Hi! I’m Mary, an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist based in Montgomery County, MD. I started my consulting and training business, Helping Pets Behave, in 2011 after five years of working as an animal behaviorist for the National Institutes of Health. I graduated with a Master of Arts in Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience from the American University in Washington, DC. Following graduate school, I completed a one year research fellowship working with monkeys at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. My coursework in animal behavior started at James Madison University, where I majored in Psychology with a focus in behavior.
I have always been passionate about animals, learning, and how the environment can be manipulated to modify behavior. As a child, the first trick I taught my dog was to close the door on cue. I was fascinated by breaking down what appeared to be a complex behavior into simple parts that my Scottish Terrier, Inky, could understand and easily learn. My obsession, turned full blown addiction, resulted from training my Shih Tzu, Cricket, in Animal Assisted Therapy and obedience. At the time, he was one of the only Shih Tzus showing, exhibiting perfectly executed behaviors no one would expect from a toy breed with a funny face.
After learning the science behind animal learning and behavior in school, I honed my skills with the help of my mentor, Nancy Williams, and earned the prestigious ACAAB certification from the Animal Behavior Society. Since starting my business, I have developed my own style and brand that have exceeded my own high (and at times unrealistic) expectations.
It goes without saying that nothing beats working with animals, but what I love most about my job is teaching my clients. There is something miraculous about changing how someone thinks and feels about their pet. Not only do they get to see their pet’s behavior change in an instant, they finally see their pet clearly for the first time without the baggage of misconceptions, confusion, and often resentment fogging the picture. It’s hard for anyone to live with an animal, human or non-human, that they don’t understand.
When not consulting or training cats, dogs, and the occasional pig, I enjoy jogging and playing Frisbee with my Sheltie, Scarlett, and snuggling up in blankets with my husband, Jeremy.
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