Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner: KPA-CTP

Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed: CPDT-KA

Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed: CBCC-KA

Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant: ACDBC

Certified Humane Education Specialist: CHES

Professional Memberships

Ames Chamber of Commerce: Gold Member

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 abilities as a former dancer prove very useful.  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 working with children, including private nannying, parent-and-child classes for infants and toddlers, performing arts classes for ages 3-12, workshops and story times at libraries, arts integration 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. In addition to my work with dogs as a trainer and behavior consultant, I am the only dog pro in Iowa who is also a Certified Humane Education Specialist.

I am passionate about companion animal welfare, and I volunteer with adoptable dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the PAWS program at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women.  Previously, I volunteered with the ARL's humane education department and TheraPets program, and I trained with service dog candidates for the Puppy Jake Foundation. During 2019 I am engaging in continuing education with Karen Pryor Academy, Pet Professional Guild, Oregon Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, Ken Ramirez, and Chirag Patel. I am a contributing writer for the Pet Professional Guild’s BARKS magazine. I was chosen as the featured trainer for Karen Pryor Academy in August 2018, and the featured trainer for Pet Professional Guild in November 2018.

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.  Marmalade frequently attends promotional events and Plucky Kids educational programs, so check the Event Calendar for her upcoming appearances. To learn more about Marmalade’s story as a rescue from Puerto Rico, visit her website by clicking on the link below.