About Collaborative Canines Dog Training


Our Mission:

Happier dogs, happier people

Life is so much more enjoyable with a happy, fulfilled, and obedient dog.

Our reward-based approach to dog training can get you there in a way that will make both you and your dog happier.


Just picture your dog bounding over to you enthusiastically right away when you call them – or giving you their focused attention out on a walk, tail wagging as they eagerly await your next command.


Using science-backed, dog-friendly training methods, we can help you achieve just that.

Less conflict, more cooperation

Life with dogs ought to be fun – not tense and full of conflict. And yet, behavior problems can really put you at odds with your dog and can seriously strain your relationship (not to mention your sanity!).

Life with your dog doesn't have to be a constant battle!

When we work together, we’ll share with you proven, force-free strategies to help get you and your dog on the same page.

In order to create real, lasting change, dog training is a collaborative effort.

It takes commitment from you, willing participation from your dog through positive motivation, plus outside support and guidance you can trust (That’s where I come in!). All of these pieces come together to form the best recipe for success in your dog training journey.

Our Methods

We strive to help families develop trusting relationships with their dog based on kindness, cooperation, and effective communication. We are committed to only the most humane training methods that are backed by science and that that keep learning fun for dogs and people.

F. A. Q's:

We use positive reinforcement training (also known as “force-free” or “reward-based” training). Positive training focuses on rewarding the dog for behaviors we like, and replacing unwanted behaviors by preferentially rewarding more appropriate behaviors instead.


We also make sure that the dog’s relevant needs are being adequately addressed, such as exercise and mental stimulation.


To modify fear, anxiety, or aggression, we work to address the underlying cause of the behavior by changing the dog’s emotional response to their stressors through positive association training (aka desensitization and classical conditioning).


Why positive training?:

The latest scientific evidence suggests that reward-based training leads to the best training outcomes and best supports your dog’s physical and mental well-being. Learn more about why positive training is recommended in the position statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists here

We use rewards (often food or toys) to promote desirable behaviors from your dog.


We do not use nor recommend any aversive training tools or techniques (meaning things that motivate dogs through discomfort, fear, or pain). 


As such, we do not use prong collars, choke or pinch collars, or shock collars (aka e-collars or “stim” collars). If you are currently using these devices, and you are open to a different way, we would be happy to discuss force-free alternatives with you at your Initial Consultation.


When other gear would be beneficial, such as a muzzle, harness, or head halter, we advocate them provided that sufficient training has been done to ensure the dog is happy and loving wearing that equipment before its use.

Because dogs are living beings, and because a multitude of factors determine the pace and results of training, we cannot ethically make guarantees about specific behavior outcomes. However, we can guarantee the following:

  • You and your dog will always be treated with compassion, empathy, and respect
  • We will use training methods that are safe, humane, and intended to make learning a positive experience for all
  • We will guide you towards the most effective training interventions available that are backed by science, not just hearsay or tradition
  • We will be transparent about what to expect from your dog’s training, what methods we use, and how exactly those training methods work

Want more info? Let's chat!

Schedule a free phone consult with our trainer below.

Our Qualifications:

Certified by The Academy for Dog Trainers (CTC)

One of the most rigorous educational programs for professional dog trainers. Academy graduates must pass a 2-year course including four levels of both written and practical hands-on examinations, covering all essential aspects of evidence-based pet dog training, behavior modification, and client counseling.

Pet Professionals Guild Member

PPG members commit to a code of ethics signifying their dedication to using the most humane training interventions currently available. Members pledge to steer clear of aversive tools, techniques, and handling and to choose ethical, force-free solutions that are indicated to be most effective and least harmful to animals by current scientific literature.

NACSW ANWI (K9 Nose Work Instructor-in-Training)

As a ANWI, Mara is qualified to teach official K9 Nose Work classes, which offers a fun scent work activity and sport for pet dogs and their owners. And, Mara is on track to become a fully Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) by 2024. 

BSc in Animal Science from the University of Illinois

University-level coursework spanning the topics of animal physiology, animal learning and behavior, and animal-human relationships.

Our Story:

My name is Mara, the founder of Collaborative Canines. I first fell into the world of dog training when I stumbled into an internship with a professional dog trainer. 

I quickly fell in love with dog training as an avenue to use my background in science to make a real difference in people's lives.

Over the next several years, I worked under several other trainers, enrolled in the Academy for Dog Trainers, and joined the behavior staff at my local animal shelter.


I graduated from the Academy with honors in 2019, and in 2020, I made the big leap – I moved across the country…

...and founded my own dog training business, Collaborative Canines.

Now, I am so thrilled to be able to help dogs and their families near Anaheim, CA to make meaningful, positive changes each day.

In addition to companion dog training, I train and compete in dog agility and K9 Nose Work with my two dogs – husky mix Ciara and working line border collie Booker.


Whether training dogs for competition, or to behave better around the home; My aim is to help you have a more understanding, effective, and joyful relationship with your dog. 

I can't wait to help you and your pup live your best life together.
- Mara Clare VanValzah, CTC, ANWI