All of our classes are based on evidence-based methods of training to ensure an effective and enjoyable learning experience for you and your dog. Our training techniques are based on rewards rather than reproof.
MSPCA-Boston training classes are held at the MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center, 350 So. Huntington Ave., Jamaica Plain.
Class Descriptions: which class should I take with my dog?
Puppies under 5 months
Puppy Play 'n Learn! According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists (AVSAB), it is critical for young puppies to be socialized with lots of other dogs and people before they are five months old.
Puppies and dogs over 5 months old
Beginner Pet Obedience! If your puppy is well-socialized with other dogs and people, you may sign up for Beginner Pet Obedience before they are 5 months old. Dogs of every age are welcome…all dogs can learn!
If your dog is experienced with rewards-based training, and has some rudimentary training such as sit/down/stay/walk on a loose leash, you are ready to take nearly any level 2 class, such as Next Level, Precision Obedience, Rally Obedience, Obility or Agility.
If you are interested in the newest rage in dogdom, try "Nosework!" Your dog will learn the same scent discrimination skills as police dogs!Please note that we are unable to accommodate overly reactive or aggressive dogs in our classes at this time. If you have a reactive or aggressive dog and need training help, please contact the Training Coordinator, Michalla Bishop. She can arrange for you to see Dr. Bright in a private behavioral consult.
We believe in preschool and grad school for dogs! If you register for more than one class in advance, you get a discount! Your choices are:
PURCHASE HERE for Puppy Package 2
PURCHASE HERE for Dog Package
To pick a single class, click the class name below:
In this class, you will learn how to teach your dog to work for you for fun rewards, and the behaviors that will be taught in the class are: sit, stay, lie down, coming when called, "Leave it," go to your mat, and loose-leash walking. These are the foundation behaviors that make your dog a good and well-behaved family member.
Longer stays, better recalls, better attention to you, and adding distractions so your dogs (and you) can continue to be challenged in this fun training class. Prerequisite: Level 1 Obedience or permission of the Training Coordinator.
Prequisite: Level 2 Obedience
CLICK HERE TO SEE DATES AND ENROLL for 4 week Level 2.5 (taught occasionally)
Prequisite: Level 2 Obedience and permission from the instructor, Email Michalla Bishop for more information.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Obedience or permission of the Training Coordinator. The test is given about 3 times a year; email the Training Coordinator if you want to be notified when the next CGC test takes place.
Precision Obedience is a training class that focuses on the precise behaviors needed by dogs and handlers in order to prepare to participate in the sport of Competition Obedience, either via the AKC (American Kennel Club) or the CDSP (Companion Dog Sports Program). Whether you want to win a ribbon someday with your dog or not, teaching dogs at this level of meticulousness is fun and challenging, and builds a strong bond between the human handler/teacher and the canine student. Our methods are consistent with our mission of kindness and care towards animals, so your dog will have fun in class and always look forward to learning. Perfection is not the goal, since humans and dogs alike seldom achieve flawlessness; instead, the goal of Precision Obedience is to engage and challenge our best friends with new tasks that are fun to learn and intellectually stimulating, while preparing for eventual competition if desired. Here is a video of our Precision Obedience instructor, Jane Young, demonstrating the skills you and your dog can learn: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=Nr4pLO8GMmg
Note: Level 1 Beginner Pet Obedience or permission from the Training Coordinator are prerequisites for this class. Email Michalla Bishop for more info!
Prerequisite: completion of Beginner Pet Obedience ( preferably with a hand or finger targeting behavior)
Enhance your relationship with your dog, challenge his or her doggy mind, work off his extra energy, and entertain your friends by teaching your food-motivated dog some fun tricks. In this class you’ll learn the fundamentals needed to teach tricks like roll over, jump through a hoop, and retrieve. You will also design a trick uniquely suited to your dog and learn how to combine various simple tricks to make more complex and astounding tricks. You and your dog will move at your own pace, from stately to superstar, and have an opportunity to show off your accomplishments in class.
Email Michalla Bishop to register
"Nosework" is the next big thing in dog training! It is a fun sport that involves teaching your dog to follow his nose to find different scents. Based upon the work that police and bomb- and airport-sniffing dogs do, you dog learns first to find the box that has food in it. Over repeated lessons, the food is then paired with a scent, and the dog continues the hunt! The result is a dog who can search a space for that particular smell. Dogs LOVE this sport, as sniffing is something they were born to do! You will smile with pride as you watch your dog learn how to, well…be such a DOG!
Our homeless dogs are learning too! Here they are at their first lesson: One box has a bowl of food in it, and the dogs are following their noses! Dogs from Adoption Center learning to find food in a box
Your dog will be crated or waiting in your car when it is not their turn; this is the only prerequisite for the class.
Intro to Nosework
(Choose "Nosework" from the menu when you pay for all NW classes.)
