Meet Marissa


A dog behavior consultant facilitating transformation, behavior change, and connected relationships for dogs AND their people.

It all started with Sully

In 2007, a 6-month-old black lab mix named Sully walked into my life! I was so happy to have found my perfect companion and even more excited to begin our perfect relationship. 

As Sully grew both older and more attached to me, he became less tolerant of other dogs and started barking and lunging on leash. I felt embarrassed and confused. This wasn't “supposed” to happen to me - I'm a dog behavior consultant and trainer after all.

Over time, Sully’s behavior started to get worse and I became more and more frustrated with him. The heavy realization that my perfect dog did not exist was so sad for me. My ego was disappointed she didn’t get her perfect relationship. 

I took a step back, put on my dog behavior consultant hat and developed a training plan with the hopes of changing my dog’s behavior. The training plan focused on what I wanted Sully to do instead of barking and lunging. I thought if I could control his behavior, we would both be happy! Right?!

The paradigm shift

And, that’s when it hit me! My plan was only addressing Sully’s behavior. What about my thinking or behavior needed to shift? What was my role in this relationship? And how could I work together with Sully on dog behavior modification training instead of making him the one to blame?

When I stopped trying to control Sully and focused exclusively on understanding and connecting with him, how he sees the world, and why he was reacting in certain ways, I was finally able to get to the root of his problems AND develop compassion for him along the way. That is when the true behavior shift took place for BOTH of us!

Marissa Martino, a dog behavior consultant, sits on steps in front of a blue door

Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Coach. Podcaster. Teacher. Speaker. Explorer. Lifelong Learner. Extrovert. Empathetic Listener.

My professional dog training experience

I am a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). I began my career working with canine companions after attending the Academy for Dog Trainers in 2007. Shortly after, I developed my private practice, Paws & Reward. My approach to positive dog training is evidence-based and rooted in applied behavioral science. I incorporate my Six Connection Principles when working with my clients. The process involves you and your dog working together, learning from one another, and transforming simultaneously. 

As a dog behavior consultant, I believe that our relationship with our canine companions can be a window into how we relate to our world around us which allows us an opportunity to expand as individuals. This innovative, personal development approach is designed to help people cultivate self-awareness and intimacy in the relationship with their dog, themselves and others.

I outlined this approach in my book: Human-Canine Behavior Connection: Building Better Relationships Through Dog Training. In The Paws & Reward Podcast, my guests and I stop and reflect on behavior change, positive dog training, the human-canine bond, and the relationships with our loved ones!     

My animal sheltering experience

In addition to my private dog training practice, I have had the pleasure of working for three different animal shelters directing their behavior departments in CO & CA, the most recent being the Dumb Friends League.

For the last three years, I was the Community Liaison at the Dumb Friends League, offering animal shelters and rural CO communities the education and resources needed to expand their animal welfare impact. 

I offer behavior consulting for animal shelters by helping them implement evidence-based, positive reinforcement best practices to reduce the stress and behavior concerns of the animals in their care. I am currently designing a behavior course for shelter professionals in Nevada on behalf of the Dave and Cheryl Duffield Foundation, piloting in the Fall of 2022.      

For several years, I was the Board President of the Shelter Playgroup Alliance, offering education to shelter staff and volunteers to develop comprehensive enrichment programs to support the animals in their care. 

Dog Behavior Consultant & Training Certifications:

Continuing Education

  • 2007: SFSPCA Academy for Dog Trainers
  • 2007: Clicker Expo Rhode Island
  • 2009: Clicker Expo California
  • 2014: Fulfillment Course with the Coaches Training Institute
  • 2014: Fundamentals Course with the Coaches Training Institute
  • 2015: CFAWA Annual Conference 
  • 2016: CFAWA Annual Conference 
  • 2016: IAABC Annual Conference
  • 2017: HSUS Annual Conference 
  • 2017: PCAT Behavior Evaluation Training 
  • 2017: Petfinder Adoption Options - Sacramento 
  • 2017: Petfinder Adoption Options - Albany 
  • 2018: Canine Science Symposium 
  • 2018: CFAWA Annual Conference 
  • 2017: Petfinder Adoption Options - Phoenix 
  • 2018: Shelter Playgroup Summit
  • 2019: Learning and Living with Animals, Dr. Susan Friedman online course
  • 2019: Shelter Playgroup Summit
  • 2019: CFAWA Annual Conference
  • 2020: The Lemonade Conference
  • 2020: Shelter Playgroup Summit
  • 2021: Shelter Playgroup Summit

A black dog stands on a rock overlooking a lake while working with a dog behavior consultant