My career with animals began in the horse industry. I was introduced to riding as a toddler, likely because my mom grew up riding (as did her sisters, and my grandmother), and because there were three professional horse trainers on her side of the family. I started my first horse under saddle – Khy, a 3 year old Arabian (that had never been ridden) – when I was 12 years old. After a handful of months of trial and error (and a lot of falling off), we moved my “fairly rideable” horse to a local show barn, where I submersed myself into the world of Arabian show horses. Since then, I have ridden and competed in multiple disciplines (with various breeds), and have worked for some of the leading trainers on the national Arabian show circuit. While training and giving riding lessons in San Diego, I also gained valuable experience working for a mixed practice (large and small animal) veterinarian. Additionally, I have managed all aspects of a large-scale equestrian facility, including boarding and training services, a pasture-retirement program, riding lessons, guided trail rides, and event hosting.
I began working with dogs in a professional capacity at the San Diego Humane Society & SPCA in 2008. It was here, in a shelter environment*, where my interest in animal training progressed into the desire to focus more specifically on behavior modification. I am forever grateful to some of my early mentors (two-legged and four-legged) who taught me so much, and guided me towards the doorway of science-based training and applied behavior analysis.
After moving to Los Angeles in early 2012, I started my own training business in pursuit of greater opportunity. My vision for Cognitive Dogs has evolved significantly since then, partly because I am intrinsically driven towards the continued growth and expansion of my personal and professional goals, and also because the more I learn the more I strive to be better at what I do. My formal education includes coursework in Psychology and a certificate in Applied Animal Behavior (University of Washington), and I continue to expand my knowledge by learning from others, attending various seminars and workshops, and networking with other professionals worldwide.
The animal training industry has made some significant advancements over the past few decades, most notably in promoting the cultural shift towards more ethical, humane behavior modification and training procedures, with mountains of empirical evidence to support it. I have high hopes that by continuing to educate our communities, we will someday see an end to the use of the outdated, unnecessary, and often harmful practices that plague our current industry. In the meantime, I will continue to do my part to facilitate these changes by providing quality training services that are structured within a most positive, least intrusive approach.
*Additional previous shelter-related experience:
Irvine Animal Care Center – Behavior Consultant and Trainer for shelter animals, performed behavior assessments, implemented behavior modification and training programs, trained shelter staff and volunteers on canine behavior, body language, and learning theory.
spcaLA – contract as Trainer on set to assist with and monitor welfare of animals during filming of private TV production.