Dog Training Classes

We’re committed to providing you and your dog with the tools you need to develop a strong and lasting relationship. All of our instructors teach using humane and effective positive reinforcement techniques. Family members (including well-behaved children) are encouraged to attend our training classes with their dogs!

Our group dog training classes are best suited for pups who are both people- and dog-friendly. If you have concerns about whether one of our course offerings is suitable for your dog, contact our trainers at 412.847.7035 or BGrosch@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

While on campus, please refrain from using our walking trails as they are designated for our staff/volunteers and canine shelter residents ONLY – thank you for your cooperation!

Vaccination Requirements

For the health and safety of all class participants, both human and canine, please provide an updated vaccination record to attend class (no exceptions).

  • Puppies 16 weeks or younger | Minimum two rounds of DHPP* and age-appropriate vaccinations including rabies – PA state law states that puppies must be vaccinated for rabies between 12-16 weeks.
    • Puppies younger than 12 weeks may not have their rabies vaccination yet, and that’s okay!
  • 5-9 months | three rounds (boosters) of DHPP* and rabies.
  • Older than 9 months | up-to-date on DHPP* and rabies.

Bordetella is strongly recommended for your pup’s best protection, but not required. *distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus vaccination.

Waiver and Policies

Guidelines/Release and Waiver of Liability

Cancellation Policy

If you have questions about any of our course offerings please email AFU@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

Puppy Training   Adult Dog Training   Dog Sports   Dog Socials

Saturday Morning Behavior Series (human-only)

Chaos to Calm: Understanding and Helping Your Leash Reactive Dog

Leash reactive dogs are those who overreact to typical things in the environment– dogs, people, animals, cars – while on a walk.  Join us for ideas to manage and begin to modify your dog’s reactive behavior.  We will explain and demonstrate techniques that you can use on walks, discuss dog body language and help you to understand your dog’s emotional state which causes reactivity. Please note that we cannot provide a personalized behavior modification plan at this class but will provide information and resources.

This is a human-only workshop; please leave your canine companion at home!

Date: Saturday, March 9 – Sold Out!

Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Your Dog is Speaking to You: Are You Listening:  Canine Body Language

One of the best things any dog owner can do is to learn how to listen to their dog. In this class, we will teach you how to “hear” what your dog is saying through a variety body language cues from their nose to their tails. We will explore the different vocalizations of dogs – decoding barks including excitement, warning, fear and frustration.

As Orhan Pamuk said, “Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”

This is a human-only workshop; please leave your canine companion at home!

Date: Saturday, April 13   Register

Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Keepin’ the Peace: Managing a Multi-Dog Household

To help keep the peace in a multi-dog household, it is important to understand group dynamics, complex relationships, how to handle conflict, management strategies and key foundational skills all of the dogs should know. This class will review not only these but also some considerations we guardians should weigh, when deciding about adding another dog to the equation.

This is a human-only workshop; please leave your canine companion at home!

Date: Saturday, May 18   Register

Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Tuition: $30 per dog family (dog family members 16 years of age or older are welcome to attend!)
Instructors: Rebecca Hilbert, CPDT-KA, FDM, CCDT, MBA, Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, DN-CET

Workshop topics – please check back for future dates!

  • Think and Learn Like Your Dog: How Dogs Learn and Socialize
  • Canine Body Language: Your Dog is Speaking to You – Are You Listening?
  • Unleash the Ways to Your Best Leash Handling Skills
  • Cooperative Care: Help Your Dog To Be a Willing Participant in Basic Care
  • Resource Guarding: It’s MINE!
  • Chaos to Calm: Managing and Helping Your Leash Reactive Dog
  • Mythbusters: Facts & Fiction About Dog
  • Home Alone: Techniques to Manage & Modify Separation Anxiety

Puppy Training

AF 301 – Kinderpuppy

For puppies who have had their 2nd DHP vaccination and are 20 weeks of age or younger. Small breed and/or shy puppies may attend until 24 weeks of age. Puppies must be dog and human friendly and non-reactive.

Puppies may start class as soon as the vaccination requirements are met (please see above “Vaccination Requirements”).

