Originally from Canada, I spent the majority of my life working with a variety of nonhuman animal species, but began specializing in dog training and behaviour while working at Companion Veterinary Clinic in Alberta, Canada under the mentorship of Jessica Benoit. While working there, I first became a certified professional dog trainer with the Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), teaching puppy classes and offering one-on-one training sessions. Later, while focusing more on behaviour modification plans for dogs experiencing issues of fear, anxiety, aggression (among other behavioural maladaptations), I became a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Professional Dog Trainers (IAABC).
I then moved to Nova Scotia, Canada, while completing my masters degree in Anthrozoology at Canisius College. This is where the Merit Dog Project first came to fruition (formerly Merit Professional Dog Training and Behaviour Consutation). The name change encompasses more than just behaviour consultations, but also my extensive dog related research, seminars and writing related work.
I now live in Christchurch, New Zealand where I am completing my PhD at the University of Canterbury as a part of the New Zealand Centre for Human Animal Studies. My research focuses on the human-dog relationship, humane training and the concepts surrounding canine consent. My research agenda examines dog biographies and individualism while employing a mixed methods approach combining canine cognitive behavioural research and a sociological approach. Since moving here I have become a committee member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers New Zealand and I am an Accredited Animal Behaviour Consultant with Companion Animals New Zealand.
In addition to my academics and behaviour consultation work, I am the Education Initiative Lead and Science Editor for the IAABC, creating and supporting animal behaviour related educational material for members, certificants and the general public. I also write weekly dog training and behaviour articles for K9 of Mine, occasional training and "Ask a Behaviour Consultant" articles for Journey Dog Training, and contribute frequently to other dog-related media such as PetMD. I am also a sessional tutor at the University of Canterbury and run behaviour related seminars for community dog lovers both online and in person.
Certifications and Accreditations
- Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (IAABC)
- Certified Professional Dog Training (CCPDT)
- Accredited Animal Behaviour Consultant (CANZ)
- Accredited Dog Trainer (IAABC)
- BSc. in Psychology
- Masters in Anthrozoology
- PhD Candidate in Animal Studies
It is important that dog training practices are based on the most current science. I pride myself with following the code of ethics set forth by the IAABC and the CCPDT to use the most minimally invasive techniques possible when working with any nonhuman animal. I emphasise the importance of building a strong relationship founded on both consent and communication. I am here to help your dog navigate this human centric world in the most effective and compassionate way possible.
I am happy to help you with anything from building a stronger bond, improving your understanding of dog behaviour and helping you build a compassionate and respectful relationship with your dog.
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