Dog Training Classes

During COVID it is still possible to begin or continue your dog’s training through online and in-person group classes and private sessions. In-person group training and private training sessions are currently available at our Oakland location only. 

Our training classes are designed to enrich the bond between you and your companion through positive reinforcement methods. For online classes via Zoom, participants will be able to submit videos of in-home training sessions for feedback from our trainers and have the ability to ask questions real-time during sessions. If you are interested in a class that is currently not available for online sessions, follow the link to sign up for waitlist for that class.

In Private Training Sessions, one of our trainers will observe and work closely with you and your dog and make recommendations for training and management plans.

We also offer affordable on-demand, online courses on common cat and dog behavior topics. These presentations include introductory courses on behavior, as well as specialty classes that are designed to help understand and address specific challenges.

Beginner

Beginner classes are the perfect place for you and your dog to start achieving your training goals. These classes are designed to help your dog learn the fundamentals of good manners. Also, beginner classes are a great way to improve communication and enhance the bond between you and your dog. We have beginner classes for pups and dogs of all ages.

Skill Builders (Level 1) – In-Person Training Available

6 week class: For dogs over 16 weeks of age.

Foundation Skills for the Constant Companion: Do you want to know how to have a dog with delightful manners in the home who can also accompany you everywhere dogs are invited? Do you have a dog that isn’t well suited for the classroom environment either due to fear or reactivity? Are you wanting to begin your dog’s training but feel at a loss while we Shelter in Place?

This class is designed to build a solid training and relationship foundation. Training skills include recall, sit, down, door manners, polite greetings (i.e. no jumping), nose targeting, polite leash walking, and developing play skills.

Prerequisites: None.

Price: $175 for 6 week course ($150 for adopted animals)

Puppy Stars – In-Person Training Available

6 week class: Puppies should be between 8 – 16 weeks old at the start of class.

Bringing out the Einstein in Your Puppy: Start your puppy off right in our cutting edge puppy socialization class. We’ll provide positive exposure to people, dogs, and novel stimuli; help you prepare your pup for grooming, vet care, and other handling; teach you foundation training skills such as relaxation on a mat, sit, recall, leash walking, and targeting; and we’ll focus on puppy-specific topics, such as resource guarding prevention, crate training, potty training, and teething. This class is everything you need to know to raise a puppy!

This class will be taught in person at our Oakland facility.

Prerequisites: None.

Price: $175 for 6 week class ($150.00 for adopted animals)

Canine Home Alone – Online Course

3 week class

Helping our Dogs not be Nervous Rex: Dogs are social animals and being left alone can be hard for them. Many pet parents have been home more frequently for the last year and their pups may not know what to do when they leave. This three week, online course is designed to help your dog learn to stay relaxed and calm when you leave the house for work, errands or life in general.

This class will be taught via Zoom with the ability to ask questions real-time. Class recordings will also be available for students to review. 

Prerequisites: None.

Price: $75 for a 3 week class ($60 for adopted animals)

Advanced

Our advanced classes are geared toward those who have previously taken classes and for human-dog teams who are looking to achieve that next level of behavior and training greatness!

Connection Boosters (Level 2)

6 week class

Engagement Skills for the Constant Companion: You’ve got the foundation.  Now, we’ll teach you how to become the most important thing in your dog’s world so that you can take him anywhere dogs are invited.  As a continuation of the Skill Builders class, Connection Boosters builds reliability to leash walking and recall by adding in distractions and distance.  Additional training skills include building focus, sit-stay and down-stay, wait in any location, automatic sit when stopping during polite leash walking, go to mat, drop it, and mastering play skills.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Skill Builders (Level 1)

Price: $175 for 6 week class ($150.00 for adopted animals)

This class is not being offered at this time. Please check back soon. 

Canine Good Citizen (Prep & Test)

5 week class – For puppies and dogs that are 6 months and older by the first day of class.

Our Canine Good Citizen class is designed to practice the 10 test items you and your dog must pass in order to receive the AKC CGC certificate. The test includes meeting novel people politely, accepting petting and grooming, walking nicely on a loose leash alone and through a crowd, demonstrating Sit, Down, Stay, and Come, meeting another leashed dog, remaining calm during sight and sound distractions and being separated from owner for 3 minutes. On the last day of class, a certified AKC CGC evaluator will conduct the test and determine at that time whether your dog has passed the test.

You and your dog will attend all 5 classes together.

