Mark Spivak

Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer Atlanta

Mark Spivak has trained dogs seriously for over 30 years. As a competitor, Mark has titled his German Shepherds in AKC obedience, ASCA obedience, and Schutzhund. In the process he has received multiple ribbons, plaques, medals, and placements, including a Regional championship and invitations to prestigious national events. As coach of the CPT Competition Team, Mark has motivated and educated numerous CPT clients owning a wide variety of breeds. In the process, they have achieved numerous victories and placements at all levels of obedience competition.

Competition Accomplishments- AKC, Schutzhund, et al.

Mark’s German Shepherd Dog, Akbar, earned an AKC Companion Dog (CD) title and a leg toward her Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title before needing to retire due to a health issue.

Mark’s German Shepherd, Topper, earned the titles of Schutzhund I, II, and III, FH, and CD and was a national level competitor in several sports. During his competition career, Topper won numerous high-in-class and high-in-trial awards in tracking, obedience, protection, and overall score. Topper and Mark won the 1998 Southeast Regional Schutzhund III Championships held in Wilmington, North Carolina and qualified for the 1998 and 1999 USA National and North American Championships. Topper completed his ASCA CD with outstanding scores of 195 and 196 out of a possible 200 and finished high-overall-in-match in an AKC obedience event. In addition, Mark and Topper earned the prestigious advanced tracking title of FH with a score of 92 out of a possible 100 points. Mark has also participated in agility, herding, and KNPV and competed with Topper at the 1997 KNPV National Championship Trial. Topper and Mark also appeared nationally on Fox SportsNet performing agility demonstrations.

Mark’s most recent German Shepherd, Marlo, was trained for many pursuits. Marlo was trained through the Utility level in AKC obedience and received training in schutzhund tracking, human search, other forms of scent discrimination, protection, and agility.

Mark also completed an AKC Open (CDX) title with a client’s Labrador Retriever and competed at the Utility level with another client’s Boston Terrier. In addition, Mark has coached numerous people and multiple breeds to all levels of AKC titles, from Novice through Utility, and many first place finishes.

Therapy Dog Training- Innovations and Achievements

Two of Mark’s German Shepherds have participated as therapy animals. Through Comprehensive Pet Therapy (CPT), Mark founded the first professional Animal-Assisted Therapy programs in the state of Georgia and designed the programs used in the rehabilitation departments at Shepherd Spinal Center, Dekalb Medical Center, and Egleston Children’s Hospital. He also served as an officer for the non-profit organization Happy Tails Pet Therapy.

Media Acknowledgement- TV, Radio, and Print

His work in therapy and obedience has been featured on CNN, Noonday, Living in the 90’s, Community and other television programs, plus WGST, 99-X, and B-98.5 radio. Mark was “The Pet Expert” on the Channel 11 Saturday Morning News and appeared in multiple segments on canine behavior for Fox-5 Eyewitness News, WGCL-TV CBS 46 News, and Comcast TV. Local print media, including The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Sandy Springs Reporter, The Gwinnett Loaf, The Alpharetta Neighbor, and Chai Magazine, and national print media as far away as The Denver Post have featured Mark or CPT.

Animal Actors:  Commercials, Music Videos, and Feature Films

Mark has trained and handled client dogs for several television commercials and a music video. Mark and his personal dogs have appeared in a prominent advertising campaign for a large dog food manufacturer and four feature films, Wayward Son (starring Harry Connick, Jr., Peter Postlethwaite, and Patricia Clarkson), Run Ronnie Run (starring Mr. Show’s David Cross), In My Life (a WB pilot), and 2001 Maniacs (starring Robert Englund).

Canine Neuroscience and Behavioral Research- Publications

In addition, as a research consultant working in conjunction with Emory University’s Neuroscience Department, Mark co-designed the research study and designed the training protocols whereby the Emory/CPT research team became the first group worldwide to publish quality fMRI images in dogs without the use of sedation or physical restraints. Until recently, neuroscientists believed that the objectives accomplished by the Emory/CPT research team were impossible.  To provide quality images subject dogs can not move more than 2 mm in any spatial plane for a period of 12 to 28 seconds and must remain motionless while confined to a small space while withstanding noise that reaches volumes of between 95 to 110 dB.