Kinderpuppy classes make learning fun through games and positive reinforcement to help your pup develop into a great companion.  All classes include puppy playtime with the exception of “Puppies Learn through Fun”. Each class focuses in on specific theme which as a whole help train a well-rounded pup and provides socialization with pups and people. Sign up for some or for all of the classes based on your team’s needs.

Tuition: $25 per dog/per class

Instructors: Barb Grosch, CPDT-KA, Hayley Wojtaszek

Kinderpuppy – Basic Manners for Puppies

For puppies who have had their 2nd DHP vaccination and are 20 weeks of age or younger. Small breed and/or shy puppies may attend until 24 weeks of age.  Puppies must be dog and human friendly and non-reactive.

Your puppy will learn basic manners like sit, down, stand and to come when called. We will also practice techniques to discourage jumping.

Note:  advance registration required; no walk-ins permitted.                           

Date: Wednesday, February 7 – Sold Out!

Date: Wednesday, March 6   Register

Time:  6:00-7:00 p.m.

Tuition: $25 per pup – humans free!

Kinderpuppy – Household Manners for Puppies

For puppies who have had their 2nd DHP vaccination and are 20 weeks of age or younger. Small breed and/or shy puppies may attend until 24 weeks of age. Puppies must be dog and human friendly and non-reactive.

This class focuses on management of common puppy issues like housetraining and puppy nipping.  Useful cues of “drop it”, “leave it” and “wait” will be taught.

Note:  advance registration required; no walk-ins permitted.

Date: Wednesday, February 14 – Sold Out!

Date: Wednesday, March 13    Register

Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Tuition: $25 per pup – humans free!

Kinderpuppy – Leash Manners for Puppies

For puppies who have had their 2nd DHP vaccination and are 20 weeks of age or younger. Small breed and/or shy puppies may attend until 24 weeks of age.  Puppies must be dog and human friendly and non-reactive.

This class will focus on social interactions with new people and places.  Skills include how to walk nicely on leash, come when called, greeting new people and dog-dog on leash greetings.

Note:  advance registration required; no walk-ins permitted.

Date: Wednesday, February 21 – Sold Out!

Date: Wednesday, March 20   Register

Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Tuition: $25 per pup – humans free!

Kinderpuppy – Fun and Games for Puppies

For puppies who have had their 2nd DHP vaccination and are 20 weeks of age or younger. Small breed and/or shy puppies may attend until 24 weeks of age. Puppies must be dog and human friendly and non-reactive.

Puppies will be introduced to beginner agility obstacles for confidence building. You will also learn about play, scent games and enrichment and how to incorporate play into training and fun with your puppy.

Note:  advance registration required; no walk-ins permitted.

Date:  Wednesday, February 28   Register

Date:  Wednesday, March 27   Register

Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Tuition: $25 per pup – humans free!

AF 302 – Puppy Manners

For puppies ages 5 months to 9 months. Basic training for the older puppy will include household manners, manners for interacting with new people and places as well as enrichment activities and brain games for your puppy. Cues to be taught include: sit, down, come, walk nicely on leash, wait politely, drop it and leave it.

Note: this is a five-week class. Please bring your pup to ALL five classes!

Upcoming Sessions:

Dates: Thursdays, February 22, 29, March 7, 14, 21 – Sold Out!

Time:  6:15-7:15 p.m.

Instructors:  Debbie Thomas, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, Mikayla Francella

Dates: Saturdays, February 24, March 2, 9, 16, 23 – Sold Out!

Time:  11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Instructors:  Sarah Stephens, CPDT-KA, Anita DeBiase

Dates: Thursdays, April 4, 11, 18, 25, May 2   Register

Time:  6:15-7:15 p.m.

Instructors:  Debbie Thomas, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, Mikayla Francella

Dates: Saturdays, April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11   Register

Time:  11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Instructors:  Sarah Stephens, CPDT-KA, Anita DeBiase

Tuition: $125 per pup (humans free!)

Adult Dog Training

AF 304 – Companion Dog Manners

For dogs that are both people and dog-friendly and 9 months or older. 

This first level class gets your dog started with the cues of sit, down, stay, coming when called and loose leash walking. Laying a solid foundation with these skills is the key to living happily with your four-legged friend. As well as good manners, class discussions will give you an understanding of why dogs do the things they do to and how to build a strong relationship with your dog.

Note:  this is a five-week class. Please bring your dog to ALL five classes!

