the kennel staff to prepare the shelter dogs for the Canine Good Citizen test.

Taryn is on the advisory board of Pets as Therapy (SA). She is also acting chair of Friends of the Dog Walkers, a group that has been instrumental in retaining access for dog walkers to Table Mountain National Park. She has contributed as a behaviour specialist to Dog Directory and Animal Talk magazines and has been the featured behaviourist on News24.

Taryn enjoys competing in Rally Freestyle Elements with her own dogs and has achieved several trick dog titles with them as well.

She joined the COAPE lecture team in 2013 and thoroughly enjoys teaching and working with new students who are as passionate about behaviour and training as she is.

Taryn lectures and tutors the COAPE EMRA Advanced Diploma in Animal Behaviour in South Africa.

Karen Sinovich

Karen Sinovich

DipCABT(COAPE) OCN, CAPBT Practitioner, CCAB (CABI Aus), Pro dog trainer

It was Karen’s determination to help improve the welfare of animals and being asked to set up a puppy program to aid adoptions in a local animal rescue organisation where she volunteered, that led to a total change in her career – from a well-known ceramic artist working in porcelain, to becoming a full time animal behaviourist and trainer.

Karen is a qualified Animal Behaviour Practitioner and is a member of CAPBT, ICAN, the Pet Professional Network and Pet Professional Guild. She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.

She completed the ThinkingPets Puppy Instructor’s course with distinction in 2011 and holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology which she obtained with distinction in 2013. Karen lectures and tutors the COAPE EMRA Advanced Diploma in Animal Behaviour.

As a full time animal behaviour practitioner and trainer, Karen finds joy in helping people better understand their companion animals. From helping people understand what having a new puppy is all about, to helping fearful or anxious dogs better navigate their world, to helping dogs and cats co-exist – each and every animal owner is assured of kind and compassionate assistance based in solid science and training, without fear or coercion.

Karen runs puppy classes on the Atlantic seaboard as well as adolescent and adult dog training classes. Karen co-founded Dog Hub SA in 2013, a successful dog training and behaviour consultancy, with two wonderful COAPE colleagues, which has led her to being able to assist more and more pet dog owners each year.  Dog Hub SA also leads the way in offering workshops to pet owners and by mentoring aspiring behaviourists and trainers in gaining invaluable practical experience.

Karen is passionate about ongoing learning and keeps current with continuous professional development, and is now a qualified Pro dog trainer, bringing concepts and learning through innovative games into the classes she runs.

Dr. Lynne Hepplestone

B.Mus (UCT), BVSc (UP)

Lynne’s love of animals, and passion for ocean conservation, started as a child growing up on an Eastern Cape coastal farm. Qualifying with a BVSc from Onderstepoort in 1998, Lynne is in private veterinary practice in Kyalami, Johannesburg, South Africa. She is actively involved in Marine Conservation, specifically raising awareness of the critical plight of sharks.
She is an accomplished pianist, a certified advanced venomous snake handler, PADI divemaster, and enjoys yoga, scuba-diving, good wine, friends and family.
Matriculated 1983 DSG, Grahamstown
Graduated B.Mus (Hons in Piano) UCT 1988
Onderstepoort BVSc, UP 1993-1998
1998-2002 PDSA (Veterinary Hospital) Mofolo, Soweto
2002- Private Veterinary Practice, Kyalami JHB
Blue Hills Veterinary Hospital
Cat Clicker Training (ThinkingPets)
Advanced Diagnostic Imaging (Ultrasound,CT,Radiology – UP)
On-going CPD (Vet Congress, SAVA)
Shark Conservation Presentations and magazine articles
Dr Lynne lectures part of the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour.

Dr. Tim Hepplestone


Dr Tim Hepplestone qualified with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree in June of 1992 from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria.

After a brief period of working in London, Tim returned to South Africa in 1993 and joined Bluehills Veterinary Hospital in 1995, where he has been overworked for the last 18 years. Tim enrolled for a post-graduate honours degree in internal medicine in 2001. He obtained the degree in 2004.</p>

He holds memberships in the South African Veterinary Association, the National Clinicians Group, The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the Institute of Veterinary Practice development.

Tim has a keen interest in internal medicine including oncology, cardiology, endocrinopathy and stem cell therapy and presents the Behavioural Pharmacology segments of the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour.

Sr. Carla van der Merwe


Carla had a great passion for all animals since youth. After school she decided to study veterinary nursing at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria. For the past 13 years she has been the senior veterinary sister at the Small Animal Medicine department and subsequently moved to the Outpatients/ Emergency ward where she is involved in student training, assisting with procedures and emergencies and ensuring the daily smooth running of the clinic.

Carla always had a special interest in animal behaviour and completed a Technikon certificate in basic animal behaviour in 2002. In 2004 she completed her advanced animal behaviour course. She also completed workshops on clicker training and puppy classes. Carla holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology. She does behaviour consults after hours and assists the Veterinary behaviourists at Onderstepoort with behavioural research.

Educating owners about their pet’s behavioural needs is a huge passion for her and she is continuously looking for opportunities to improve her knowledge through attending CPD veterinary congresses and courses.
Carla lectures and tutors the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour.

Lizelle Britz-Chapman

CAPBT Practitioner.

Lizelle joined ThinkingPets in 2011 and obtained her puppy class instructor qualification in January 2012. She opened her school – Polka Dog School – in 2012 and has been going strong since. Lizelle completed the COAPE CO2 course in 2012 and thereafter enrolled for the COAPE Diploma in 2014.

She graduated in 2017 and has been an active behaviour practitioner ever since. Lizelle is a qualified Attorney: in 2013 she graduated from the University of Pretoria with an LLB and was admitted as an Attorney in the High Court of Pretoria in 2015. She then went on to complete her Masters Degree in Fraud Risk Management at the University of Pretoria in 2018.

Lizelle is part of the lecturing team for the Advanced Diploma.