Dr. Megan E. Maxwell, Ph.D.

Owner | Pet Behavior Change
Blacksburg & Roanoke, VA

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Dr. Maxwell has been working as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) since 2002. Over the years, Dr. Maxwell has worked with hundreds of families whose cats or dogs exhibit serious, often dangerous, behavior problems. Whether your family pet is exhibiting serious behavior problems or requires just a bit of "fine-tuning," Dr. Maxwell can provide you with the highest standard of behavioral care available.

Dr. Maxwell currently serves as a member of the Board of Professional Certification for the Animal Behavior Society's Applied Animal Behavior certification program. She has held multiple leadership positions for the International Association for Behavior Analysis' Applied Animal Behavior Special Interest Group and just completed her term as this organization's Applied Animal Behavior Research Area Coordinator. Dr. Maxwell is also an affiliate member of, and the blog writer for, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

Dr. Maxwell is an international speaker who has lectured on many topics in animal behavior and training. In addition to her work as a Visiting Assistant Professor and lecturer in the university setting, she has provided educational seminars to various pet professionals, including veterinarians, dog trainers, shelter staff, and kennel clubs. From 2008-2010, she wrote a pet behavior column, Pet Peeves, for the Centre Daily Times in State College, PA. Her training and behavior advice has been featured in West Virginia's Daily Athenaeum and the Dominion Post; central Pennsylvania's State College and PAWSitively Pets magazines; Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy magazines;  the Popular Puppies magazine series; and on PetMD.com. She has presented webinars through CAABChats.com  on child safety with dogs and on owner compliance with behavior plans. Dr. Maxwell currently writes the pet behavior advice column, The Teacher's Pets, for the Roanoke Times. 

There is much work still to be done in educating the public on canine and feline learning and behavior, and Dr. Maxwell remains dedicated to enhancing the welfare of pets through individual and community education.

Dr. Maxwell and her husband reside in Blacksburg, VA. They share their home with their two children, a Sheltie mix named Addy, a Plotthound mix named Amelia, a yellow-collared mini macaw named Sappho, and two Madagascar hissing coakcroaches named Willow and Mr. Hissy Pants. 

What is Dr. Maxwell’s educational/academic background?

Dr. Maxwell earned her Ph.D. in Psychology in 2008 from West Virginia University (WVU)'s Behavior Analysis program. While there, she studied under the mentorship of Dr. Kennon A. Lattal, Centennial Professor of Psychology and then Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Her area of specialization is Behavior Analysis, which emphasizes the impact of environmental context and consequences on human and animal learning, and her particular interest has always been in the application of this body of knowledge to pet behavior and training. 

Dr. Maxwell's research experience includes investigating how dogs learn. In particular, she has examined the effects of signaled and unsignaled delays to reinforcement on canine learning and behavior, methods for reducing responding by dogs using extinction, noncontingent reinforcement, and the differential reinforcement of other behavior, effects of free feeding on food guarding in dogs, and variables impacting owner compliance with pet behavior change protocols. 

Megan Maxwell has completed the following coursework relevant to her work as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist:

  • Brain-Behavior Relationships

  • Learning and Motivation

  • Neuroanatomy/Neurophysiology

  • General Biology

  • Experimental Analysis of Behavior

  • Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Behavior Theory and Philosophy

  • Single-Subject Research Methods

  • Verbal Behavior

  • Performance Management

  • Behavior Analysis Practicum

  • Stimulus Control and Memory

  • Behavioral Pharmacology

  • Reinforcement and Punishment

  • Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior

  • Ethical Issues in Psychology

Typically teaching courses in animal behavior and learning, Dr. Maxwell has served as an Adjunct Instructor at Temple University, a Visiting Assistant Professor at West Virginia University, and a Lecturer in Psychology at Pennsylvania State University. In these roles, she has taught the following courses:

  • Introduction to Behavior Principles

  • Experimental Analysis of Behavior

  • Research Methods in Psychology

  • Direct Applications of Behavioral Principles

  • Social Psychology

  • Field Experience in Psychology

  • Applied Animal Behavior

  • Contemporary Issues in Behavior Analysis

  • Biological Foundations of Behavior

Access Megan Maxwell's curriculum vitae here

What is Dr. Maxwell’s pet training/experiential background?

Dr. Maxwell's interest in pet behavior began while she was volunteering at animal shelters as an undergraduate. She saw many pets being relinquished to animal shelters - and often euthanized - because of behavior problems. She became dedicated to a career in psychology with a focus on understanding how animals learn and a goal of helping families keep pets in their homes through a better understanding of how to teach their pets and reduce pet behavior problems.

Dr. Maxwell began working with pets with behavior problems in 2000, under the tutelage of Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Dr. Andy Lattal. She received her certification from the Animal Behavior Society as an Applied Animal Behaviorist in 2002 and has been providing private, in-home consulting to pet owners ever since. She also has taught puppy kindergarten classes and adult dog obedience classes.

Dr. Maxwell has successfully addressed the full range of common and uncommon canine and feline behavior problems including aggression, fearful behavior, self-injurious behavior, destruction, house soiling, excessive barking, repetitive behavior, and many more. She also works regularly with families seeking basic obedience training for their puppies or adult dogs. Her yearly caseload is typically comprised of about 90% canine cases and 10% feline cases. She also has worked with families of parrots with behavior problems.

Consider registering for one of Dr. Maxwell's guest webinars. Both are part of the new Chats with CAABs series. This series presents professional discussions among Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists about timely, useful, controversial and foundational topics in the field of pet behavior and training. 

Practicalities and Protocols for Safe Relationships Between Dogs and Kids

Helping Pet Owners Follow Through with Behavior Intervention