Cathy Rybarczyk


I started Connected K9s, LLC with the goal of helping dog lovers enjoy a deeper connection with their dogs. By this I mean enjoying a dog who is attentive, responsive, relaxed, easy to live with, and fun to include in all life activities ~ both in the home and outside in our community.

To accommodate all client needs and lifestyles, I offer a range of ways to achieve your Connected (aka well-behaved) K9, from group classes to private training and even programs in which I do the training for you.

Whichever Connected K9s program best fits you,
you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that:

My training credentials

Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner

I am proud to be not only a graduate, with distinction, of the Karen Pryor Academy, but also a KPA Certified Training Partner—the only one in our area. I am also a KPA Puppy Start Right Instructor, graduate of the KPA Better Vet Visit program, and have attended multiple KPA Clicker Expo conferences for professional trainers.

KPA is known among serious dog trainers as one of the most rigorous professional training programs available. (Many trainers have described it as “humbling!”) I chose it for that reason. In an unregulated industry where anyone can declare themselves a dog trainer without credentials or training, I want you to know that I’ve dedicated myself to the highest possible standards of education, oversight, and continued professional development.

Living & Learning With Animals Graduate

Dr. Susan Friedman’s LLA course is highly regarded in the professional dog training community. This deep dive into canine learning theory and its practical applications is a must for any serious animal trainer.

Family Paws Parent Educator

To back my passion for helping parents of human and canine children enjoy safe, joyful households, I am a Family Paws Parent Educator. The FPPE program admits a small number of carefully chosen professional dog trainers each year to earn this status through an intensive study program.

Continued Professional Development

My drive to offer the most effective training solutions possible to my clients and students keeps me in constant pursuit of continuing education. Recent opportunities have included the Aggression in Dogs Seminar with Michael Shikashio and The Aggression in Dogs Conference. Other various webinars that I have participated in, particularly in the area of canine aggression, include Breaking Up Dog Fights, Danger at the Door, Dog to Cat Aggression, and B.A.T. (Behavior Adjustment Training). Other areas of professional development that I explore are canine fitness, nose work, and any training that is enriching to dogs and their humans.

My journey—the story of 4 dogs who trained a trainer

In many ways my story is not uncommon among dog trainers. Usually we can tell you about the dog who drove us into training. In my case, though, it took four.

First there were Beau and Ty, my beautiful yellow labs. I miss them terribly still, and wish I could go back in time for a do-over. In his older years Beau underwent surgery for trachea damage (so many staples in his neck!), a result of years of traditional correction training with chain slip leads and prong collars. I thought I was doing the right thing, guided by trainers before I understood that there are no professional standards or requirements for dog trainers.

Then came Zeva and Gio. Zeva is a beauty queen of a German Shepherd. Traditional training backfired with Zeva, and she began lunging, growling, and barking at other dogs and people while on leash. At the time I didn’t understand it, but now I know the clear research results linking force-based training to the development of aggression.

Gio was a whole other experience—34 pounds of unbridled, demanding energy. At first I thought I might lose my mind. I tried to control him with traditional methods like alpha rolling, giving up on that approach when he began aggressing at me. (Really, when I think back on it now, how could I blame him?)

At wits end, I started reading, studying, searching for other training answers. Ultimately my challenges with Zeva and Gio and my regrets about Beau and Ty led me to learn clicker training—a fully positive training approach, backed by science, that doesn’t even require laying hands on the animal learner.

This positive approach to training has transformed Zeva into a trusting companion. Though still not what you’d call an actively social dog, Zeva is far more comfortable in the presence of other dogs and, rather than reacting to them, looks to me for direction. What a relief for us both! And clicker training has successfully channeled Gio’s overwhelming energy into a training powerhouse who loves to learn new behaviors. Who knew back at the beginning that he’d become a KPA Canine Graduate! I now call him Gio the Wonder Dog.

And I have been transformed, too. Training is joyful, fun, and satisfying. I get amazing training results, and enjoy the process of getting them. I get to watch my dogs become the very best (and best-behaved) versions of themselves. This is what I want for you as well, and what I strive to gift all of my clients.

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