Friday, September 28, 2012

Does Your Dog Have C.L.A.S.S.?

We're not afraid to admit that our dog doesn't...yet.  That is until we begin Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.) training in two weeks.
I think I look like I got the class...
"So, what's C.L.A.S.S. training?" you might ask...

C.L.A.S.S. is a training program that focuses on positive reinforcement to strengthen the relationship between dog and owner.

The components of C.L.A.S.S. include:

  • Assess Real-Life Skills
  • Encourage Ongoing Training
  • Expand Opportunities for Well-Behaved Pets
  • Support Shelters/Rescues
  • Educate Responsible Dog Ownership and Positive Reinforcement
Something that's different about this training than say, the basic training we received at Petco, is that there is a component of assessment.  Each dog and their owner is evaluated on their training skills learned in C.L.A.S.S. classes through a series of real-life activities.  The three C.L.A.S.S. assessment levels include:
  • Bachelor's (B.A.) Level- Core life skills
  • Master's (M.A.) Level- Life skills with distractions
  • Doctorate (Ph.D.) Level- Team performance reliability
How classy is Athena?

Even though Athena has completed 7 weeks of basic obedience training and many people compliment us for how well she is trained, we will find out tomorrow just how classy she really is.  Before beginning the C.L.A.S.S. training we must first be evaluated to determine which level we will be placed in.  So, tomorrow we are going to meet our new trainer and take the Bachelor's (B.A.) level assessment.  Generally, here are the skills that we will be evaluated on (and my thoughts on how we will score):
  • Wait at the door (there's a 50/50 chance we will score well on this one)
  • Come and leashing up manners (come is iffy and leash up manners should be good)
  • Loose leash walking and attention (eh, we shall see how Athena is feeling tomorrow...)
  • Meet and greet (50/50...depending on how exciting the person is that she will be meeting...)
  • Leave it (What will she have to leave?  Food, toys, people?  We will fail...)
  • Wait for the food bowl (We've got this one 100%!)
  • Stay (We better get 100% on this one too!)
  • Settle (Yeah right)
  • Give and take (YEAH RIGHT!)
  • 2 Bonuses- rollover, spin, fetch, speak, or paw (We aren't honor students...)
As you can see I'm expecting a big ole' FAIL on this assessment.  Especially since the C.L.A.S.S. program prohibits the use of the Gentle Leader and we use this tool like a crutch!  Along with Athena's training assessment, we also have to pass the Student Knowledge Assessment multiple choice test about responsible dog ownership.

Even though I don't have high hopes for the assessment, I'm so excited that at the end of this new 6 week class we should be able to successfully complete all of the above skills!  In a way we are also happy that we can't use the Gentle Leader in the class or during assessments because it is our ultimate goal to have Athena trained on a flat collar.

Overall, we can't wait for this new set of classes to begin!  Have any of you gone through any C.L.A.S.S. training or something similar?  What did you think of it?

**All of the above information comes from the Canine Life and Social Skills student handbook.  You can check it out here for a full description of the training program**


  1. Good luck! I can't wait to hear how your little superstar does! She's going rock all categories by the end, I know that!

    1. Thank you! We will be sure to keep you posted. And we will FOR SURE be letting everyone know how we score on the evaluation tomorrow!!

  2. Sounds cool! So do they come to your house to assess her? I think loose leash walking is the hardest with a dog that wants to pull. Kaya & Norman have opposite walking styles. Kaya walks beside me because she knows she has to, I don't even leash her anymore, but she used to pull the living crap out of my arm. Norman, on the other hand, has always been super easy to walk on a leash, but won't stay next to me if I unleash him.

    Good luck with your class, looking forward to hearing how it goes!

    1. We actually go to the training facility for the evaluation, so it will be totally out of Athena's element.

      Loose leash walking is a huge struggle! We work on it every single day and Athena still isn't perfect. But really, what dog is?!

      Thank you and we will keep everyone posted on her progress!!