The groundbreaking work conducted by Emory and CPT achieved coverage in the LA Times,,, and ABC World News Tonight. The team’s resultant publications

• “Functional MRI in Awake Unrestrained Dogs“,

• “Replicability and Heterogeneity of Awake Unrestrained Canine fMRI Responses,”

• “Scent of the Familiar: An fMRI Study of Canine Brain Responses to Familiar and Unfamiliar Human and Dog Odors,”

• “One Pair of Hands is not Like Another: Caudate BOLD Response in Dogs Depends on Signal Source and Canine Temperament,”

• “Awake fMRI Reveals a Specialized Region in Dog Temporal Cortex for Face Processing,”

• “Regional Brain Activity in Awake Unrestrained Dogs,”

• “Neurobehavioral Evidence for Individual Differences in Canine Cognitive Control: An Awake fMRI Study,”

• “Awake Canine fMRI Predicts Dogs’ Preference for Praise Versus Food,”

• “Functional MRI in Awake Dogs Predicts Suitability for Assistance Work,”

• “Jealousy in Dogs?  Evidence from Brain Imaging,”

• “Clinical Findings in Dogs Trained for Awake-MRI,”

• “Fast Neural Learning in Dogs: A Multimodal Sensory fMRI Study,”

• “Awake fMRI Reveals Brain Regions for Novel Word Detection in Dogs,”

• “Decoding Odor Mixtures in the Dog Brain:  An Awake fMRI Study,”

• “Canine Sense of Quantity:  Evidence for Numerical Ratio-Dependent Activation in Parietotemporal Cortex,”

• “2D or Not 2D?  An fMRI Study of How Dogs Visually Process Objects,”

• “The Mouth Matters Most: An fMRI Study of How Dogs Perceive Inanimate Objects,”

co-authored by Mark, were published in the esteemed scientific journals PLoS One, Behavioural Processes, PeerJ, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, and Animal Cognition. In addition, in 2014, Mark appeared in the acclaimed BBC and PBS documentary series Nova, broadcast internationally in the UK and nationally in the USA, and he was interviewed by Anderson Cooper for a 60 Minutes segment on canine cognition.

Additional Articles and Publications

As an author, Mark Spivak co-authored the PLoS One, Behavioural Processes, PeerJ, and Veterinary Behavior journal articles described above. He will imminently publish an outstanding book, “Effective Housebreaking- How to Housebreak Both the Easy and Difficult Dog,” that will be available on and via other national sources. He has partially completed another book focusing on basic pet obedience. For several years, Mark was a monthly columnist as “The Pet Expert” for Loving Pets Products, a respected national manufacturer and distributor of gourmet pet treats and products. In addition, Mark has authored many abstract and full-length articles for the CPT website and he has published many proprietary training articles that CPT uses internally for educating professional trainers and for maintaining quality control when establishing CPT’s corporate protocols.

Notable Presentations

Mark co-presented at the Department of Defense 2014 Canine Science and Technology Workshop in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The conference brought together some of the world’s top researchers and experts in chemistry, biochemistry neuroscience, psychology, animal behavior, software development, hardware development, veterinary performance, security, and training related to the identification and preparation of military working dogs and service dogs.

He co-authored a paper presented internationally on June 26, 2015 at the Canine Behaviour and Genetics Conference in London, England.  The conference brought together some of the world’s most esteemed researchers and experts in canine genetics, ontology, ethology, behavior, and veterinary medicine.  Mark also presents locally at area dog clubs and organizations.

In June 2016, Mark wrote and presented a well-received international webinar entitled, “Innovative Canine Neuroscience.”  The webinar discussed how fMRI and behavioral research is improving the ability to select dogs for working roles, match pets with families, train working and pet dogs, detect illnesses, and improve our pets’ overall quality of life.

In Sep 2017 and Oct 2018 Mark was a featured presenter at the Animal Law Symposium hosted by Animal Law Source and the Animal Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association.  Symposium attendees voted Mark’s 2017 speech as the most popular presentation of the conference.

In Sep 2017 Mark spoke to the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses.  Mark’s presentation covered the advantages of personalized service dog programs in improving patient quality of life.

In December 2018 Mark was a featured panelist at the 5th Annual International Animal-Computer Interaction Conference held at Georgia Tech University.  The panel, which in addition to Mark included notable experts in dolphin, primate, and rodent behavior, focused on bioethics issues in research.

