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Cynthia teaches Obedience for the Performance Dog - the agility student's important first step in developing a working, communicating relationship with their canine partner.  The class focuses on reward marker training (aka, shaping, clicker training, positive training) as the basis for communication between handler and the dog who will participate in just about any dog sport.  Even forward-thinking field trainers nowadays use reward marker training!  Every performance dog, no matter the sport, has to have a start line and a wait.  No matter the sport, the dog has to have attention, focus, and impulse control and has to take direction from the handler.


Cynthia has been clicker training dogs for about 20 years....that's 3 Labs and 2 Golden Retrievers ago!  She was introduced to the method by a wonderful gentleman who trained sled dogs.  Since then, Cynthia has taken several clicker training courses from the Karen Pryor Academy and trained her Golden Retrievers in Canine Freestyle, Rally, Obedience and Agility.

Four-year-old Ripley is Cynthia's current working and competition partner in Obedience, Rally and Agility.  However, the BEST outcome of consistent reward marker training for the Leavitt dogs is they get to go on all kinds of off leash adventures such as hiking, canoeing and snowshoeing.  They get to swim in lakes and rivers and hike in creeks--because of a solid recall, stay/wait and polite leash behavior.

Cynthia is a retired pediatric nurse practitioner who specialized in developmental and behavioral pediatrics.  Later in her career she became a licensed child and family therapist.  Her practice focused on children and families challenged with emotional and behavioral difficulties.  Cynthia and her husband Jim have 3 children, 5 beautiful grandchildren and four grand-dogs.  "Nana" gets a lot of questions about dog training, child health and behavior.


Cynthia offers instruction in group classes and private lessons.  She can be reached at

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