Upcoming Sessions:

Dates: Thursdays, February 22, 29, March 7, 14, 21 – Sold Out!

Time:   7:30-8:30 p.m.

Instructors:  Debbie Thomas, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, Mikayla Francella

Dates: Saturdays, February 24, March 2, 9, 16, 23 – Sold Out!

Time:   10:00-11:00 a.m.

Instructors:  Sarah Stephens, CPDT-KA, Anita DeBiase

Dates: Thursdays, April 4, 11, 18, 25, May 2   Register

Time:   7:30-8:30 p.m.

Instructors:  Debbie Thomas, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, Mikayla Francella

Dates: Saturdays, April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11   Register

Time:   10:00-11:00 a.m.

Instructors:  Sarah Stephens, CPDT-KA, Anita DeBiase

Tuition: $125 per pup (humans free!)

AF 309 – Bashful Buddies  

This class is targeted for shy, non-reactive dogs 6 months of age or older.  Please see below information on pre-requisite requirement of phone consultation.

NOTE: If your fearful dog reacts to new people, dogs or situations with barking, lunging or aggressive behavior, individual behavior modification is needed prior to attending a group class.  Please contact us at AFU@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org for more information and referrals.

In this class, we will explore a variety of exercises to build confidence in your shy/fearful dog.  We will include meeting new people, confidence in new situations and making positive associations with vet visits and grooming activities.  This is a six-week class – please bring your dog to ALL six classes!

Upcoming Session:

Dates: Tuesdays, March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 26 – Sold Out!

Time:  6:00-7:00 p.m.

Dates: Tuesdays, March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 26 – Sold Out!

Time:  7:15-8:15 p.m.

Pre-req:  phone consultation to determine if this class is a good fit for your dog and training goals.

Please contact Donna at AFU@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org to inquire about a phone consultation; please provide a phone number contact.

Tuition: $165 per dog (humans free!)

Instructors:  Debbie Thomas, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer

Training Fun – Single Sessions

Instructors: Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, DN-CET

Leash Manners

For dogs 8 months and older that are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting. 

With spring on its way, you may be thinking about taking more walks with your dog. This session will focus on the basics of good leash handling skills making walks with your dog more enjoyable. You will learn how to hold your leash, how to combat pulling on leash, and how to connect with your dog so you aren’t relying on your leash to move your dog.

Date:   Saturday, March 2   Register

Time:    12:45-1:45 p.m.

Tuition:  $25 per dog (humans free!)

Recall Basics

For dogs 8 months and older that are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting. 

Does your dog come when called? In this session, we’ll work on that! We’ll teach your dog to come when called through fun games that will be a foundation to a reliable recall. Please bring your dog’s favorite toy. We’ll be doing fun games that include movement, so be ready to move!

Date:   Saturday, March 9   Register

Time:    12:45-1:45 p.m.

Tuition:  $25 per dog (humans free!)

Primary School Search Games

For dogs 6 months and older that are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting. This is an entry level class with no prior scent work experience required.

Interested in learning more about the game of scent work?  Join us with your dog to search for hidden food (primary scent).  These games will be mentally challenging for your dog while searching various set-ups that mimic something you would find in scent work. Your dog will be tired and enriched after using their nose to complete all the fun sniffy challenges that come their way!

Date:   Saturday,  April 13 – Sold Out!

Time:    12:45-1:45 p.m.

Tuition:  $25 per dog (humans free!)

Connecting with Your Canine

For teams that have basic foundation skills including walking on a loose leash, sit, down, come, stay.  Dogs must be dog and human friendly and at least six months old. This class is a fun option for therapy teams!

Come polish your teamwork skills in a fun and relaxed setting.  Move through courses challenging your dog to do things like sits, turns and downs.  There will also be surprise tasks for you, the handler, to do along the way. Practice skills in creative ways to strengthen your relationship!

Date:   Sunday,  April 14   Register

Time:    6:30-7:30 p.m.

Tuition:  $25 per dog (humans free!)

Outdoor Attention and Leash Manners

For dogs 8 months and older that are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting. 

In this Outdoor Session we will discuss how to hold and use your leash effectively when walking your dog. You will practice your new skills by learning fun games to improve your leash handling and maintain attention on each other while walking!