Prerequisites: Any intro level class such as Skill Builders, Mind Your Manners Part 1, Puppy Kindergarten Part 1 or another similar class from another training school. Dogs are most successful when they’ve taken Skill Builders and Connection Boosters before attending our CGC class.

Price: $150.00 for the 5 week class

This class is not being offered at this time. Please check back soon. 

Specialty

Our specialty classes are designed to be fun, informative, and really take your behavior and training to the next level!

Calm, Cool, and Collected – Online Training Available

6 week class

The Class for Your Feisty Fido: Does your dog growl, bark, or lunge at other dogs, people, or sometimes apparently random things? Do you wish you could walk your dog, but his aggressive behavior is embarrassing and/or even a little scary? Learn the tools to help your dog feel safe and remain calm in the presence of triggers.

This class will be taught via Zoom with additional video submission of in-home training sessions for feedback from our trainers and the ability to ask questions real-time.

Price: $200.00 for 6 week class ($175.00 for adopted animals)

Polite Pooches – One-on-One and Duo Training Sessions

Single 45-Minute Session

Putting Reactivity Skills into Practice: Looking to build on and improve the skills you learned in our Calm, Cool, and Collected class? Check out our Polite Pooch options to take your dog’s training to the next level.

  • Polite Pooch Practice: In these one-on-one sessions, our trainer will work with you and your dog at the level they are ready for. Instructors will set up situations to help you and your dog practice the skills they learned in Calm, Cool, and Collected in a controlled environment that matches their ability level.
  • Polite Pooch Partners: In these sessions, two student/dog teams will practice the skills from your Calm, Cool, and Collected class in a controlled environment at our Oakland campus with instructor supervision. Students will be matched based on their dog’s performance in a one on one Polite Pooch Practice session.

Prerequisites: Have attended either an online or in-person Calm, Cool, and Collected class

Price: $85 for one on one session; $65 for duo sessions

Intro to Nosework

6 week class – For dogs that are 6 months and older by the first day of class.

Nosework is an easy to learn activity that uses a dog’s natural abilities for hunting to find hidden treats, toys or other items. This game builds confidence and focus as the dog is rewarded for doing what comes naturally! It’s also a safe way to provide mental and physical exercise to all types of dogs. Handlers will learn about dog body language and how to motivate your dog, which are great tools for developing your relationship with your pet!

Prerequisites: None.

Behavioral Appropriateness: Dogs work one at a time so this is a great class for dogs that are not comfortable around other dogs. Dogs must be crate trained and able to handle confinement in a crate between turns.

Price: $175 for 6 week class ($150.00 for adopted animals)

If there are not sessions open for registration, please contact training@eastbayspca.org to be added to our waitlist.

Intro to Odor

6 week class – For dogs that are 6 months and older by the first day of class.

Introduction to Odor is a continuation of skills from our Intro to Nose Work Class. Dogs are taught to identify the target odors: Anise, Birch, and Clove. Skills that each handler will acquire from the class include search techniques, dog/handler teamwork and reading the dog’s body language during the search.

Prerequisites: Dogs and handlers must have completed Intro to Nose Work and have instructor approval to register for this class.

Behavioral Appropriateness: Dogs work one at a time so this is a great class for dogs that are not comfortable around other dogs. Dogs must be crate trained and able to handle confinement in a crate between turns.

Price: $175 for 6 week class ($150.00 for adopted animals)

Private Training

Private training sessions are available online via Zoom or in-person in Oakland only. In these sessions, one of our trainers will observe and work closely with you and your dog to make recommendations for training and behavior management plans.

Meet Our Trainers

Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie, KPA-CTP, Licensed Family Paws Parent Educator

Tressa got her start with positive reinforcement training working as a trainer at a Petco store in 2015. Shortly after completing the Petco certification program, she enrolled in the Karen Pryor Academy Professionals program, where she earned her KPA-CTP certification in 2016 and learned an immense amount modern, science-based animal training. At the end of 2016, she moved back to her hometown and started her own business as a dog trainer and dog daycare provider.

In 2018, Tressa became a licensed Family Paws Parent Educator in order to better assist families in creating safe and harmonious households with dogs and children. At this time, she was also hired onto the Humane Society of Sonoma County Behavior and Training Department and phased out of daycare in order to focus on teaching, training, and working at the shelter. Tressa later relocated to Sacramento and worked as the Behavior Specialist at the Sacramento SPCA, before relocating once again to the East Bay to take on the Behavior and Training Manager role here at the East Bay SPCA.

