Cindy Bruckart

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Cindy Bruckart is a dog trainer in the Portland, OR metro area.  

She runs Regarding Rover, LLC offering private training and board & train programs.  

She is also the Play Group Coordinator and Trainer at Multnomah County Animal Shelter, which is an open-admission, Open Paw, county shelter.  

She specializes in puppy and adolescent dog training with a focus on training during off-leash play.

Cindy is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, a Certified C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator, blogger, podcast host and public speaker.  She is also a proud, professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Cindy is currently traveling the country to speak about shelter play groups in her seminar Beyond Socialization - Using Shelter Play Groups for Training & Assessment.

Blog posts by Cindy Bruckart

Distractions Happen

If you're a student of dog training, you're probably well aware of the oft suggested protocol of teaching new behaviors in a low distraction environment and slowly adding in distractions until the behavior becomes reliable. This is, of course, the easiest way for a dog to learn what you'd like them to do and to be able to do that thing regardless of distractions. However, in the real world, distractions happen.

To avoid them completely until the dog is "trained" is simply unrealistic.  

In my training classes, there are times when I'm teaching my students how to teach their dogs to be calm and

Casual Dog Training

I am not a clicker trainer, nor do I always use a verbal behavior marker.  Most of the time, when a dog does what I’d like the dog to do, I simply give the dog a reward.  It may be a treat, a toy or access to something the dog wants like going outside or getting a good tummy rub.  

I rarely set up formal training sessions with dogs.  Since I’m teaching every day manners to dogs, I prefer on the job training.  When dogs are present, regardless of what I’m doing, I’m also aware of what they are doing.  I generally have three choices in response to their behavior at  the moment.

 

Reward it

 

Why are You Teaching Your Dog That?


So, there are some words, phrases and cues that I choose not to use with dogs.  One of those is, “Look at me.”  I don’t say it and I don’t teach it.  Of course there’s nothing wrong with it, but I find it redundant and unnecessary in my training, so I don’t use it.

If I want to get someone’s attention, I generally say their name.  The expectation is that if I say someone’s name, they will respond by looking at me and at that point I can say whatever it is I need to say.  If I say someone’s name and they don’t respond, I can assume they either didn’t hear me or they are ignoring...

If I Should Die Before I Wake

Tell me about your plan for your dogs should something happen to you.  Not what you think or hope will happen, but your actual plan.  Who will take them?  Will that person keep them or be charged with the responsibility of rehoming them?  Do you have a dog that could not be rehomed and might have to be euthanized instead?  Have you thought about these things?

I recently and quite suddenly lost a friend.  She was only 43 years old and by all appearances perfectly healthy.  She died of a pulmonary embolism.  She had two dogs, one of them is blind.  There is no way that she or anyone else

I'm Mean to Dogs

I was working with a dog at the dog park the other day. We were near the dog park, but not inside the play area.  We walked around practicing loose leash walking, eye contact, the “let’s go” cue, sits and stays.  While working close to the dog park fence, a woman asked me if the dog was friendly with other dogs.  I explained that he was and that he routinely went to dog daycare and to dog parks.  She then asked if he was going to come in to play when he was done working.  I told her that he wasn’t.

“Oh, you’re so mean!” she told me.  I laughed and went along my way, thinking about all

The Impact of Importing Dogs

It's become quite popular in many areas to move dogs from one shelter to another in the hopes that they will have a better chance to be adopted.  The original idea of shelter transfers was a good one, I believe, when done right.  In my opinion, doing it right means that shelters and rescues are helping one another to better serve their communities by trading animals, giving long time shelter residents new exposure in a new location or transferring a dog with special needs (health or behavioral) to an organization with the resources to meet those needs.

Sadly, this original idea has morphed

The Indoor Dog Ideal

If I said to you that I worked with some dogs whose owner makes them live outside, what is your first thought?  I know mine is usually dirty, parasite laden dogs who bark at strangers and don’t care much for being petted.  That’s because those are the outdoor dogs I grew up around.

Some imagine that an outdoor dog is sad and lonely, constantly hoping for the chance to come inside.  Some imagine a dog on a chain whose world is small and unfulfilling.  Depending on where one lives, you might think of the shivering, wet dog who has no shelter while its owners are toasty warm inside.

 

Newsflash: Chicken Jerky and Sweet Potato Treats are NOT Dangerous

Serioulsy.  I’ve had it up to here with the misleading headlines, stories and FB comments about chicken jerky and sweet potato treats for dogs.  Neither food is dangerous to your dog.  Neither food will kill your dog. Dogs have been eating chicken and sweet potatoes for years.  They are not toxic.

Yes, there are many dogs who have gotten sick and died due to eating treats that happened to have these ingredients, but if you read the actual facts you will find the trouble lies in ingredients from China and manufacturing practices in China.  In fact, no one is really sure what the real problem is, as some have found traces of chemicals and plastic residue in some of these treats. 

What they do know is that there have been no cases of dogs getting sick or dying from treats with these ingredients that are made from American (or any other country besides China) ingredients and manufactured in America (or any other country besides China).

 

What's Your Preference? Dogs or Humans?

It’s become more and more expected and accepted that dogs are thought of as part of the family.  They live indoors with us.  We celebrate their birthdays.  We deeply grieve their deaths.  I feel this way about my dogs and suspect that you do, too. 

What I don’t feel is the popular opinion that dogs are better than people.  I hear people say often that they like dogs more than people or they prefer the company of dogs.  Sure, there are some folks I would be less inclined to hang out with, but to prefer dogs over humans seems odd to me.  I saw a post on FB yesterday that said this:

Why I Prefer Dogs:

Dogs aren’t racist

Dogs don’t discriminate

Dogs aren’t evil

Dogs don’t start wars

Dogs aren’t sexist

Dogs don’t lie

Dogs aren’t hypocrites

Dogs don’t incite hatred

Dogs aren’t HUMAN

 

 

Everyone Benefits from Shelter Play Groups

One of the barriers to improving the welfare of animals in shelters is a lack of resources.  This can mean a lack of volunteers, staff, funds or space.  For every idea that a shelter has for improving their program there is a list of required resources to make it happen.

Often, this is the main reason that the idea of starting a play group program is put on the back burner.  What a lot of people might not be able to see, however, is that the resources put into a shelter play group program can actually result in an increase of overall resources if it’s done right.

 

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