Cindi Fleishans is a very accomplished dog trainer after many years of rescue work and her deep involvement in the assistance dog field. In addition to tutoring clients of Alternative Canine Training (ACT), Cindi has dedicated hundreds of hours each year to the nonprofit program, Sterling Service Dogs. Since 2003 she has helped with all phases of preparing dogs for a service dog career from evaluating potential candidates to teaching new dogs obedience commands, appropriate manners in public and useful tasks from the beginner to the advanced stage. She then instructs the disabled client on how to significantly increase his or her safety and independence through teamwork with a highly trained service dog. She also volunteers some of her time to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners.
Cindi’s interest in animals started as a child. As an adult she lived in an apartment first and she got a bird. Her first bird was a Cockatiel named Zandar. You would often see her walking around with Zander on her shoulders. After that she raised several clutches of Cockatiels
Her first dog was an Irish Wolfhound, named Lena. Together they competed at dog shows and went backpacking in wilderness areas. Later she worked with her husband’s hunting dogs, taking field training seminars.
Cindi has a very giving personality and after she became a stay at home mom with three small children, she volunteered as a foster Mom for several different rescue groups to help them give a shelter dog “a second chance.” She gained experience with a wide variety of behavioral issues as a trainer, rehabilitating rambunctious canine delinquents and gently bringing timid dogs out of their shells to make these dogs very adoptable. The head of one rescue often teased her by saying they liked to send the wild, out of control dogs to her. As her children grew older, they helped her with the foster dogs, becoming very good at keeping the structures that make a dog feel more confident and happy. Of course, their hard work paid off and all the dogs found loving families.
Cindi currently shares her home with Faith, a spunky black Labrador Retriever who has been trained to compete in field events and to be a demo service dog. On occasion, Cindi will board and evaluate a puppy being raised for Sterling Service Dogs or bring home an older candidate to work with. So you never know if a Standard Poodle, a Golden Retriever, or perhaps a Smooth Coated Collie will eagerly welcome you at her door.
You may run into Cindi at a local mall or restaurant or other places in the community custom training a service dog to the special needs of each client. It is a process that can take up to one year or more. One of her more challenging cases involved training a Std. Poodle for a fourteen-year-old girl who suffered a massive stroke at age eleven. Sydney was pursuing the goal of riding for the USA in the Dressage competition at the Paralympics in 2016 in Brazil. With almost no use of her left arm, a thigh-high brace on her left leg to help with the weakness that makes her prone to falls and severe visual impairment, Sydney needed a service dog who could steady her while walking when wearing his balance support harness. Also, the dog had to learn to halt like a guide dog to warn her of curbs or steps, then carefully assist her to keep her balance going up and down these changes in elevation. Cindi had to train Journey in a high school setting and also find out if she could teach him to keep his focus on Sydney while working in a stable, then at a horse show. These were a few of more than 25 tasks that Journey mastered. The match was a success. In 2014, Sydney traveled with Journey to France to ride for the USA in the World Equestrian Games. Cindi continues to follow Syd’s quest on Facebook.
Over the years Cindi has attended many national and international conferences learning about the latest scientific studies on all aspects of training and raising dogs. One of the most interesting presentations to her at a recent conference was the training of dogs to smell whether a diabetic is having a diabetic low. Also that some dogs can be trained to smell certain types of cancer. Using what she has learned she is currently working to train her Dad’s dog to be a diabetic alert dog.
We are very thankful that Cindi joined Alternative Canine Training in 2004. When we provided a play and training service for one of the All American Pet Resorts Kennels, Cindi was the facility manager. It was her job to help organize the program, train assistants in the finer art of training dogs and to make sure that everything ran smoothly. In the years since then, Cindi has been teaching some of our Group classes and gives private lessons to the clients who choose one of our In-Home dog training programs.