Bark University Classes Work to Keep Dogs Safe and in Their Homes

By Sean Hawkins, CAWA
Executive Director | Santa Maria Valley Humane Society

Bad behavior is the number one reason that dogs are surrendered to animal shelters.  Part of our Safety Net programs, Santa Maria Valley Humane Society has launched it’s new “Bark University” dog training classes with behavior and training expert Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA, CBCC in an effort to work with families to develop stronger relationships with their pets and to address behavior issues before those issues escalate to uncontrollable or dangerous problems.  Jody earned her Master of Science in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.  She joins the Humane Society in the newly created role of Animal Training & Behavior Manager.

Bark University is launching with an initial offering of four class categories, Bond with Your Puppy or Dog, Building Blocks, Rocket Recall and Nose Work for Fun.

The Bond with Your Puppy class is for dogs 9 weeks to 24 weeks of age at the first session. Building a trusting relationship with your puppy is critical to the foundation of life-long good behavior habits.  Puppies must have had their first round of vaccines at least 10 days prior to the first session. Skills learned in this class include leash manners, name game, Focus, Sit, Down, Come, Leave It and impulse control.

For dogs over 6 months with no history of fighting with other dogs or aggression toward humans, the Bond with Your Dog class is available. This class is a basic manners class where you will learn to work as a team with your dog. Skills learned in this class include leash manners, name game, Focus, Sit, Down, Come, Leave It and how to settle in the presence of interesting things.

The Rocket Recall class is designed to help you teach your furry family member that coming to you when called is always the best and most rewarding choice, no matter what else is going on. Skills are taught from the ground up and build to long distance and out-of-sight recalls.

Nose Work for Fun Nose work is an excellent enrichment activity that empowers your dog to build their confidence and problem-solving skills. Working as a team, with Pup leading the way, you will learn how to set up “hides” for your dog to search out food or toy rewards. Great rainy-day or excessive heat activity and can be an excellent way to build trust and bond between you and your furry family.

These 4 to 6 week classes are all taught by professional dog trainers at the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, 1687 Weet Stowell Road, Santa Maria, CA 93458 on evenings and weekends. For details on each class, including schedules and fees, visit to sign-up online.