August 8, 2017
Mark Spivak, CPT’s founder, is a nationally known trainer, behaviorist, and canine researcher. Although he is based out of CPT’s headquarters location in Atlanta, to address complex cases Mark travels periodically to perform on-site instruction in Eugene and he is available on a regular basis for FaceTime video consultations. Mark is also an experienced expert witness in criminal and civil legal cases that involve issues of canine behavior, where he has handled cases from throughout the country.
Mark Spivak has trained dogs seriously for 29 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.
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 presently owns an 8-year old German Shepherd, Marlo, that Mark has trained for many pursuits. Marlo is trained through the Utility level in AKC obedience and has received training in schutzhund tracking, obedience, and protection, human search, and agility.
Mark has also completed an AKC Open (CDX) title with a client’s Labrador Retriever and has 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.
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 has also served as an officer for the non-profit organization Happy Tails Pet Therapy.
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 has 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.
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).
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 26 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, Time.com, RollingStone.com, 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,”
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.
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 Amazon.com 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.
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 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.
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- and in June 2018 CPT expanded to Eugene, Oregon. Over 80 Atlanta area veterinary clinics recommend Comprehensive Pet Therapy for the improvement of pet obedience, household manners, and behavioral problems. Mark expects similar veterinary recognition will soon occur in Eugene.
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. In addition, Mark presented at the Department of Defense Canine Science & Technology Conference at North Carolina State University and attended the Canine Science Conference at Arizona State University and the PennVet Working Dog Conference in Philadelphia.
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.
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 that require research, investigations, expert opinion, written affidavits and/or trial testimony.
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;
• develops leading edge canine anxiety reduction products that spawn from Dog Star’s research;
• was awarded a $500K contract by DARPA to develop a genetic assay for better identifying high-potential service dog candidates; and
• was awarded a $100K contract by DARPA to study the evolution of mammalian brains using diffuser tensor imaging (DTI).