Cindy Benson KPA CTP

LGD Training Experience

In the past few years I have owned or done training with just over two hundred Maremmas. This includes the sixteen adult Maremmas employed on the ranch today. I have been their rapt student. I will never consider myself an expert at understanding Maremmas and the complex nature of how they do their job. I learn from my dogs every day! What a privilege that is.

I am an avid student of animal behavioral science. Below are some of the resources I draw from in training our pups.

Puppy Culture

Puppy Culture is a training protocol developed by Jane Killion for puppies from two to twelve weeks of age. I used her program for the first time with my 2018 Hannah x Centurion litter. I am so impressed with our results that I doubt I will ever raise a litter again without using the Puppy Culture training protocol.

Karen Pryor Academy

I am a student of the Karen Pryor Academy (KPA.) KPA offers many wonderful training courses. They are completed using a combination of online coursework, actual training time with the participant’s own dogs with the support of an instructor throughout, rigorous testing, and finally if you have really worked hard a Certificate of Completion.


They also offer onsite training courses at The Ranch, which is the National Clicker Training Institute located near Tacoma, WA.


I have completed the following courses:

Dog Trainer Foundations

This coursework is designed to span a three month period of time. I learned so much about the science of how dogs learn, why positive reinforcement training is so successful, and the risks and drawbacks of traditional punishment based training. It is an exceptional course and I recommend it highly for anyone wishing to better understand how to communicate with their dogs, of any breed or discipline. Learning this course material has made a huge difference in my understanding of the language of my dogs and how they learn.

Puppy Start Right for Instructors 

written by Kenneth Martin, DVM and Debbie Martin, RVT,VTS, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP

KPA gives access to this course for six months. I, of course, tore through it much faster than that because I was voraciously interested in what I was learning. I completed the course to KPA’s satisfaction and earned my Certificate of Completion and then went back through the entire course, again and again. This course taught me about the science of how puppies learn and the various windows of time that are opportunities for specific training. This course dovetails beautifully with Puppy Culture because both these programs are solidly based in scientific principles. The course also covers how to teach early clicker training basics to puppies, problem solving, and diseases and vaccine protocols. Part of the goal of the course is to teach the participant how to create and manage their own puppy socialization course professionally. I have used what I learned in this course, combined it with the specialized training I know LGDs need, and have created my own puppy socialization course for our puppies produced. I call it Foundation Training.

Better Veterinary Visits

This course teaches how to train animals to voluntarily participate in husbandry tasks such as blood draws, toenail trims, and many more necessary behaviors through positive reinforcement training. With my adult dogs teaching them these skills is behavior modification, because they are past that golden window of time when they were puppies that could learn so quickly. Behavior modification takes more time. Dogs learn all their lives so it’s never too late to teach new skills. I have incorporated much of what I learned from this course into my early training with our puppies.

Training for Professionals: Across Species

taught by Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President and Chief Training Officer at KPCT

This is a five day intensive training course held at the National Clicker Training Institute in Washington. This course was an incredible learning opportunity for me. The course deals with understanding animal behavior in zoological, marine, and domestic settings. There were participants there from as far away as Australia, England, and Japan. This $1800 course is a prerequisite for the Deep Dive course that I hope to complete in late 2019. I am a science geek, so this course amazed and thrilled me. I learned so much. Building my training program here for my dogs based in science rather than opinions or conventional wisdom and tradition is effective and responsible.

Clicker Expo Portland 2019

The expo is three full days of extensive lectures concerning behavioral science and training. This was an amazing opportunity to learn directly from some of the top professionals in their fields. There are least four lectures being taught at the same time so it impossible to see them all, unless you do as I did and purchase the Video on Demand for the entire expo! This will allow me to learn from these instructors again and again as time goes on and my own base of skills increases.

Dog Trainer Professional


This intensive course spans a minimum of six months, with a cost of $5300. It requires 10-15 hours a week of at home learning in addition to the four full day weekend workshops. Graduation of this course is earned, big time, with challenging exams at the end of the course. I am VERY proud to say that I completed my certification for this course in July 2020. The wealth of knowledge that this course gave me will pay forward through more comprehensive training of our pups as well as assist me as an instructor.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants - Current Member