By Karen DiCostanzo, cpdt-ka, kpa ctp
  1. Make sure your dog is hungry when class starts as it provides motivation to work! Lightly feed him earlier in the day and/or withhold meals he would normally eat just prior to training.
  2. Bring 3-4 different kinds of soft, high-value food rewards in small pieces, about the size of a pencil eraser. Examples include finely chopped bits of meat (boneless chicken thigh, pork chop, turkey breast), coarsely shredded cheese, and/or commercial treats, such as Vital Essentials mini nibs and Primal pork nibs (no endorsement implied). Avoid large, crumbly, hard, or chewy treats.
  3. Use a treat pouch, fanny pack, or garment with large pockets so that you can have your dog’s food reinforcers at the ready, hands-free. Pouches are available for purchase from us if needed.
  4. Dress your dog in a harness and 6′ snap clip lead (no slip leads or retractable leashes);no pinch/prong, choke/check, or remote/electric collars permitted. We recommend the Freedom No-Pull Harness, Balance Harness, or Perfect Fit Harness; these are available for purchase on site.
  5. Have a non-skid mat to serve as your dog’s “home base.” Unless instructed otherwise, keep your dog on leash and at least 15’away from other dogs while on our property. Dogs must be supervised and under your control at all times.
  6. Be prepared to take notes and have a folder or notebook to keep handouts organized.
  7. Arrive a few minutes early. Come inside first, with your stuff and without your dog, then bring her in once you’ve finished setting up. Give your dog one more chance to potty before entering the building and properly dispose of pet waste outside (bring pickup bags, just in case).
  8. Give your dog moderate exercise before class so that he has enough energy left for training but not so much that he can’t settle down to work with you. Remember that you are responsible for your dog’s behavior in class. If he has trouble focusing, remaining quiet, or working calmly around others, please take steps to curb this behavior as needed and/or speak with your instructor before class. See Bust Boredom Barking on the next page.
  9. Classes will be held rain or shine unless conditions are truly inclement (we will notify you if classes are canceled due to weather). Wear sturdy, athletic-type footwear and comfortable clothing that allows for ease of movement. We recommend that you dress in layers.
  10. Bring a clicker, if you have one. If you’re not familiar with clicker training or if you’d like to improve your technique, visit If you need a clicker, they are available from your instructor.

Get more helpful hints! Watch What to Expect in a Dog Training ClassEtiquette: What Is Polite in a Dog Training Class, and Shhhh: 15 Ways To Keep Your Dog Quiet In Class. You’ll need to create a free account for access to these excellent videos.

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