Frequently Asked Questions: Secondary School

How old should my dog be when we start?

As long as your dog is friendly toward people and dogs, has not history of biting dogs or people, no record with Animal Control or Public Health, and is healthy, you can join!

If your dog is in the age range for Primary School, (8-12 weeks for med/Lg/XL breeds & 8-16 weeks for XS/S breeds), that would be the best choice. Otherwise, there is no age limit for Secondary School. We have dogs from 12 weeks of age up to 12 years of age! The sooner the better, but they’re never too old to learn.

I WAS told me to wait until my dog is six months old

Oh gosh no! Please don’t. Puppies learn incredibly fast and if we wait until they’re six months of age, we’ve missed a pretty critical developmental period. Get thee to school, stat!


Many rescue dogs need a good three weeks to “decompress” and get comfortable. The first three weeks are often the “honeymoon period” where everything seems just fine, but as they get comfortable, their true colours shine through and that might include behaviours you didn’t anticipate - barking and lunging at people or dogs, resource guarding toys or food, etc.

You won’t always see these clues in advance, so we ask that you spend a few weeks getting to know your dog and even booking a private lesson or two to prevent the big change post-honeymoon period! Email us and we can help!

Rescue dogs under 6mo do not have to wait the 30 days.

Which shots or care does my dog need before starting?

In order to start Secondary School classes, the requirements are: a healthy puppy who has had at least two sets of shots (Distemper, Parvovirus), and if over 6mo of age, we do require the Rabies vaccine. If your dog is over 1 year, you can choose to titer them and provide us with a letter from your Veterinarian. If your puppy has been diagnosed with an intestinal parasite, please read on! 

My dog has been diagnosed with [______}. Can we still come to class?

Notify us right away.

We have a protocol for parasite-positive dogs in our classes. Once your dog has been on treatment (from your vet) for 5 full days, we allow them in class but the most important part is to give the dog a "bum bath" because after a bowel movement, the parasite can remain on the outside fur/skin, which can then be transmitted to other dogs / people. During class we would just be very careful and redirect any dog who is investigating your dog's back end.

If your dog has been diagnosed with CPV (Canine Papilloma Virus), please do not make contact with other dogs unless you have just washed your hands thoroughly. Do not allow your dog to share toys, water bowls, chews, or bones.

If your dog has been coughing, honking, or gagging, or if they have been diagnosed with Kennel Cough (Bordatella), please do not come to class! At the first sign of this, notify us and your vet for further direction but do not come to class.

If your dog is showing signs of illness or injury, see your Veterinarian and notify us so that we can devise a plan to avoid contact if your dog is contagious, or adjust the training to accommodate your dog’s limitations.

Should we do private lessons instead of classes?

If your dog is experiencing behaviour challenges, then private lessons are likely the way to go. If you’re looking to learn the basics, our classes are perfect for that. If you are having a hard time deciding, Email us and we’ll help!

Can my kids come to class?

We are more than happy to have children (6yrs+) in attendance! Of course, because this is a group environment, we do have to have rules. Please ensure they have something to work on just in case the classes are not quite up their alley. A few ideas - colouring book, reading book / magazines, iPod and earbuds with quiet music, a tablet or video game device on "silent". Children must never run, shriek/yell, pet/pick up anyone else's dog, and they must be attended at all times. Please read our guidelines for children/families. 

How many dogs in the class?

We have a max of 4-5 dogs per class to ensure each of our clients get enough individual attention and are not overwhelmed. 

Is there off-leash playtime for the dogs in class?

Not at this level, unless the instructor feels that time will allow and all parties are matched appropriately. 

My dog is scared [of other dogs, people, etc] will s/he be okay in classes?

It will depend on your dog’s age and their response. If their fear overwhelms them and they have a hard time learning/retaining, then private lessons are best. If their fear provokes barking, lunging, growling, snarling, snapping, biting, and/or urinating, private lessons are absolutely best.

If your dog’s fear is very mild and they are comfortable in a group environment, then s/he might be okay. Email us and let’s work that out together.

What kind of collar should my dog wear?

We require extra-small dogs, small dogs, and puppies under 6 months to be equipped with a back-clip harness (we sell these as well!) and a flat leash. Because puppies are very delicate (yes - all breeds are delicate in puppyhood!) as they grow and develop, we require a harness rather than a collar because we do not want you inadvertently damaging your puppy's neck, spine, thyroid, oesophagus, ligaments, and nerves - all of which can be damaged with a collar when pressure is used. We know how much puppies like to pop around and lurch toward everything exciting!

Many extra-small and small dogs are genetically predisposed to tracheal collapse and for that reason, we ask that these dogs are fitted with a back-clip harness to avoid damage.

For medium, large, and extra-large dogs, we recommend a properly fitted front-clip harness, regardless of age, size, and breed, and using a flat collar to simply hold their ID tags, city registration tag, and Rabies tag. 

We may accept dogs on flat collars, martingale collars, and head halters but may make a suggestion if we feel these are causing a problem for the dog or handler.

At no time do we allow pinch/prong collars, choke/check chains, slip-leads (including limited slip-leads), spray collars, and/or shock collars. Students whose dogs are being trained using these tools may be asked to leave and return when a more effective and humane tool has been chosen. Not sure? Ask us!

Can we do more than one class a week?

Yes! You can do two classes per week if you wish, in order to expedite the process and get as much in as you can. Many clients will do this and even purchase Top-Up Passes to continue their dog’s education!

What is covered in the classes?

POLITE WALKING | Eye contact, say please, leash-handling/mechanics, polite walking, u-turn, drop it

VET & GROOMER | Waiting room behaviour, getting on the scale, tools & handling, touch

RELAXATION | Go to mat, down, settle, stay, Calm on Cue

FOCUS & ATTENTION | Eye contact, touch, greetings, drop it

IMPULSE CONTROL | Elevator, take it, leave it, wait, say please

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE | Learn a new trick or spruce up an already learned behaviour from another class. It’s your choice!