Meet the Trainer

May 17, 2019 TressaFM 0 Comments

Hi! My name is Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie. I am a dog trainer and writer, recently relocated to the Sacremento area. I'd love to help you and your family better understand your dog's behavior, what their body language is telling you, how to set up your home to be a safe space for both dogs and children that live together, and to problem solve any issues you may be having. Here's a little about me and my background:

I graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013 with a BA in Literature, and after doing some traveling and soul searching, decided I wanted to pursue a career in the dog world. I got my start with positive reinforcement training working as a trainer at Unleashed by Petco while living in Southern California in 2015. Shortly after completing the Petco certification program, I enrolled in the Karen Pryor Academy Professionals program, where I earned my KPA certification in 2016 and learned an immense amount modern, science-based animal training. At the end of 2016, I moved back to my hometown and started my own business as a dog trainer and dog daycare provider. I was fortunate enough to be able to build my daycare and training area on my father's beautiful sustainable farm in Southwest Santa Rosa.

In 2018 I became a licensed Family Paws Parent Educator in order to better  assist families in creating  safe and harmonious households with dogs and children. At this time I was also hired by the Humane Society of Sonoma County as the Enrichment Coordinator, where I got to create and implement fun activities and outings for the shelter dogs, to help relieve stress and boredom. I even got my mom (pictured) and grandma to start volunteering! I also began teaching group training classes and workshops at the shelter and decided to phase out of daycare in order to focus on teaching, training, and working at the shelter. Working at the shelter gave me a wider range of experiences working with a huge range of dogs across a wide spectrum of background, breed, and behavior. It helped me improve my body language observation skills, and improved my handling and understanding of dogs in general.

In 2019, my husband received a job offer in the Sacramento area that lead our family into new territory. I was lucky enough to receive a job from the Behavior Department of the Sacramento SPCA.  I am now continuing to work with shelter dogs, as well connecting with pet parents in the Sacramento area that want to teach their dogs new skills, better understand their dogs' behavior and body language, and improve their family's dog aware skills to foster harmony and safety in families with both dogs and children. This is an area I feel is particularly valuable - by teaching parents better dog skills, we can raise the next generations to be safer, more dog savvy, and more compassionate for creatures of all sizes!

My training method is to focus on setting dogs up to perform desirable behaviors, which helps them create positive habits and make them better family members. Having fun helps us learn, so I think training should always feel like a game - both for you and your dog! My goal as a professional is not to teach your dog skills, but rather to teach you and your family the skills you need to work with your own dog. I want you to take the knowledge from our sessions, and apply it not only to the behaviors we discuss together, but to any behaviors you may want to teach your dog down the road! 

I am always striving to find creative solutions for individual dogs and their families, and pushing myself to learn new methods and absorb new ideas by attending conferences and classes, reading books, and collaborating with others in the field. Growth is key, as good dog training is science-based and is constantly evolving as our understanding of dog behavior expands.

I live with my husband, Evan, our husky-mix Koa, our Tijuana rescue dog Muchacho, and our adventure cat, Dylan. When I'm not teaching or hanging out with shelter dogs, you can find me hiking with my critters or reading books.