About Us

-Melissa Ruthenbeck-Chiaramonte, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, Owner/Trainer

I’ve had a long-standing love affair with dogs going back as far as I can remember. My parents promised to bring a puppy home when I turned 10 thinking I would forget, and when I didn’t, we got Ranger!

I started working with animals when I was 12, volunteering at the local humane society – walking and spending time with the dogs. As I got older my passion for helping dogs evolved into working with shelters and rescues, and earning a psychology degree from Drake University, where I studied animal learning and behavior. After spending time working with veterinarians, rescues and well-respected trainers I became certified by the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers and opened Bark to Basics LLC in 2007. In 2021 I sat for the rigorous, advanced behavior consulting exam offered by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. I’m happy to join the ranks of Certified Behavior Consultant Canine trainers who have been professionally certified to address behavior issues such as aggression, separation anxiety and fear issues (there are only 36 of us in the entire state of California)!  I am also an insured member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Over time I realized many of the dogs in shelters are there because of solvable behavior problems and decided I wanted to dedicate my life to changing theirs. I was the President of Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California for 14 years, where I also provided behavioral evaluations and treatment plans for the hounds in our care, and helped increase the adoptability of my foster dogs with training.

My professional training career began in 2004 and I have an extensive background in rescue work (as well as fearful dogs) and understand the specific needs of newly adopted dogs. In addition to helping with manners and new puppy training I specialize in solving problem behavior, from aggression to separation anxiety and I also enjoy helping adoptive families work through issues and bond with their new family member.

Professional, experienced and certified, I use positive reinforcement based training techniques (treats, toys, praise), paired with learning theory to help you learn how to effectively communicate with your dog so you can live together happily.

I live in Mission Viejo with my husband, Paul, and our two rescued bassets, Wilbur and Mia. In addition to continuing education in training and behavior I also spend time studying canine nutrition, vaccination and holistic care. In my free time I love to travel, bake and spend time on the beach and in the yoga studio!

Need help choosing a trainer?

Rachelle French

I have been working hands on with canines of all breeds, temperament and size for more than 20 years.
I have trained many dogs over the years to get their TDI, CGC and go off to provide affection, comfort and support to people in hospitals, retirement, nursing homes, hospices, etc.

In college while completing a bachelor’s degree I worked in kennels, managed dog daycares, offered pet sitting services and realized I couldn’t get away from the thing I was most passionate about – dogs. I started working side by side apprenticing with different dog trainers until I found my niche in the industry and went off to start my own dog walking business in North OC to help families with specialized dog walks with a training focus. Two years ago I moved to Lake Forest with my dog and husband; and joined the Bark to Basics team to help educate humans and dogs! I strive to help my clients and their dogs form a strong bond through clear communication and structure.

My training is mostly reward, play and structure based. Food and play are huge motivators for dogs as it drives them to want to do things we would like them to do in our lives and don’t require excessive frustration or punishment. I’m fond of clicker/marker training but don’t require you to use one. It is well known that punishment hinders the learning process, and you don’t need to be dominant or “alpha” to succeed!

When not helping clients to enjoy easier lives with their canine companions, I am busy reading, hiking, running, spending time with my pup, Rigatoni, son and husband.

I’m a new mom and recognize the great need to integrate dogs and children properly as well.

I’m also certified in Pet CPR and First Aid.

Andrea Ramos

I was born and raised in Orange County and have been working with animals since 2006. I started volunteering at the local animal shelter at age 15 and later became part of the shelter staff. I learned the basics of animal body language and behavior and how to work with more difficult animals. I continued to work in several animal shelters over the years in Orange County and Northern California. I graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Management.

After college, I fostered a shy, undersocialized dog who became my foster fail named Butters. When I first got Butters he was too scared to even leave the driveway to go on a walk. Now he loves his daily long walks, car rides, and exploring new places. While working at the
San Francisco animal shelter, I fostered another small, fearful dog and realized I still had a lot to learn about dog training and behavior. I decided to pursue further education in dog training and got certified in Training and Behavior Consultation by the Dog Trainer Internship Academy (DTIA). Based off of the Academy of Dog Trainers, DTIA taught me the foundation of force-free, science-based, and positive-reinforcement dog training.

I started dog training with my increased knowledge and education and enjoy helping clients work through behavioral issues and/or basic training with their dogs. I feel comfortable working with all types of dogs and especially enjoy working with newly adopted dogs. I continue to work in an animal shelter and understand the transition from shelter to home and the significance of building the human-animal bond in a positive way.

I am a member of the Pet Professional Guild and enjoy learning more through attending conferences, webinars, and reading dog behavior books. In my free time, I enjoy taking Butters to the dog beach, doing yoga, and cooking new recipes.