Cindy Bruckart


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

Those Lovely, Ill-Mannered, Untrained Shelter Dogs


So, my last blog upset a few people who thought my description of many shelter dogs as ill-mannered and untrained was derogatory and unfair.  I found it very sad that these people felt such simple truths were so damning.  Personally, I think the dog-adopting public is much more capable of handling and understanding the truth than some would imagine.

In fact, as some critics pointed out, most dog owners are already living with well-loved, ill-mannered and untrained dogs.  So why would they run away from adoption just because we’re honest about what kinds of dogs make up a good part of that population?  The point is, after all, that the dogs in the shelter are no different than any other dogs.  Except for those who severely missed out on early socialization and have therefore become aggressive, the rest of them just need the same manners training that any pet dog would need.


Who Killed These Dogs?

A picture and the subsequent conversation on Facebook has compelled me to write this blog post.  The conversation is about a picture making the internet rounds.  It is a picture of four dead dogs lying on the floor of a shelter truck.  At the top right of the picture are the words, "If you breed or buy, you are responsible for this."

Recovery & Dog Training

Through uncontrollable circumstances early on, and later choices in my life, I was sporadically exposed to recovery and eventually immersed in it. While I never fully embraced the 12 step programs, I have great respect for their followers. I’ve also found some of their sayings to be very helpful reminders throughout my life. In fact, they even apply to dog training.

“First things first.” – This saying is based on the model of the medical triage. You must take care of the most immediate problem before you get to the underlying issues. For instance, you must stop the bleeding before you worry about putting in stitches.


Have Dog Trainers Failed?

“Blaming individual bite victims for this almost universal ignorance, however, just seems cruel. If we must assign blame for this kind of thing, perhaps we animal care professionals and enthusiasts should start by asking ourselves why we have failed to make what seems like common sense to us truly common. “

Jeff Silverman, The Blame Game: Who's at fault when dog bites Denver news anchor?


Hear!  Hear!  For a long time I’ve been frustrated with conversations among dog trainers about the lack of behavioral knowledge in the veterinary community, obnoxious behavior at dog parks, lack of puppies in puppy classes, owner non-compliance and the “stupid” things that dog owners do.


Beyond Socialization - Using Shelter Play Groups for Training & Assessment

I’ve been doing various sorts of dog play groups for over ten years. But conducting play groups in the shelter environment is a much more challenging prospect. Having worked through some of those challenges, I’ve decided to share my solutions in an upcoming seminar, Beyond Socialization – Using Shelter Play Groups for Training Assessment. Not only will I be talking about challenges and solutions, but also the potential pitfalls of shelter play groups and how play can be used to better serve the dog and the adopting public.

Here’s an overview of some of the challenges I’ll be discussing:


Those Wonderful, Awful People

The problems facing the modern dog are the same problems facing the planet, wildlife, government and economics. They all have one common denominator. Interestingly, this common problem is also the common solution. It all comes down to human behavior.

Dogs are not in a position to make decisions on where they live, how they live or even if they live. Their fate and welfare are in the hands of humans. This can be a very fortunate place to be if the individual dog finds its way to caring people. Surely there are many other species who could only hope for the level of concern that is given to our beloved canines.


Impulse Control for Everyone

In dog training there is a lot of talk about impulse control.  I believe it’s such a big issue because most dog owners seek help when their dogs become adolescents, which is also the time when impulse control is at its lowest.  This is even more the case with an adolescent who has had no practice in puppyhood.  If you work with shelter dogs, I’ve just described the back-story of most relinquished or stray dogs.

Teaching longer sits and downs, introducing stays and leave its, are all part of developing impulse control in dogs.  Working on loose leash walking and eye contact are also helpful.  Basically, anything that encourages and rewards the dog to put aside what he’d like to do (pull toward something, look at something other than you, move toward you when you walk away, bolt through a door) and instead do some silly (to the dog) thing you’ve asked him to do.


Changing the Rules

I've changed the rules at my house. I've done something that I never thought I would do. I've decided that I no longer want to share my bed with four dogs.

I've also decided that the cats in my house need some space that belongs to just them. For the past three days I have had a baby gate at the end of the hall leading to my bedroom. When I go to bed I leave my dogs in the living room where they have their choice of furniture or dog beds. There has been some confusion and even some complaining, but everyone is adjusting.

I've also converted the spare bedroom (which is bed-less) into a cat sanctuary. There are scratching posts, kitty condos, a litter box and food. The cat room is also beyond the baby gate, therefore beyond the reach of any dogs. This was inspired by my newly adopted dog who hasn't yet figured out the rules about dealing with cats.


Surviving the a Human


Pictured:  IRIS - Available for adoption at Multnomah County Animal Shelter




I've been working full time at the shelter for six months now.  In my years as a dog trainer I really thought that I was completely in touch with the shelter world.  I've fostered dogs.  I've helped to re-home client dogs.  I've re-homed a couple of my own dogs.  I've always understood that the puppies in my classes might not live with their current families forever and it was my job to do everything I could to ensure that they would.  I counseled many a client who was ready to make that trip to the county shelter.  And of course I had lots of connections with colleagues working in a shelter or rescue who were constantly sending me info about homeless pets.


Play Group Profile: Chance

Chance came into the Multnomah County Animal Shelter smelling of cigarettes, yeast and urine. She had an itchy, inflamed skin condition that had caused patchy hair loss. Her previous owner had been incarcerated for some time and family members didn’t want her.

Her first few days with shelter staff and volunteers involved growling, cowering, moving away from people and lots of submissive urination. When she did finally allow a staff member to pet her chest a little, the pain of her inflamed skin caused her to yip, move away and pee.

Over the next couple of weeks Chance was given health exams, special baths and medical treatment for her skin condition and yeast infection in her ears. She often licked the faces of her caregivers and enjoyed several tummy rubs. However, she was still a bit shy and doing a lot of submissive urination. Both things that tend to keep a dog from being adopted.



Subscribe to The Dog Blog
The Free Course Collection for Dog Owners, Trainers, Breeders, Veterinarians, Shelters/Rescues and Pet Stores