Tressa’s primary interest is in teaching families the skills they need to communicate effectively with their dogs. She’s a firm believer that training should be fun for ALL learners, whether animal or human. Tressa lives with her husband, toddler, two dogs and cat in Oakland.

Stephanie Jones, CNWI

Stephanie Jones has loved animals her entire life. As a child growing up in a small town in Maryland, she would bring home stray dogs, turtles, frogs, and orphaned or injured rabbits. She especially loved spending time with and training the family dogs.

It was with her current canine, Wilbur, that she discovered the sport of nose work. Initially, she never considered competing, however, she soon became hooked on the absolute joy that the sport brought to her and her dog. After retiring from a career in marketing, she decided to turn her passion into a second career as a K9 Nose Work® instructor became a certified instructor in July 2021. Team Wilbur earned their “NW3 Elite” title in May 2019. Wilbur at age 13, is retired from competition, but still enjoys Nose Work.

Micah McKechnie, CPDT-KA

Micah McKechnie is a Behavior and Training Associate at the East Bay SPCA. She began training using positive reinforcement at age 12 and graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in environmental science. After college, she continued to volunteer in animal welfare, training and handling dogs, cats, rodents, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys, alpacas, and birds of prey. She is a CPDT-KA certified dog trainer and has completed Susan Friedman’s LLA for Behavior Professionals Course. She was a team leader in the East Bay SPCA’s partnership with the Jackson Galaxy Cat Pawsitive Pro program and is passionate about helping cat owners learn that yes, in fact you CAN train cats! In her free time, she loves riding horses, training circus arts, baking with her husband, sewing costumes, and hanging out with her two cats, Pants and Goblin.

Chris Money, CPDT-KA

Chris Money is a Behavior and Training Associate at the East Bay SPCA. As a young child, Chris was terrified of dogs and grew up working with much cuddlier animals like snapping turtles and fruit bats. This all changed due to a farm dog named Jed (rights for a lifetime original are already reserved) and since then Chris has loved meeting and working with dogs of all shapes and sizes. Chris found a passion for non-profit work while working with AmeriCorps and merged the two loves together by working in animal rescue. As a member of the Behavior and Training team, Chris has spent the last five years helping shelter animals learn the skills and behaviors they will need to succeed in a home environment. He received his CPDT-KA certification and completed Susan Friedman’s LLA for Behavior Professionals Course. Helping dogs learn to succeed and their humans learn how to help them do so is his favorite part of this work.

Christine Sperry, KPA-CTP

Christine grew up loving animals and had newts, frogs, fish, guinea pigs, a chinchilla, a parakeet, and a beagle. It’s no surprise, then, that after 4 years working in health care as a geriatric Occupational Therapist, she realized her true love was helping humans build positive and enjoyable relationships with their pets. She completed the Karen Pryor Academy professional training program and joined the East Bay SPCA team! She also works for a small succulent business, and enjoys collecting rare plants, cooking healthy recipes with her husband, and hiking the Bay with her goldendoodle Melvin.

carol-maya-eastbasyspca-dogtrainer

Carol Wilson, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, CNWI

Carol Wilson discovered the depth of human-canine bond that can be developed through training and shared adventures when she entered the world of competitive obedience over thirty years ago. She has been training and playing with her own dogs in various companion animal activities ever since. After leaving a career in corporate marketing, Carol chose to spend time pursuing her passion for encouraging the bond between humans and their dogs. She graduated from the Canine Behavior Academy I & 2, and with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior. She is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed and a NACSW Certified Nose Work Instructor. As a believer in life-long learning, Carol continues to pursue additional educational opportunities in all aspects of training and learning theory. Carol has experience in competitive obedience, rally, nose work, agility and parkour. She continues to participate in a variety of canine activities with her two best friends, Border Collie-mix Maya and terrier-mix Dodge. Carol offers private behavior and nose work training through her own business, Rewarding Results, LLC.

Ellen Yoakum, KPA-CTP, SA Pro Trainer

Ellen Yoakum is a Karen Pryor Academy – Certified Training Partner, a Certified Professional Bird Trainer, and a Separation Anxiety Pro Trainer. She brings experience from a range of fields including companion animal daycare and boarding, wildlife rehabilitation, zoological, private training, welfare research, and live education presentations.

Having both personal and professional experience with a wide range of maladaptive behaviors, and a special interest in Separation Anxiety, Ellen knows how difficult it is for everyone involved.

