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Training School class descriptions

Training School class descriptions

At Animal Humane Society Training School, students will learn practical skills for creating a well-mannered member of their household.

Introduction to Dog Training

This class is the first step to joining our Training School. Come learn about our program and the variety of classes and playgroups we offer!  Educational materials about a variety of dog and puppy behaviors will also be provided. You may participate online or in person.

Off-Leash Puppy Kindergarten (Socialization and Fun!)

This class is for our youngest canine friends (under 18 weeks). Your puppy will play with other puppies, meet new people, learn all kinds of new skills and develop confidence in new situations.

Level 1 (Foundation Skills)

This level focuses on basic obedience, management skills, getting your dog’s attention, jumping up, pulling on leash and more!

Level 2 (Skill Building)

Students in this level will continue working on foundation skills while adding more advanced behaviors.

Level 3 (Reliability)

The goal of this class is to help build more reliable behaviors. You will begin working with your dog at greater distances and around higher distractions. This will help prepare you to face the distractions of the “real world.”

Level 4 (Canine Good Citizen Level)

The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test is a test put on by the AKC to reward responsible dog owners who have taken the time and effort to raise well-mannered pets. This class works to build the skills that are needed to pass the CGC. (Note:  taking the test is not mandatory.)

AKC Community Canine

AKC Community Canine is the advanced level of AKC’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program. As with the CGC, AKC Community Canine has a 10-skill test that dogs must pass to earn the official AKC Community Canine title. This test evaluates the dog’s skills in a natural setting instead of an obedience class. If your goal is Therapy Dog but you’d like more practice before taking the class, AKC Community Canine is perfect for you!

Therapy Dog

Does your dog enjoy people? Would you like to make a difference in your community? If you answered yes to both of these questions then volunteering as a therapy dog team might be just for you! After your dog passes the CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Test, you are eligible to enroll in the therapy dog class. Therapy Dog is a ten week class, with set start and end dates. See our Therapy Animals page for more details. 

Tricks and Games

This class is all about fun! Students will learn how to teach basic tricks and will work on a different challenge each week. There are also fun games to play! This class is open to students who have completed our Level 3 or for students who have their CGC certification.

Reactive Rovers

This class is designed for dogs that bark, snark or growl at other dogs. We will help you learn to walk your dog past other dogs and teach your dog to react to other dogs calmly. This class is not appropriate for dogs who react fearfully or aggressively to people. Due to the nature of reactive rovers, this class is not part of the standard pass.

The Nose Knows

Inspired by the work of scent detection dogs, The Nose Knows allows your dog to use his most natural training tool – his nose! Students will practice fun canine scent games that will teach their dogs to find hidden “prizes” and provide mental as well as physical stimulation. Scent work is not only fun, but also a great confidence builder for young dogs. Level 2 graduates are welcome to enroll in this class. The Nose Knows I and The Nose Knows II are both conducted as a series of six classes with each class building upon the knowledge learned in the previous class.

Private Sessions

We offer private one-on-one sessions with an AHS trainer. Trainers can work with you and your pet on anything from basic obedience to housebreaking to behavior problems. Private sessions are $75 per hour ($40 for 30 minutes) at our Golden Valley location. Please call to schedule a session.


Review our Training School FAQ, call us at 763-489-2217, or send an email.


Pet behavior helpline

Pet Behavior Helpline
(763) 489-2202

We’re here to answer your behavior questions about your pet, and we might just be able to help you resolve an issue that will keep your pet at home, with you.

Please call Animal Humane Society's Behavior Helpline with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s behavior. Animal Humane Society Training and behavior staff will provide you with action steps and resources to help resolve any issues. All messages will be returned within 24 hours.

You may also find assistance with your pet’s behavior by reviewing our pet behavior library.

Canine Good Citizen test

Canine Good Citizen test

The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test (CGC) is a certification program that evaluates dogs in simulated everyday situations in a relaxed, noncompetitive atmosphere.

The purpose of the test is to ensure that dogs are respected members of their communities and are trained to act mannerly in the home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs. Dogs that pass the CGC test are deemed to be reliable family and community members and will receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club.

Any dog is eligible to take the CGC test. All dogs are welcome to be tested at AHS whether or not they have been through the Training School at AHS or other training programs. There is a $10 fee to take the test for dogs not currently enrolled in AHS’s Training School. The fee for current students is $5.

For a detailed description of the Canine Good Citizen program, please click to visit the American Kennel Club's website.

