About Sarah Richardson

Who is Sarah Richardson, PhD?

c-sarahSarah Richardson (PhD, CPDT-KA, CDBC, CSAT) is The Canine Connection’s founder and lead instructor/trainer. She has been professionally involved with dog training and behavior since 1998.

From 1998 to 2001, Dr. Sarah apprenticed with Kay Stephens, DVM, a veterinarian in College Station, Texas, who specializes in dog training and behavior and who was one of the first positive reinforcement trainers in the country. While working with Dr. Stephens, Dr. Sarah taught training classes for teen and adult dogs, assisted Dr. Stephens with her behavior consultations, and absorbed an enormous amount of knowledge from one of the true pioneers in the field. Through this intensive, hands-on experience, Dr. Sarah developed a foundation of knowledge and skills that led to the founding of The Canine Connection after she moved to Chico, California in 2001.

Dr. Sarah founded The Canine Connection in Chico, California in January 2002. She was the first to introduce positive reinforcement methods of dog training, based on a scientific approach to understanding dog behavior, to dog lovers in Chico and California’s North Valley. Since that time, she has helped thousands of dog parents with her positive, progressive approach.


  • In early 2002, Dr. Sarah became one of the first in the nation to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA; Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers), a certification she has renewed every three years since then through active continuing education.
  • Additionally, she is one of only a handful of trainers to also be recognized as a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC; International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants), a certification she has held and renewed every two years since 2006.
  • Dr. Sarah received a Certificate in Canine Counseling, with Honors in 2002, from the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, widely considered the “Harvard” of dog training.
  • In summer 2015, she she completed a 3-month, certification program in behavior modification for separation anxiety under Malena DeMartini (who literally “wrote the book” on separation anxiety) and became a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT).
  • Additionally, Dr. Sarah is a licensed evaluator for Pet Partners, the nation’s leader in setting standards for animal-assisted therapy.
  • She is a Certified Trick Training Instructor with Kyra Sundance’s program Do More With Your Dog 
  • She is also a Certified Dog Walker (which means certified for dog pack management) through the nation’s only Dog Walking Academy

Leading Edge Knowledge

Dr. Sarah has taken behavior courses with the field’s top trainers, including Bob and the late Marian Bailey (the world’s foremost experts in animal training), Jean Donaldson (author of Culture Clash, Dogs Are From Neptune, and Mine!), and many other internationally recognized trainers and behaviorists. She truly loves learning and has completed hundreds of hours of professional workshops and seminars so she can bring the most recent knowledge and techniques to her students.

Click HERE to see some of the educational seminars, workshops, and conferences she has attended.

A Trainer’s Trainer

Dr. Sarah leads a skilled, professional staff that is passionate about helping people and dogs develop fun, energetic, and lasting connections. She’s a “trainer’s trainer,” mentoring many aspiring dog trainers and animal professionals as they develop their knowledge and skills. She is an approved mentor-trainer for CATCH (Canine Trainers Academy) and has several dog trainer apprentices working under her at any given time,

“I met Sarah roughly 14 years ago when I had a fearful German Shepherd pup that I did not know how to handle. I had taken him to three other trainers before meeting Sarah. One trainer told me the dog was useless. One trainer said to put the pup into those situations that scared him, saturate him until he changes behavior, and the other trainer just did not  know what to do with him. When Sarah first met my shepherd she said ” this is going to be one of the sweetest dogs you will ever have”. She was right. It was this dog who changed my heart for the better and helped me begin to understand the canine world. Sarah taught me to train this pup in a positive, reinforcing manner. She taught me about thresholds, how to approach his fearful behavior and begin to change  it,  in turn changing the dogs mind set and fear responses. 14 years later, my third shepherd in tow, she continues to inspire me to learn more about canine behavior and training. I am now studying animal behavior in college and continue to perfect my marker training skills with all my animals.  I strongly recommend Sarah Richardson, and the Canine Connection team to anyone wanting to better understand how animals learn, and how to use positive based training methods.”
Candice Smith
Service Dog Trainer

Research on Human-Animal Bond

Besides her involvement with The Canine Connection, Dr. Sarah is also a full-time faculty member at Chico State and a researcher on the human-animal bond. Her research papers have been presented at national and international conferences.

Click HERE for a list of papers and presentations.

Dr. Sarah’s Animal Family

Dr. Sarah’s own animal family has included many dogs and two dog-like cats. Her dog family has included (not all at the same time) a Labrador Retriever, three Greyhounds, three German Shepherd Dogs, an Australian Shepherd, a German Short-Haired Pointer, an Aussie-Brittany Spaniel mix, a Catahoula-Greyhound mix, a Dalmation-Lab mix, a Norwegian Elkhound mix, and…. a Schipperke.

Dr. Sarah holds a family meeting

Dr. Sarah holds a family meeting