Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner: KPA-CTP

Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge & Skills Assessed: CPDT-KSA*

Certified Dog Behavior Consultant: CDBC*

Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed: CBCC-KA*

Certified Humane Education Specialist: CHES*

Certified Fear Free Animal Trainer

*I am the only canine professional in the state of Iowa who holds these credentials.

Professional Memberships

APDT: Professional Premium Member

PPG: Canine Training Professional

IAABC: Shelter Behavior Affiliate

APHE: Member


University of Utah: Honors BFA Acting, Minor Anthropology

Emerson College: MA Theatre Education

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary: Dogtown Intern

I hold an Honors BFA in Acting from the University of Utah and an MA in Theatre Education from Emerson College.  The fields of performance and animal training both require careful observation and thoughtful interpretation of behavior, creative problem solving, and the ability to view a given situation from multiple perspectives.  Training is a highly physical skill requiring spatial awareness and precision, and my background in dance and creative movement proves very useful in this regard.  My lifelong interest in primatology and my minor in anthropology enhance my understanding of canine evolution and ethology, interspecies relationships, and comparative cognition.

I have fifteen years of experience as a performing arts educator, including parent-and-child classes for infants and toddlers, performing arts classes for preschool and primary children, arts integration projects in elementary classrooms, theatre summer camps, and directing, choreographing, and performing in children's productions.  In Massachusetts I held a state teaching license as a theatre instructor.  My work with children prepared me to apply my knowledge of development and learning theory to the enrichment and education of our canine friends.

I am passionate about companion animal welfare, and I volunteer with dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.  Previously, I volunteered with the ARL's humane education department, TheraPets program, and PAWS program at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. I am a former assistant trainer for the Puppy Jake Foundation, and I’ve been a contributing writer for the Pet Professional Guild’s BARKS magazine. I was chosen as a featured trainer for Karen Pryor Academy, and a featured trainer for the Pet Professional Guild. During 2019, I’m engaging in continuing education with Karen Pryor Academy, Pet Professional Guild, Oregon Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, Ken Ramirez, Chirag Patel, Trish McMillan & Michael Shikashio, and doctors Jessica Hekman & Amy Cook.

My shih-tzu poodle Marmalade is the official Plucky Paws Therapy Dog.  Marmalade holds CGC and CGCA titles, and earned therapy dog certification at the national and local levels. My therapy visitation with Marmalade initially inspired me to pursue a career involving both dogs and kids.  To learn more about Marmalade’s story as a rescue from Puerto Rico, visit her website by clicking on the link below.