Ellen is dedicated to continuing education, so she can bring the most up-to-date information to you. Through a collaborative effort, a kind and compassionate learning environment, and a commitment to choice-based, force-free training Ellen curates her years of education and experience to provide a plan that will work for both you, and your pet. She is there to support and empower you in reaching your goals.

From puppies to adult dogs, helping families find ways to communicate and live comfortably together is one of the things Ellen enjoys most about her career. Ellen currently shares her home with two pups, Griffey and Laika, who continue to teach her every day.

Locations and Policies

We offer two convenient locations for our dog training classes

East Bay SPCA Oakland Adoption Center: 8323 Baldwin Street

East Bay SPCA Dublin Adoption Center: 4651 Gleason Drive

Policies

Class Cancellations & Date Changes

We require at least a minimum number of people per class. If that minimum is not met 72 hours before the class, the class may be cancelled or the start date pushed back one week.

We will contact you 24-48 hours before the class start date to notify you if the class has been cancelled or the start date changed to accommodate low registration numbers. You will have the option of enrolling in an alternative class, receiving credit toward a future class, or receiving a full refund if the class is cancelled or the new dates do not work for your schedule.

Refund & Transfer Policy

We will refund your class fee or transfer you to a new class if you cancel in writing at least 3 days before the class starts. If you enroll within 3 days of the class, you are not eligible for refunds or transfers for any reason.  We are unable to offer any refunds or transfers after the class begins.  If you adopt from us and return the dog, your fees are not refundable for any reason.

Families with Dogs

Because having and training a dog is a family affair, we encourage family members and kids to come to class with the handler. However, it is important that some guidelines be followed regarding children.

Children must be non-disruptive under parental control at all times. Please explain to your children that not all dogs are friendly towards children and therefore they should obtain the owner’s permission before approaching another dog. Handlers must be at least 13 years of age. Parents must attend class with their children except in the case that the child is at least 16 years old.

Behavioral Appropriateness 

Not all dogs are behaviorally appropriate for the group class environment.  If your dog does not get along with other dogs and/or barks incessantly at the sight of other dogs, s/he may not do well in the group class environment.  Excessively fearful dogs may also have trouble in group classes.  If you’re unsure if your dog is behaviorally appropriate for class, please contact us in advance at training@eastbayspca.org.  If your dog is too disruptive or not behaviorally appropriate for class, your instructor may suggest training alternatives.

Wait List Policy

If you are registered on the wait list for a class, a member of our staff will contact you if there are openings for enrollment.

Vaccinations

We are dedicated to the safety of all the dogs that attend classes, therefore we ask you to have at least 2 DH2PP vaccines before coming into any class. This shot should include Distemper and Parvo. We encourage a Bordetella shot for puppies, but it is not a requirement. For adult dogs we also ask that your rabies vaccination be up to date. Please bring in your vaccination papers to your first class.

We do strongly recommend that you vaccinate your canine companion against the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). For more information on CIV talk with your veterinarian or visit our Canine Influenza Virus information page.

Additional Information

  • We prefer dogs are spayed or neutered when attending our dog training classes, except for puppies under 6 months.  If you have questions, regarding this, please contact us at training@eastbayspca.org.  We have two low cost Spay / Neuter Centers located in Oakland and Dublin.
  • We use reward based, force free training methods and do not allow prong collars or choke collars in our dog training classes.
  • Unfortunately, we do not offer make up classes.  If you need to miss a class, please let your instructor know and they will send you the class homework/information.

If you have any questions, please contact training@eastbayspca.org or call (510) 563.4624.

Training Class FAQs

  • In-person group training sessions will be capped following county guidelines (updated 3.31.21). Six (6) owner/dog pairs. Owners can bring up to two (2) people/dog.
  • Social distancing between all participants will be enforced.
  • All participants and staff will be required to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth.
  • Any updated guidelines from Alameda County and California State Public Health Departments and subsequent policy changes will be shared with participants in a timely manner.

Both of these classes mainly focus on basic manners, but Puppy Stars is for pups that are 2-4 months old, and Skill Builders is for pups and dogs that are at least 5 months old and fully vaccinated.

If you know your dog does not get along with other dogs and barks incessantly at the sight of other dogs, then either our Calm, Cool, and Collected or a private training setting would be more appropriate.

If your dog is often too nervous in a public setting to be able to focus on you or care about treats, some classes may be too overwhelming and thus prevent your dog from learning. Private training is recommended.

