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Cindy Benson KPA CTP

Personal Story

I am a California native now living with my husband of 30 years on our secluded 360-acre ranch. I have lived a ranch life since I was a child, and most of my life has been spent managing large populations of a variety of livestock and less common creatures; ostriches, emus, and parrots, to name a few.

I raised Miniature Donkeys for almost 30 years and still have a few. I have shipped donkeys all across the United States and sent 20 overseas. At one time my herd consisted of 120 donkeys but now is down to just 19; our last foals are due in August 2022. Maremmas came into my life initially to protect my donkey herd but have since captivated all my attention.

I have been training animals since I was a young child. I’ve been told the story of me putting a horse halter on the body of my companion dog and hitching him to a wagon, poor boy! I remember the dog but not this adventure. I have shown horses and donkeys and have taught many to pull carts. My current riding equine is Mathilda, my Belgium draft mule. Mitch and I enjoy wilderness pack trips when time allows; he goes more often than I do but now that I am no longer breeding dogs, I hope that will change.

LGD Training Experience


I have owned, or done training with, more than 250 Maremmas. I will never consider myself an expert at understanding livestock guardian dogs and the complex nature of how they do their job but learning from this many dogs has been very helpful! I learn from my Maremmas every day. As I write this there are twenty-seven Maremmas employed at Benson Ranch/Benson Maremmas. What a privilege that is.

I began my formal training education through participation in the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Foundations Course in 2018. This is a science-based course designed for the typical companion dog owner. In 2021, I published an LGD training manual that I wrote to accompany this wonderful course as it can be applied to livestock guardian dogs. You’ll find a link to both the training manual and the KPA course below.

Amazon Link to Purchase the Training Manual







Link to sign up for the course:


In 2021, I became a certified profession dog trainer through completion of the rigorous Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professionals course. I have stepped down as a breeder of Maremmas and now devote myself full-time to training livestock guardian dogs of all breeds, teaching though the use of Zoom sessions or in person, and through writing blog posts and books. Stay tuned for the second LGD training book! I have been working on it for five years. Now that I have retired from breeding Maremmas I expect to find the time to finish this worthy project.

I am an avid student of animal behavioral science. Honing my own education has made me hungry for more so I am usually participating in formal coursework of some sort! Below, I have listed some of the courses I have completed thus far. These resources are available to everyone so please join me! The dogs in your life will thank you – mine sure have.


Karen Pryor Academy Online Courses


Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Foundations Course

Puppy Start Right Course for Instructors

Better Veterinary Visits

Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional
2019-2020 (Online & in-person course)

Canine Freestyle with Michele Pouliot


Karen Pryor Academy In-Person Courses at The National Clicker Training Institute


Training for Professionals: Across Species

Guest at The Ranch Workshop:
Hannah Branigan & Ken Ramirez Present Shaping with Precision


Next Level Training
April 2022

Training for Professionals: Across Species
August 2022

Guest at The Ranch Workshop:
Susan G. Friedman, PH.D. & Ken Ramirez present The Magic Is In the Data!

August 2022

Relationship Centered Training – Suzanne Clothier


See The Dog: Asking the Elemental Question

Mindful Puppy Socialization

Enriched Puppy Protocol

CARAT (Clothier Animal Response Assessment Tool)

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants


Writing Mentorship for Trainers and Behavior Consultants

Writing Mentorship with Eileen Anderson

Canine Social Behavior

Forensics of Aggression

Writing Mentorship with Eileen Anderson

What Is a Dog? – The Ethology of Our Best Friend

How Genetics Relate to Behavior: Uncovering the History of Dogs

Writing Mentorship with Eileen Anderson

NEI TEC Professional Animal Training and Management Workshop


Episode 135: Telling "White Dog Stories" to Save Lives (with Cindy Benson)



How Behavior Works - Living and Learning with Animals


NEI TEC Immersion Workshop

Other Resources

There are many professional trainers that I have learned from.

I thank them all for their investment of time in me! Most noteworthy are:

Steve Martin –

Susan G. Friedman, Ph. D –

Ken Ramirez -

Terry Ryan -

Bobbie Lyons -

Kaye Geyler -

Michele Pouliot -

Hannah Branigan -

ClickerExpo 2019 – Portland, OR

ClickerExpo 2020 – Seattle, WA

ClickerExpo 2023 - Washington DC


Puppy Culture was a game changer for me!

Jane Killion -

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