Muzzle Up! started when Maureen Backman, a dog trainer and business owner in San Francisco CA, wanted to change the stigma trainers and dog owners face when they put a muzzle on their dog.

Through partnering with local businesses, rescues and trainers, not only in San Francisco but across the globe, Muzzle Up! aims to educate the public about dog behavior, safety, and why we don’t need to fear muzzles.

About the Founding Director

Maureen Backman, MS, CTC, PCT-A is the owner of Mutt About Town, which offers private dog training services in the San Francisco Bay Area. Maureen’s particular strength is combining her knowledge of counseling along with her studies in animal learning and behavior to help humans understand how to communicate and work with their dogs. She is strongly committed to using only force-free training methods.

Maureen is the founding director of The Muzzle Up! Project. Through partnering with local businesses, rescues and trainers, not only in San Francisco but across the world, Muzzle Up! aims to educate the public about dog behavior, safety, and why we don’t need to fear muzzles.

Maureen teaches classes at the San Francisco SPCA and is a Mentor Trainer with CATCH Canine Trainers Academy. She is an instructor for DogTec’s Dog Walking Academies in San Francisco and Marin. She also blogs for

She graduated with honors from Jean Donaldson’s prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers, is certified in training by the Pet Professional Guild, and has a master’s degree in rehabilitation psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As of June 2019, Maureen is no longer taking new clients as she has returned to graduate school to continue to pursue her dreams.



Michael Shikashio, CDBC

Michael Shikashio, CDBC, is the past president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), and provides private consultations working exclusively with dog aggression cases through his business Michael is fully certified through the IAABC and is a full member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). 

He is sought after for his expert opinion by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, New York Post, Baltimore Sun, WebMD, Women’s Health Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, The Chronicle of the Dog, and Steve Dale’s Pet World.

Michael is a featured speaker at conferences, universities, and seminars around the world, and offers a variety of workshops, webinars, and online courses on the topic of canine aggression, and founded the Aggression in Dogs Master Course.

Kayla Fratt, CDBC

Kayla Fratt is a biologist-turned-dog-trainer (or is it the other way around?). Kayla owns and runs Journey Dog Training, an online dog training resource platform where she blogs and offers online courses. She also runs the Canine Conversations podcast.

Kayla is passionate about working with dogs that other trainers struggle with - especially dogs labeled "high arousal" or "high energy." She's got a strong background in shelter behavior, applied behavior analysis, and ethology. She's constantly reading up on neurobiology and endocrinology to understand the whole dog as best as possible!

For her "day job," Kayla works with Working Dogs for Conservation in Missoula, Montana. She's the Communications and Outreach Coordinator. You can find her working on conservation detection dog projects around the world, presenting about the benefits of these dogs, and hiking on the weekends. Barley, her border collie, is a working detection dog who also dabbles in herding, agility, canicross, and skijoring.

Kayla is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with the IAABC. She runs the Muzzle Up website as well as volunteering for several IAABC projects.



Deb Jones

Deb Jones is a psychologist who has been training dogs for 25 years. Her academic background in behavioral & social psychology has provided a strong foundation for her understanding of learning and behavior. In addition, her experience with a wide variety of breeds in a wide variety of dog sports and activities has given her comprehensive hands-on experience. Deb has successfully shown her own Retrievers, Papillons, Shelties, and Border Collies in obedience, agility, and rally. She has also worked both in person and online with thousands of students with a wide variety of breeds, issues, and goals.

Over the years Deb has written 12 books and helped to produce a series of videotapes called Clicker Fun back in the late 90s, and more recently a series of DVDs for Clean Run Productions. Her books include Clicker Fun, Focus, Puppy Focus, and the Dog Sport Skills series written with Denise Fenzi. She recently published a book on Cooperative Care.

Deb recently retired as an Associate Professor of Psychology after teaching for 20 years at Kent State University. Since 2013 she has taught a variety of courses, webinars, and workshops online at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Her special interests include Focus training (which she developed with Judy Keller in the early 2000s), helping students develop solid foundation skills through her Performance Fundamentals class, shaping, retrieves, trick training, and her most recent obsession, Cooperative Care for husbandry work.

Jim Gillies, CDBC

For the past 7 years, Jim has worked with clients and their dogs on a wide range of behaviour problems. In 2018, Jim joined a leading animal welfare charity as Behaviour Officer working in post-adoption support in the rescue sector. Jim uses scientific, evidence-based approaches to training and behaviour modification. These include the use of the most up-to-date methods which utilise force-free methods focussing exclusively on humane and non-aversive techniques.

Jim is a qualified and certified Dog Trainer and Behaviourist. He has significant experience in working with dogs with moderate to severe behavioural issues. Following the completion of an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour Management (A.Dip CBM), he then made the step forward in offering behavioural consultations to dog owners. Jim is currently working towards a Graduate Diploma in Animal Behaviour Management (G.Dip ABM) and has recently attained Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant status via IAABC.



Dae Grodin, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP

Dae is the owner and trainer of Dog-Abilities, a professional dog training business, servicing the Northern KY and Cincinnati areas since 2011. She offers private training, behavior consults, group classes, 4H Dog Club classes, board and trains, and dog walking services. Dae is also a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP), and Fit Paws Master Trainer (FP-MT). She also belongs to various dog training organizations, including IAABC and APDT.

Dae’s dog training journey began almost 20 years ago when she decided to train her first puppy, a Boxer. Together, they learned the power of positive reinforcement training. While in college, Dae became increasingly interested in animal behavior. After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a major in psychology, she decided to pursue both her passions for psychology and animal training. This led her to working in boarding, training, and daycare facilities, where she gained knowledge under other positive, skilled, reward based trainers, as well as honing observational skills and hands-on experience with many different dogs.

Since 2004, Dae has been involved with the APDT conference both in planning and on site logistics. Most notably, she received the Ian Dunbar Member of the Year Award in 2015. Currently, Dae is the Social Media Director for IAABC, running their Instagram accounts @iaabcpets (#petsbehavingwell) and @iaabcbehavior, as well as the Facebook Pets Behaving Well group. Each month, photo and video submissions are taken for the Pets Behaving Well Contest, showcasing animals of all species behaving well. Winners receive a $20 Amazon gift card and are featured in the IAABC’s award winning newsletter.

Dae lives with 3 dogs—a Husky/German Shepherd Dog mix, a Parson Russell Terrier, a Border Terrier, a house bunny, and foster Pitbull. Dae’s dogs actively work in search and rescue, therapy dog and crisis response work, nose work, barn hunt, agility, and trick training. When she is not working with dogs, she enjoys hiking and photography.

Sarah McManaman

Sarah is a dog trainer and dog hiker that lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She began working with dogs in 2009, being heavily involved in rescue, volunteering, and shelter work. She started initially working with a pit bull rescue, bringing pit mixes out of Ontario as that province has breed specific legislation in place.

Sarah works as a dog hiker, running Call of the Wild Canine Services. She specializes in off leash wilderness hikes in all the beauty coastal Halifax has to offer. When she isn’t hiking dogs, Sarah also works with Sublime Canine Services, a dog training company. You can find her coaching pet owners in their Puppy Socialization, Basic Life Skills, and Tricks classes. She also offers some private training for families with reactive dogs.

Sarah shares her life with Zephyr a pit mix, and Frankie a Springer Spaniel. They dabble in tricks, disc dogging, rally, and dock diving. But most importantly, they get to spend majority of their time in the woods and on the beaches just being dogs.