Many of our courses offer a special Adopter Price, allowing you to register with a $25 discount if you adopted your pet from a non-profit animal welfare organization. Please check the course entry to see if the discounted price is available. This is our way of thanking you for choosing the adoption option!

We also offer a 15% discount when you “bundle” Skill Builders (Level 1) and Connection Boosters (Level 2) and register for both at the same time. We offer this discount to encourage you to commit to your dog’s ongoing education! To take advantage of this discount, contact training@eastbayspca.org for the coupon code.

If the training you need for your pet is cost-prohibitive, scholarships are available for both group classes and private trainings. Please contact training@eastbayspca.org to request an application.

We are dedicated to the safety of all the dogs that attend classes, therefore we ask your dog to have received at least 2 DH2PP vaccines before coming into any class. This shot should include Distemper and Parvo. We encourage a Bordetella vaccination, but it is not a requirement. For dogs 4+ months old, we also ask that your rabies vaccination be up to date. Please bring in your vaccination papers to your first class.

We do strongly recommend that you vaccinate your canine companion against the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV).  For more information on CIV talk with your veterinarian or visit our Canine Influenza Virus information page

If you are missing a class that you know about in advance please let your instructor know so you can get the scoop on what you will be missing. If you have to miss a class due to unexpected circumstances, you can contact your instructor via email to see what you have missed before the next class.  Unfortunately we are unable to offer make up sessions.

We definitely encourage family members to be involved in the training process for your four legged family member. However, class may not be appropriate for very young children. Please review our Class Policies.

If your child is at least 13 years of age and excited to be the primary trainer for your family dog, absolutely! Parents must attend class with their children, except in the case that the child is at least 16-years old.

You will receive a confirmation email after registration with instructions on what to bring to class. Most classes ask you to bring:

  • A copy of your dog’s vaccination records (first class only)
  • Standard, Flat Collar (no choke or prong collars)
  • 4’ or 6’ Leash
  • Yummy Treats
  • Kong, Bully Stick or Greenie – these will serve as a “doggie pacifier” for the many times in class when you wish to encourage quiet behavior
  • Dog’s mat

Food is a popular motivator for most dogs which is why we prefer this for training. We want to make training fun and exciting to the dog. The more enticing the motivator the most inclined the dog will perform the behavior. We also use food to lure the dog into position, such as a sit or a down. This way we are not making them sit instead we are showing them what we want with the food.

We use food in the beginning of training to communicate what exactly we want and if the behavior gets reinforced many of times with good things for the dog the behavior is more likely to happen again. If you were to go to work and get a raise for doing a great job in the office you would be more inclined to keep it up. That is the way we can look at food as a motivator to increase wanted behavior. Eventually once your dog “gets” the behavior, you can start to wean he or she off the food and have the reinforcer coming at random to keep the dog guessing.

The best kind of food as a reinforcer is soft, small easy to chew bits so the dog can eat it fast and you can continue training. The dog only needs a small taste of the treat on his or her mouth to be rewarded. Example of high value treats, Natural Balance food logs, and meat, meat based baby food and cheese.

Classes are a great way to build confidence in the presence of other people and dogs! The classes offered by the East Bay SPCA focus on individual training between you and your dog. Classes are arranged so there is space between each dog to minimize the distractions. If you have specific concerns regarding your dog’s behavior around other dogs, but still want to take a class, contact us for recommendations.

The East Bay SPCA does not test or certify dogs to be service dogs. A Service Dog is “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.” Service dogs that perform these necessary functions are required by law to be permitted in all public places. There are organizations that train and certify the dog, specific for the disability (such as Guide Dogs for the Blind in Santa Rosa trains guide dogs, Canine Companions train dogs for people who use wheelchairs, etc).

Therapy Dog is different in that a dog visits rest homes, hospitals, etc. simply for companionship and socializing. This process could be first started with our Canine Good Citizen course, which includes testing on the last day. Therapy Dogs are not required to be allowed in public places.

A clicker is a device that marks the behavior the dog has done correctly. For example if you were reinforcing a sit, the click would happen when the dog’s bum hits the floor followed by a treat. It lets the dog know what he or she is being reinforced for and acts as a promise that the reinforcer, ie.treat is coming! We highly recommend using it since it is a fast way to communicate to the dog exactly what behavior you are looking for. Class students receive a clicker at the Orientation of each class.

Have More Questions?

To contact us, please email training@eastbayspca.org.

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