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

Dog Park & Dog Daycare Safety Starts with YOU

There are several variables that make up a great dog daycare or a fantastic dog park.  However, there's really only one variable that is completely under your control as an individual dog owner.  Regardless of the daycare or dog park quality, the decision to bring your dog into the mix is up to you.

If you know that your dog's social skills are questionable, it doesn't matter how great the dog park is before you get there, it is going to be less so when your dog arrives.  If your dog doesn't have a reliable recall from playing with other dogs, then you are going to be helpless in controlling your dog's behavior in a play environment.

It isn't fair to other dogs and owners to walk into a dog park not knowing how your dog will do, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.  THAT is how problems arise.  It is also unfair to send your dog to a dog daycare for an evaluation with the same kind of wishful thinking.

 

What's It All For?

When you’re constantly preaching about the importance of bite inhibition, puppy training, socialization and getting dogs through that crazy-making adolescent period, it’s easy to forget the reason for all this work.  In fact, as a trainer, it sometimes feels like all the dogs in the world are either a disaster or a potential disaster.  I start to wonder why anyone in their right mind would even have a dog!

While contemplating this feeling of hopelessness this morning, I suddenly realized how quiet it was in my backyard.  As I sat on the deck sipping my coffee, I looked around to see what my dogs were doing.  Two were lying quietly near my feet taking an after-breakfast nap.  Two others were taking a leisurely walk together through the upper property, taking turns sniffing various spots of interest.  The fifth dog was casually checking mole holes and eating bits of grass in between.

 

The Evolution of Dog Daycare

Back when I started my dog daycare, I was a bit isolated as a dog trainer.  It wasn’t until I joined the Association of Pet Dog Trainers that I became connected with other professional dog trainers all over the world.  Through email forums and educational events, I was surprised to find out that a lot of trainers had a negative view of the dog daycare industry.

As I ventured further, I found that there was good reason for concern!  In many cases the dog daycare experience can be highly detrimental to the well-being, behavior and training of the dogs who attend.  For those who are working hard to teach their dogs basic manners and social skills, an improperly run dog daycare can unravel weeks of work in a single day!

 

Do You Believe in Magic?

If you play your training cards right, your dog might!  Believe me; your dog knows when you have a treat in your hand or in your pocket.  Your dog also knows that sitting in the kitchen is more likely to result in a food treat than sitting in the bathroom.  Experience proves it!

Your dog also knows the difference between a person with empty hands asking him to sit, and a person with a ready-to-throw ball asking him to sit.

You can baffle and amaze your dog into more reliable compliance with a bit of trickery.  Simply pre-hide food treats and toys in places that your dog wouldn’t expect them.  Place small containers of treats/kibble all around the house.  Call your dog to the bathroom, ask him to sit and surprise him with a piece of freeze dried liver.  “Wow!  Where did that come from?!”

 

Siblings and Roommates Don't Count

I’m often asking dog owners about their dog’s socialization history.  Even if the dog owner tells me that their dog is “good with other dogs”, I have to ask more questions.  Time and again, the dogs that their dog is good with include the siblings he played with at the breeder’s home, the dog he lives with and a relative’s dog.  That’s it.

When I tell them that siblings and roommates don’t count, we get to the truth of the matter.  The dog may be nearly a year old and have only met one or two other dogs, besides siblings and roommates.  Now, I know that dog owners reading this might not see this as a big problem, as long as the dog was good with those dogs, we should be able to assume he’d be good with others, right?  Wrong.

 

Protecting the Little Dog

Do little dogs really need extra protection?  In some cases, perhaps.  Generally, they don't.  What small dogs really need is to learn how to navigate and negotiate the big, wide world full of bigger dogs, large humans and clumbsy little humans.

Little dogs MUST learn as small puppies (ages 8 - 16 weeks) that running from bigger dogs will lead to being chased and that they can stop larger puppies from smooshing them by giving some puppy feedback.  I get really excited when a large breed pup puts a heavy paw on a small breed pup, receives a squeal or a snark and quickly learns that he must be more careful with this little dog.  At the same time, the smaller pup learns that she DOES have some control over the situation.  She learns that she CAN speak up, keep herself protected and play with the big guys.  To me, this is a wonderous thing!

 

Give Your Dog Some People Food!

Yes, I said it. In fact, I say it and do it almost every day. I'm quite surprised at the number of clients who are afraid to give their dog "people food" and who are proud to have been keeping their dog from it.

First off, the very best dog food is made from wholesome, REAL people food. If your dog food and dog treats are filled with things that human's wouldn't eat, you might want to re-think your dog's diet! High-quality dog foods are made with things like chicken, beef, fish, cheese, veggies and fruits that could have just as easily landed on a human's dinner table. When's the last time you served chicken meal or animal digest for dinner? Do you even know what that is?

 

Puppies and Swine Flu

I’ve had a hard time filling my classes lately, so I started doing some investigating.  While there were many reasons for people not going to class right now, the H1N1 scare was mentioned more frequently than anything else.

I’m one to generally not get all worried about such things, take some common sense precautions and go on with life.  However, I do understand a little better some of the hyper-cautiousness of some of my clients this time around because of my own situation.  I have one daughter who is high-risk because she is under 25, and she’s attending a large college full of others her age.  My other daughter is just 25 and she’s pregnant.  My husband is an insulin dependent diabetic.  So, with all these potential risks for a more serious result upon contracting the flu, I am being careful!

 

Says Who?!

Last night I spoke to the esteemed Ken McCort on my podcast, Regarding Rover.  It was a breath of fresh air and a sigh of relief to hear him say that we should all relax, not just a little, and start being friends with our dogs instead of trying to be pack leaders.

I wanted to talk to Ken about this because there is so much misinformation, competing opinion and downright crap out there about dogs and how we should train them.  Some so-called experts drivel on about wolves and wolf pack behavior without so much as ever seeing an actual pack of wolves.  Instead, they repeat statements that have been repeated for years, without knowing where those statements came from or bothering to find out what has been learned since those statements were made.  The worst of them go on to elaborate, exaggerate and extrapolate these statements until they are nearly unrecognizable.

 

Dalmatians Acting Up

I didn’t think much of the 101 Dalmatians musical that’s about to hit stages around the country until I looked a little closer.  There are several very interesting things going on with this production.

First, all of the actors who are playing the part of a human character will be on special, metal stilts!  They have to dance on them, even!  This and the special backgrounds are meant to give the audience more of a “dog’s eye view” perspective.  The dog characters will also be played by humans, but they will not be on stilts, so they are lower to the ground.  Love it!

Second, at the end of the show there is a big finale with real dogs!  Most of the Dalmatians being used for the production are rescues.  At first, my trainer instincts felt a bit worried for these dogs.  What kind of training were they being subjected to?  Were they going to enjoy the stage, the lights and the audience? 

 

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