You have taken two Nosework classes, and your dog can hunt for odor. Email Training Coordinator Michalla Bishop permission to join the class.
Research has shown that the early weeks of a puppy's life are crucial to social development, with other dogs and with people. For that reason, this class is especially for puppies who are 8-20 weeks old, and is a drop-in format. You will pay $150 for four classes and come at your convenience until your pup is five months old. Additional classes can be purchased in blocks of four classes. Puppies will get to socialize and spend time learning to learn; you will get puppy tips and will learn how to teach your puppy to grow up to be a good dog. Every day that goes by without socializing and training your young pup is a day lost to his or her social future- register today! Your puppy should have been seen by a vet and be deemed healthy before you bring it to class. Puppies in class may not have received all of their vaccinations. If you are conceernd about this, speak to your vet.
What to bring to Puppy PNL:
Class will be in the Education Room: drive past the MSPCA entrance, around to the left, and park across from the white fence. Walk up the stairs to the Ed Room.
Please note: Unless you have a note from your vet showing a medical reason your puppy could not attend, we do not give refunds for PPNL classes if you do not bring your puppy to class.
Classes are on Saturdays at 1PM and 2PM. 1PM is for the bigger/older puppies and 2PM is for the smaller/younger or timid puppies.
If you are not sure which class your pup belongs in, email Training Coordinator Michalla Bishop.
CLICK HERE TO ENROLL for Puppy Play n Learn (all classes are on Saturday; you may start as soon as you enroll.)
In this class, you and your dog will learn the pre-requisite skills needed to play the fun and fast-growing sport of Canine Agility. In this class, you and your dog will learn behavioral shaping games involving standing on things that move; they will also learn to jump and go through tunnels. Even more important, they will learn to stay and watch their handler and play games while other dogs jump and go through tunnels.
Class dogs should have taken a Beginner Obedience Class at an MSPCA, have taken an Obedience Class elsewhere, and/or the dogs should be able to pay attention to their owner in a room full of other moving dogs.
BEFORE YOU REGISTER: If your dog has NOT taken an MSPCA class before, please email Training Coordinator Michalla Bishop with the details of your dog's prior training, and get permission to register! If you have any doubts about your dog's ability to give you some attention in a classroom full of other dogs, please register for Beginner Obedience instead, and plan to take Obility in the next go-round!
Rally Obedience is a fun sport that combines the precision of competition Obedience with the fun of Agility.
In “Rally O,” it is sometimes called, the dog and handler learn 13-20 behaviors that are standard Obedience behaviors: come, sit, heel, down, stay, along with different turns, and jumps are added for fun! The challenge is that the signs are laid out in a course (see the signs here) , and the dog and handler complete the timed course in a specific manner with as few “faults” as possible. The owners are encouraged to talk to their dogs and make the experience a lot of fun for all.
Rally is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. Sign up and give it a try!
(Your dog must, at minumum, be able to sit and walk at your left side to take this class. If you and your dog have not taken a class at the MSPCA before, please email Michalla Bishop for permission to register!)
Your dog has not taken Agility or Obility before, but you have trained your dog using rewards. (If you have relied on equipment such as a pinch collar or leash corrections and are interested in taking Agility, please email Training Coordinator Michalla Bishop You must send your dog's training history to get permission to take this class if you have not taken classes at the MSPCA. Classes run for 6 weeks. Start dates are tentative depending on the weather!
You have taken one rewards-based class in Agility at the MSPCA or elsewhere, and your dog can perform all of the equipment in class, except, perhaps, the weave poles.
Is your dog “fluent” on all the Agility equipment except perhaps the weaves? Do you have a start-line stay and leadout? Front and rear cross? Are you ready to take it to the next level and learn some speed, handling and control? Do you hope to compete someday?
Prequisite: In order to sign up for this class you must have permission from the instructor, please email Training Coordinator Michalla Bishop
Welcome! If you have scrolled down to here, and did not find the class you hoped for, please call the Behavior Department (contact info below) to let me know what you would like to learn with your dog!
To secure a spot in our classes, you must pay for the class in full and complete a registration form. Once we have received your information and payment, we will send a confirmation to you.
We require that dogs attending classes are up-to-date on their rabies vaccine and current on all other vaccines per their vet's recommendation. All family members are welcome in class, however, please email the Director for permission for children under the age of 7 whom you want to bring to class.
Refund Policy: All classes are on a first come / first served basis. If the class you were interested in has filled, you will be contacted about alternate class availability. If you find you are unable to take a class after registering for it, you must notify the office 10 days prior to the start of the class. Notification after 10 days will result in you forfeiting 50% of your registration fee. Sorry, no exceptions! There will be no tuition refund once class has started. If you must miss a class, please notify the instructor beforehand, so you may be given make-up homework.
~Dr. Terri Bright
For more information, call the Behavior Department 617/989-1520.