In August 2019 Mark was one of two keynote presenters at the AKC US Detection Dog Conference.  The conference was attended by over 400 persons from the military, law enforcement, government, the scientific community, and the fields of veterinary medicine, dog training and dog breeding.  Mark presented “Decoding Dog Brains- Practical Applications to Improve Training Outcomes.”

In October 2019 Mark spoke at the International Canine Science Conference hosted by Arizona State University.  Mark presented “What We Learned- Practical Applications of Canine fMRI for Researchers, Veterinarians, Behaviorists, Trainers, and Pet Owners.”

Education- Scholastic and Industry

Prior to starting CPT, Mark received a Bachelor of Science in Economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley. Mark’s reputation and accomplishments have grown CPT from a one-person company to a company of multiple elite trainers who have become the most respected group of pet trainers in the Atlanta area. Over 80 Atlanta area veterinary clinics recommend Comprehensive Pet Therapy for the improvement of pet obedience, household manners, and behavioral problems. As President of CPT, Mark has trained or managed the training of over 50,000 pet dogs. He coached the CPT competition team, which has taken numerous first place finishes, and has coached CPT’s Georgia Force Black and Blue team, the nation’s first football mascots to retrieve the kicking tee during Arena Football League games. Still, rather than resting on his laurels, Mark continues expanding his knowledge by attending seminars and personal coaching sessions with world class trainers and behaviorists, including Prof. Ian Dunbar, Brian McGovern, Gerianne Darnell, Dr. John Wright, Dieter Meyer, Jan Timmerman, Dean Calderon, Gary Hanrahan, Joel Silverman, and Appi and Robert Kamps.

Hobbies and Interests

When not working at CPT, Mark is a voracious reader and trivia aficionado who is also an exercise enthusiast, tennis player, and a USA Wrestling “bronze certified” wrestling coach. For seven years Mark coached the Alpharetta Junior Raider Wrestling program, including a three season stint as Head Coach.

CPT Executive and Training Roles- Plus Expert Witness Work

Mark is the President of CPT and in addition to his administrative duties teaches Private Lessons, In-Home Private Lessons, and Group Classes. He also performs Expert Witness Services for criminal and civil cases involving dog behavior, where attorneys or clients require research, investigations, consultation, expert opinion, written affidavits and/or trial testimony.  Mark is nationally recognized for his expertise, having participated in cases in 14 different states.

Co-Founder of Dog Star Technologies, LLC

Furthermore, he continues to function as a research consultant for Emory University’s Neuroscience Laboratory and along with Prof. Greg Berns co-owns, Dog Star Technologies.  Dog Star

• conducts fMRI service dog and working dog research for the military;

• performs canine neuroimaging and neuromarketing research for private corporations;

• designs and implements behavioral research on canine cognition, emotions, sensory perception, receptive communication, and inhibitory control;

• designs and implements research aimed toward better identifying and matching dogs for various working roles;

• designs and implements research that focuses on improving training protocols for both pet and working dogs;

• tests and validates products and product concepts via behavioral studies and/or empirical fMRI research;

• has planned the development of leading edge canine anxiety reduction products that spawn from Dog Star’s research;

• was awarded $1.1 million of contracts from DARPA to develop an fMRI biomarker algorithm for identifying high probability service dog candidates;

• The resultant algorithm had a 94% positive predictive value and a 67% negative predictive value.

• Moreover, findings from the fMRI research have been integrated within CPT’s field tests for evaluating service dog candidate animals and litters.

• was awarded a $500K contract by DARPA to develop a genetic assay for better identifying high-potential service dog candidates;

• Initial results were promising and the project is now in a Phase-2 validation stage;

• and was awarded a $100K contract by DARPA to study the evolution of mammalian brains using diffuser tensor imaging (DTI).


Mark Spivak and Marlo- Dog Training
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Teaching the Front and Finish Commands
Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Teaching the Heel Command
Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Teaching the Stand for Examination


Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Teaching the Dumbbell Retrieve
Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Teaching the Directed Retrieve
Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Practicing the Retrieve Over the High Jump


Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Practicing the Utility Go Out and Sit Command
Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Practicing the Open Broad Jump
Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer
Mark Spivak and Marlo- Practicing the Utility Scent Articles

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