In the event of inclement weather, this class will move indoors.

Date:   Sunday, April 21   Register

Time:    1:30-2:30 p.m.

Tuition:  $25 per dog (humans free!)

Outdoor Foundation Skills

For dogs 8 months and older that are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting. 

In this Outdoor Session we will work on basic foundation skills including some helpful games to help gain your dog’s attention in an environment that is fun and distracting. These skills will be useful in many aspects of your training goals leading to teamwork!

In the event of inclement weather, this class will move indoors.

Date:   Saturday, May 11   Register

Time:    9:30-10:30 a.m.

Tuition:  $25 per dog (humans free!)

Four on the Floor

For dogs 8 months and older that are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting. 

It’s always a good time to teach your dog fun and effective ways to help your dog stop jumping! We’ll teach you how to create successful setups at home to work on jumping on people and from counter surfing. These activities will show your dog the floor and not jumping is more rewarding.

Date:   Saturday,  May 18   Register

Time:    12:45-1:45 p.m.

Tuition:  $25 per dog (humans free!)

Canine Scent Work!

AF 411 – The Nose Knows, Level One

For dogs 6 months and older that are both people and dog friendly. Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

Looking for sport that can be done indoors with dogs of all ages?  Want to exercise your dog mentally and physically? Come and find a fun way to channel your dog’s natural talent for sniffing!  Scent games are a great way to stimulate your dog while working together as a team. Watch and learn as your dog detects an odor and hunts to locate its source.  Have a good time while building skills through new search activities each week. 

Upcoming Sessions:

Dates: Sundays, February 18, 25, March 10, 17 – Sold Out!

Time: 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Instructors: Marcy Fenell, CPDT-KA, Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, DN-CET

Dates:  Sundays, May 5, 12, 19, (26-no class due to holiday) June 2   Register

Time:  6:30- 7:30 p.m.

Instructors:  Gayle Bair, CPDT-KA, Missy Marzolf

Dates: Sundays, stay tuned for spring dates!

Time: 3:00-4:00 p.m.

Instructors: Marcy Fenell, CPDT-KA, Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, DN-CET

Tuition:  $105 per dog (humans free!)

AF 412 – The Nose Knows Continues, Level Two

For dogs 6 months and older who have completed The Nose Knows 1 classes (or equivalent) and are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

Have fun and build on your scent work foundation skills with challenging new sniffing activities each week.  You and your dog will work as a team doing container, exterior, interior and vehicle searches to locate target odors.  

Upcoming Sessions:

Dates:  Sundays, Feb 18, 25, March 10, 17 – Sold Out!

Time:  3:00-4:00 p.m.

Instructors: Marcy Fenell, CPDT-KA, Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, DN-CET

Dates:  Sundays, February 25, March 3, 10, 17 – Sold Out!  

Time:  6:30- 7:30 p.m.

Instructors: Gayle Bair, CPDT-KA, Missy Marzolf April 2, 9, 16, 23

Dates:  Tuesdays, February 27, March 5, 12, 19 – Sold Out!

Time: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Instructors: Marcy Fenell, CPDT-KA, Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, DN-CET

Dates:  Tuesdays, April 2, 9, 16, 23   Register

Time: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Instructors: Marcy Fenell, CPDT-KA, Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, DN-CET

Tuition:  $105 per dog (humans free!)

The Nose Knows – Single Sessions

Instructors: Marcy Fenell, CPDT-KA | Lisa Bartel, CPDT-KA, DN-CET | 

Gayle Bair, CPDT-KA

So Much to Sniff!

For dogs 6 months and older who have completed The Nose Knows 1 classes (or equivalent) and are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

Take scent work to the next level! Come out and enjoy an evening of challenging searches in our shelter‘s on-site warehouse.

Note:  advance registration required; no walk-ins permitted.

Date: Sunday, February 18 – Sold Out!

Time:  6:30-7:30 p.m.

Tuition: $25 per dog – humans free!

Top to Bottom Interior Search  New Offering!

For dogs 6 months and older who have completed The Nose Knows 1 classes (or equivalent) and are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

Join us to search various areas of our Animal Wellness Center, from the lobby and store (top floor) to the offices and warehouse (bottom floor).

Note:  advance registration required; no walk-ins permitted.

