Puppy Classes

We offer four levels of puppy classes designed to take your pup from his first moments with you all the way through adolescence and into adulthood. There are several factors that distinguish these classes from others in the Bay Area.

First, in the Puppy 1 class the class size is limited to eight or nine puppies, the smallest in the Bay Area, and there are usually two instructors present, making this the lowest trainer to student ratio anywhere.

Second, we train using a balanced approach that combines the best of positive reinforcement while retaining the benefits of structure, guidance and authority. To be more specific, we feel very strongly that the "positive only" training approach used by almost every other puppy program in the city is not only less effective in the short run, but extremely detrimental in the long run, disempowering owners from effectively dealing with problem behaviors and often leading to very difficult adolescent dogs. We see the results of this in so much of our private training and through this program hope to prevent this in its graduates. In other words, I believe that at some point in your pup’s training the continued reliance on the use of treats becomes a substitute for relationship building. Our program is designed to assure that this doesn’t happen to you.

Puppy 1

This program is designed for new puppies of less than four and a half months of age (though we do make age exceptions for small breeds.)

It is split into three main areas of focus. First, about fifty percent of the class is committed to puppy play and socializing, the leading preventor of future aggression in dogs. The other fifty percent is split evenly between trust and respect exercises that teach your pup to allow you to handle him or her without biting or rebelliousness as well as obedience exercises including sit, down, stand, stay (in each of these positions), come, off and at least one trick. Other issues that will be covered include puppy biting, object guarding, jumping up, appropriate toys, how to play games and a good deal more.

All of the curriculum for this class may be found in Mike’s book, There’s a Puppy in the House: Surviving the First Five Months, which is recommended as a companion to the class.

Cost: $245 for six one-hour classes. Location and times vary.

Puppy 2

Level two classes are designed to take the training exercises that your pup learned in the level one class and turn them into rock solid obedience that will work in the real world in the absence of treats as well as introducing leash work and heeling.

The emphasis here is on the concept "you have to." This coincides with your pup’s arrival firmly in the terrain of adolescence during which they will find it to be their mission in life to test you by pretending that they never took a level 1 class, a charade at which they are particularly skilled.

Level 2 classes are available to any graduates from a level 1 class in my program or any other. That is, if you have finished a level 1 class elsewhere you are welcome to join my level two class. Similarly, if you have not taken any obedience classes and your dog is over four and a half months of age yet is familiar at least with the concepts of sit, down, stay, off and come he or she is welcome in my class. More specifically, your pup should be able to do these commands for treats.

Cost: $245 for six one-hour classes. Location and times vary.

Puppy 3

The level 3 class focuses on distance commands such as down out of motion at a distance, off leash heeling, and advanced finishing commands.

The levels of distraction are extremely high and while the focus is still on fun the expectation for a high level of performance is strictly upheld.

Cost: $245 for six one-hour classes. Location and times vary.

Puppy 4

This is a new level created at the behest of students who have repeatedly asked for it. In level 4 we will meet as a group in outdoor areas alternating between park type settings and busy street settings to train the dog in the presence of any number of distractions in "real time." Class size is limited to six.

Cost: $245 for six one-hour classes. Location and times vary.


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