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The Dog Classroom takes new approach to puppy school

After a long career as a registered vet technician, Ann-Marie Mayes started organizing puppy schools, which led to her creating The Dog Classroom
(The Dog Classroom)

Ann-Marie Mayes worked as a registered vet technician for 20 years. She began to organize puppy school at the clinic where she worked. Classes were added as demand increased and Mayes gradually expanded to a separate space for the dog classes.

“We eventually decided to grow the business, so I got own space, and that’s when The Dog Classroom came about,” she says.

As her business grew, she went from leasing a space to adding a 2,000 square foot building on her own property. Over a decade later the location has further evolved, adding a fully fenced in a side yard and an agility field. She also has trails in the back, utilizing as much of the land as possible for training.

“As I offered more classes I’m now a Certified Professional Dog Trainer CCPDT. I continued with behaviour cases and that grew as well,” she says.

Mayes is constantly updating her knowledge by attending seminars and reading the latest literature.

She credits her co-worker from the vet clinic where they worked for showing her the training techniques that eventually led to The Dog Classroom. Her staff has expanded over the years.

“There’s myself and another full-time employee,” Mayes says, “and I have 10 trainers as well.”

The Dog Classroom’s website is full or information about the difference courses available.

“We have the puppy school where we’re educating owners and getting puppies socialized. Then move into obedience, beginning with the basics. Then we encourage them to do branching out. Which could be anything from trick training to body awareness. Foot targeting and getting them ready for different sporting events.” 

There’s something for everyone. Mayes has designated courses to cater to small dogs too. This course has been especially popular during the colder months of the year. Giving the little dogs a chance to socialize and be active in a comfortable climate.

Amelia, one of the trainers at The Dog Classroom, suggested scent training courses, so they expanded to scent classes or nose work classes. Initially dogs are trained to find food, a sort of hide and seek game so they understand the concept. “It eventually builds to having them look for actual scents other than just food. When spring comes around she’ll be able to do more stuff outside.”

“People have also shown an interest in retrieve,” Mayes says. “A lot of time with fetch, if you put an object in front of them, they don’t necessarily pick it up.”

Once dogs understand the concept of picking up objects and putting them down, retrieving can become more than a game. Kelsey, one of her trainers has her dog take out the recycling.

Mayes highlights the importance of mental stimulation, positive reinforcement and having fun as the keys to successful dog and owner training.

“My dogs are my hobby too, I enjoy doing different sports and tricks and stuff with them,” she says. 

As dogs progress they have more advanced trick classes designed for dogs that are ready for a challenge.

In the spring The Dog Classroom offers their walk and recall/walking and greeting.

“I didn’t think this would be a popular program but people really love it. We get a group together, a class, and we walk together to different places in the city. It’s been really good because I help people with issues they come up on with walking in neighbourhoods and distractions.”

The Dog Classroom has also recently launched fun and informative podcast packed with great tips, the latest training techniques and different aspects of life with pets.

Courses are also available online if you can’t make it to The Dog Classroom location. Check their Facebook Page for updates and all the courses ongoing at The Dog Classroom.

For more information their phone line is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at (807) 476-6646 or email:

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