Date: Sunday, April 7   Register

Time:  6:30-7:30 p.m.

Tuition: $25 per dog – humans free!

Clearing a Search Area

For dogs 6 months and older who have completed The Nose Knows 1 classes (or equivalent) and are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

How confident are you that you and your dog can search an area or room with an unknown number of hides?  In this session, an unknown number of hides will be placed in a room and your mission is to make sure they are ALL found!

Note:  advance registration required; no walk-ins permitted.

Date: Sunday, April 14 – Sold Out!

Time:  1:30-2:30 p.m.

Tuition: $25 per dog – humans free!

Multiple Hides

For dogs 6 months and older who have completed The Nose Knows 1 classes (or equivalent) and are both people and dog friendly.  Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

Ready to search for more? All search areas will be set with 2 or more hides!

Note:  advance registration required; no walk-ins permitted.

Date: Sunday, April 14   Register

Time:  3:00-4:00 p.m.

Tuition: $25 per dog – humans free!

Dog Sports for Fun!

AF 410 – Beginners Agility for Fun, Level One!

For dogs 1 year or older that are both people and dog friendly. Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

This course will help the dog and handler to build a strong relationship based on positive reinforcement training and fun!  A dog with basic obedience skills will be comfortable in this class. Obstacles introduced in this beginning course will include jumps, tire jump, tunnel, dog walk, a- frame and pause table.    Instructors: Elaine Mayowski, Colleen Woods

Dates: Wednesdays, May 15, 22, 29, June 5, 12, 19   Register

Note: Rain date is June 26

Time: 6:15-7:15 p.m.

Location:  Lower large outdoor grass play yard

Tuition:  $150.00 per dog (humans free!)

AF 411 – Beginners Agility for Fun, Level Two!   

For dogs 1 year or older that are both people and dog friendly. Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

Pre-req: for dogs who have completed Agility for Fun, Level One at Animal Friends or a basic agility class at another training facility.    

Continue the agility fun with level two!  This session covers the following:  stays on start line, different crosses (blind, tandem, rear), crossing behind obstacles, distance work and solid weave poles. This course will help the dog and handler to build a strong relationship based on positive reinforcement training and fun!  A dog with basic obedience skills will be comfortable in this class.  Instructors: Elaine Mayowski, Colleen Woods

Dates: Wednesdays, May 15, 22, 29, June 5, 12, 19   Register

Note: Rain date is June 26

Time: 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Location:  Lower large outdoor grass play yard

Tuition:  $150.00 per dog (humans free!)

AF 413 – Rodeo Dog 

For dogs 6 months or older that are both people and dog friendly. Dogs should be comfortable and non- reactive in a group class setting.

The purpose of Rodeo Dog is to form a bond (teamwork) with your dog and compete in a safe environment.  The dog enjoys moving around barrels and the owners find it challenging to decide the best way to work the dog.  The team starts at an easy level and works their way to harder and more challenging levels. 

Rodeo Dog results in rounded and conditioned dogs.  It demonstrates training and good teamwork. Rodeo Dog does not discriminate against any dog or handler because of a disability, accommodations can be made.  Good team work can develop with any dog and handler team. Instructors: Elaine Mayowski and Colleen Woods.

Date: Wednesday, May 1   Register

Time:  6:30-8:00 p.m.   

Location:  Lower grassy play yard

Tuition:  $25 per dog (humans free!)

Hiking Hounds

Grab a leash and hit the trail!  Join us for a  wooded walk to enjoy the wonder of winter!   A Hiking Hounds favorite! Hiking is a great way to exercise, relieve stress, and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Come out and explore a different park each month with your best friend.  Dogs and people must be in condition to hike up to three miles on unpaved trails. You will receive details the week prior to the scheduled hike. Hike Leader:  Gayle Bair, CPDT-KA

Location: Churchill Valley Greenway

This hike is approximately 2 miles on woodland paths and trails through open fields located on a former golf course. Difficulty Level: EASY.

Date:  Sunday, March 10    Register

Location:  West Park Northside

This hike is a 2 mile urban hike on flat paved paths with an opportunity to take a coffee break . Difficulty Level: EASY.

Date:  Sunday, April 14    Register

Time:  10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Tuition: $15

Please note: maximum two dogs per handler.