Sit. Stay. Heal? Can Training Your Dog Help You Become a Better Person?

Marissa Martino, CTC, CPDT – KA, owner of Paws & Reward Dog Training and author of Human/Canine Behavior Connection, believes that training your dog can teach you about yourself. According to Martino, her book contains “a systematic approach of how a dog learns, how we modify his behavior, and how we can take those concepts and generalize them into your life.” In the author’s case, this has meant realizing her dog’s anxiety and restlessness is a reflection of her own inability to slow down. “When I show up ungrounded, scattered, he is very much the same,” said Martino. However, through utilizing the principles she outlines in her book, Martino has seen a big shift. “I look at him now as a reminder of who I want to be. He reminds me to be patient. He reminds me to slow down. He reminds me to play. He reminds me to not be so serious.”   Martino describes her book Human/Canine Behavior Connection as teaching the reader “how you can learn and heal and grow as a person through the process” of training your dog. From the opening pages, Martino’s book has a conversational tone that reflects how deeply dedicated she is to relationship building between humans and dogs. Throughout the workbook, she talks about Sully, her friendly, goofy best friend to whom she is deeply connected. Sully is, of course, a dog and Human/Canine Behavior Connection is dedicated to this champion of a pup.   Each chapter contains: a narrative section explaining the principle for training, exercises for your dog, and exercises for yourself. Each principle relies on Martino’s original training and behavior modification approach, which shares the name of the book: Human/Canine Behavior Connection. There are 10 chapters that outline her approach to training and how to apply those principles to your relationship with your dog, as well as your wider life. Martino isn’t afraid to get personal, often sharing anecdotes about successes and failures in her own training with Sully. During our interview, Martino explained why: “He is a reflection to me of all my great qualities and all my negative qualities.”   Martino has an ambitious goal for her book and her training approach. She wants every dog owner to “understand that dog training, that the way in which you’re interacting with your dog, can be a way of being” in all aspects of your life. While there are a lot of trainers and approaches that rely on the relationship between the dog and their human to modify behavior, Martino believes her book is the first of its kind. “It’s like I smashed a dog training and personal growth book together,” said Martino.   When asked how she came up with the concept for her book and training approach, Martino shared, “It was my therapist that made the correlation [between dog training and] my behavior.”   Human/Canine Behavior Connection is a book you can revisit time and again while training your dog. It makes a great companion to any relationship-based training you may already be doing with your dog and helps you take it further, bringing the lessons you learn from your dog into all the relationships in your life.   To learn more and purchase Human/Canine Behavior Connection, visit Martino’s website:  

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