The test is offered at our Golden Valley and Coon Rapids locations. See our Training School schedules for upcoming dates.

Registration is required to take the CGC test. Please call (763) 489-2217 to register.

The ten-step CGC certification tests the following:

  • Greets a friendly stranger.
  • Sits politely for petting.
  • Welcomes being groomed, brushed; allows paws and ears to be handled.
  • Walks as directed on a loose leash.
  • Moves politely through a crowd.
  • Sits, lies down and stays in place on command.
  • Comes when called.
  • Behaves politely around other dogs.
  • Reacts with confidence to distractions.
  • Can be left with a trusted person.

The CGC test is a requirement for owners and dogs interested in the animal therapy program.


Review our Training School FAQ, call us at 763-489-2217, or send an email.

Dog playgroups

Dog playgroups

We offer a number of playgroups and socialization opportunities for your pet at our Golden Valley location. See the schedule for details.


Small Dog Playgroup is a mixed-age group for dogs that are 20 lbs. and under.

Puppy Playgroup is a group for puppies under 5 months of age. Small or shy puppies might feel more comfortable in our Featherweight group.

Featherweight Playgroup is a mixed-age group for dogs under 10 lbs. Occasionally we allow larger shy dogs into this group as well. 

Teen Puppy Playgroup is a group for adolescent dogs ages 5 to 12 months who play well with other dogs. Due to the boisterous nature of adolescent play, this group is not appropriate for toy breeds. Toy breeds are welcome at our small dog playgroups.

Cost per session: $10 for the general public; $7 for current students
Playgroup punchcards (6 sessions total) can be purchased at $50 for non-students/$35 for current students.

Some reminders

Staff supervision is an important element of our playgroups. We want to educate you about appropriate play and keep your pet safe. Please follow all staff directions. 

All dogs coming to playgroups must arrive and be checked in within the first 15 minutes of the session. Dogs arriving after the first 15 minutes will not be allowed in. This is to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all dogs that come to play. There is a limited amount of space in playgroups so it will be on a first come first served basis. When the room is full, all other dogs will be turned away. 

If it is your first time to a playgroup, please arrive a few minutes early in order to have your dog’s vaccinations checked and fill out the necessary paperwork. You can print and fill out our waiver ahead of time. 

Note for Golden Valley classes: classes on the hour (:00) are in the Multi-purpose room. Please enter at the rear of the building. For classes at quarter after the hour (:15), please enter at the front of the building and proceed to the Auditorium.

All dogs must bring proof of current vaccinations:
We require distemper/parvo for all dogs.
If your dog is 3 mos or older, we also need bordetella.
If your dog is 4 mos or older, we also need rabies.
If you are unsure about your dog's vaccinations, please call ahead at (763) 489-2217.

Pottying your dog before playgroup is essential! We recommend toileting your dog before you get in the car, and also after you arrive. Leave enough time for your pet to relax enough to eliminate, using our Pet Exercise areas only. Feeding your pet after playgroup rather than before can reduce the number of poop accidents. Owners of dogs that mark must bring their pets in a belly band or sani-panties. We will stop all play while you clean up after your pet’s accident. Help us keep accidents to a minimum.

Staff dogs are dogs that belong to our instructors or volunteers, have outstanding social skills with other dogs and have shown an aptitude for helping other dogs with developing social skills learn how to behave in a group. These dogs may be large, medium, or small, but they are there because they serve an important function.

Questions? Call the Training School at 763-489-2217 or click here to email

Dog training

Dog training classes

Flexible, pet-oriented, family-friendly. Animal Humane Society’s Training School is designed to help you fit pet training into your life. Our format allows you to go at your own pace. We encourage full participation by all family members, including children. With AHS Training School, you will learn real life skills you can use with your pet.

We offer a Levels Program with a 2- or 4-month training pass allowing you flexibility with your schedule. Each week we offer more than 60 classes at our Coon Rapids, Golden Valley and Woodbury locations and at Now Boarding near the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Private sessions are also available at our Golden Valley and Woodbury locations. See a complete list of classes and options.

Here's how to get started in our Training School:

Step 1: Attend a free introductory session.

Before you enroll, you must attend one of our free, humans-only Introduction to Dog Training sessions. You can participate online or in person.

Step 2: Submit an application and tuition.

Complete the application and pay the course fee online, by mail, or in person.

Step 3: Start training.

Once your application is approved, you can start attending classes at one of four convenient training centers. Choose the time and location that work best for you.



Review our Training School FAQ, call us at 763-489-2217, or send an email.

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