Meet Marissa


Specializing in canine behavior & relationships, inspiring transformation in both 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. 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. 

Luckily for my ego, I started therapy. As I began my journey into self-awareness, I realized just how much self-judgment I carried and that I placed a ton of pressure on myself. 

And even worse, now I was projecting this onto my dog! 

I knew something had to change. I started noticing when I was projecting my expectations onto him. II decided to show up differently and switched my focus from making him wrong to getting curious how we could work together! It was through this this awareness, a training plan and my commitment to Sully that his behavior on leash dramatically improved. The first step is deciding to work together as a non-judgemental partner!    

My Professional Experience

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: Coaching people, Training dogs. Through my life experiences, education and my relationship with Sully, I have developed a unique approach that inspires behavioral transformation for both​ dogs and their pet parents. 

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 addition to my private 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. I have implemented many innovative canine and feline behavior modification programs. As a result of these efforts, I was invited to present at the Humane Society of the United States annual conference in 2014 and 2107, Ontario SPCA’s conference as well as Petfinder’s Adoption Option shelter conferences. 

In addition to that success, I have provided behavior consulting to shelters in Texas, Colorado, California, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. Currently, I am working for the Colorado Humane Society as their Community Liaison offering animal shelters and professionals consulting, education and resources to rural parts of Colorado. I am thrilled to be making a difference.    


Certifications & Education


  • Certificate in Training and Counseling through Academy for Dog Trainers
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed


  • 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