Back to School for Fido

Back to school is an exciting time for children, but have you ever considered sending Fido back to school as well?


Fall is not just an adjustment for humans; it marks an adjustment for dogs as well. Fall weather often replaces lazy days in the backyard with more indoor activities. Shorter walks as the temperatures drop often replace long hikes or sessions at the dog park. September also marks the start of many organized activities and sports, which can mean more time alone at home for our four-legged family members.



Some dog adoptions at Calgary Humane Society come with required classes, like our “Polite Pooches” obedience course. This class teaches basic manners and life skills that dogs will need to be successful in a home. These skills include sit, down, stay, and loose-leash walking. Human graduates of Polite Pooches leave with a solid training foundation and a better understanding of how to build a relationship with their dog. Basic obedience is a great start, but did you know that regular attendance at a training class can enrich the life of even the most well-trained dog?



Many people associate training with having a “good dog” and mistakenly believe that well-behaved dogs will not benefit from training classes.

Training is more than just teaching your dog how to do something. Training provides your dog with a “job”. This regular activity with goals and rewards keep their brain busy and working towards an appropriate goal, much like a job you or I might have. A regular training session or “job” for your dog provides mental and physical enrichment as well as valuable one-on-one time between you and your canine companion.

Once you have decided to head back to school with Fido, it’s time for the fun part: choosing a class. Dogs that enjoy moving, running or jumping may excel in agility while a dog that loves to sniff would likely enjoy scent work. Would your dog play fetch for hours? Consider a flyball class! Looking to expand your dog’s life skills? Look for a course that prepares the dog for the Canadian Kennel Club’s “Good Neighbour” exam, like the “Canine Challenge”.



Heading back to school is also a great option for dogs that are exhibiting undesirable behaviours.

For example, if your dog lunges and growls at other dogs, our “Reactive Rover” class is a great option to address those concerns. Fearful dogs that experience anxiety in daily life might blossom in “Fearful Fido”, a class specifically created to address fearful behaviours.

Group classes provide an opportunity for dogs to build and practice new skills while surrounded by distractions. If you want to address a very specific behaviour that requires one-on-one attention, a group class may not offer this opportunity. Shift work or erratic family schedules may also make attendance at a regular weekly class difficult. Private consultations provide an excellent option for anyone who wants to address specific behaviour concerns or those who are unable to attend a scheduled weekly class. Private consultations are one-on-one sessions with a trainer that allow you to work on your specific goals and concerns. After deciding between private consultations or classes, you will need to choose a trainer or class.


Start by checking out the websites or brochures for the trainers or classes you are considering.

Look for answers to the following questions:

  1. How much experience does the trainer have?
  2. Does the trainer show a commitment to ongoing professional development by completing certifications, attending continuing education seminars, and/or keeping up to date on the latest research?
  3. What is the training philosophy used?
  4. Is the trainer able to provide references?
  5. How many dogs are in the class?

While the above questions provide a good place to start, remember to consider your personality and your dog’s disposition when selecting a class. Whether you are training to address specific concerns or for enjoyment, the focus should be on building and maintaining a good working relationship between you and your dog.



For more information on the training classes and options offered by Calgary Humane Society, or advice on selecting the right class, contact the Behaviour Helpline at 403-723-6019. Details on our behaviour classes can be found at