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Practice Name

Canine Head Start

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Primary Location
125 East Chestnut Hill Road
Montague, MA 01351
Phone: 413-367-0094

Office Hours

Monday8 - 112 - 5
Tuesday8 - 11Closed
Wednesday8 - 112 - 5
Thursday8 - 11Closed
Friday8 - 112 - 5
SaturdayBy Appt.Closed
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Congratulations on taking the first step in establishing a training program for you and your canine companion. We are excited to help you understand the whats and whys of your dog's behaviour and how to establish a strong, long lasting relationship.

Click here for a class registration form.  We accept credit cards, as well as check or cash, for client convenience.

All classes are held at our facility in Montague, MA. 

Please review our class policies before registering for a class.

Class Policies

New! Puppy Primer 

Class designed by Susanne Schmidt. 

For puppies 8-16 weeks at the start of class.  First class is training for puppy parents, without your puppy.

Age 8-16 weeks is a critical developmental period in your puppy’s life.  They are constantly learning about their world, interpreting new experiences – is it safe, beneficial? – and developing ways to cope with the unfamiliar.  Puppies are introduced to novel sights, sounds, and textures, and their humans learn how to support them to approach new experiences with curiosity and confidence.  While puppies are having fun playing, pet parents practice reading canine body language and when to intervene to facilitate appropriate dog-dog interaction.  We focus on teaching foundational behaviors that develop your puppy’s attention and impulse control skills, such as automatic eye contact, not jumping, and settling calmly, and delve into how to give your puppy guidance with effective communication.  This class can be taken in addition to Puppy Head Start classes.

Next Session begins:

January 12, 2019 - Saturdays at 2:30pm (Schmidt)

Puppy Head Start I

No puppies the first class - Human Training Session Level I

This is the most important start you will make with your new puppy. This is for puppies ages 8-16 weeks. This class focuses on the Problem Prevention Program and Fundamentals of Training and Socialization developed by Elise McMahon and Anne Marie Forde in the early 90s. In this class we work on basic obedience commands and focus exercises, we introduce puppies to new obstacles, substrates, people and other puppies during this critical period of socialization. It is a great class for new puppy owners where topics from housebreaking, chewing, mouthing, and a myriad of other important topics are covered.

This is a five week class. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • December 10, 2018 - Mondays at 7pm (Schmidt) - Special 2 week intersession course!
  • January 13, 2019 - Sundays at 1:00pm (Purington)

Puppy Head Start II

No puppies the first class - Human Training Session Level II

A class for puppies who have completed PKI or are starting after 16 weeks of age. In this class we build on the basics that puppies have learned in PKI, strengthening the puppies understanding of the commands and introducing higher levels of performance. Some of the things we work on in this class include polite greeting behaviour, good leash manners, and building duration with Sit & Down.

This is a five week class. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • January 7, 2019 - Mondays at 6pm (Schmidt)
  • January 13, 2019 - Sundays at 11:00am (Purington)

Advanced Puppy Head Start

Puppies who have completed Puppy Head Start I & II are eligible for the Advanced Puppy Head Start class. We expand our work on leash manners, polite greeting, building Stay and conditioning a broader concept of Leave It, among other things. The benefit of continuing in a Puppy level class is that play sessions are worked into the class schedule and the young dogs continue working on material appropriate for their age.

This is a five week class. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • January 12, 2019 - Saturdays at 1:30pm (Schmidt)

Beginner Bascis (Levels I, II & Advanced)

No dogs the first class of Beginner Basics I

Is your dog overly stimulated around other dogs or people? This is our series for older puppies or adults who have had no prior class training experience. This is a great class for the newly adopted rescue dog! We work on focus exercises and shaping in level I. Levels II & III work on establishing good training skills for the humans and learning skills for the dog. 

These are five week classes. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • January 8, 2019 - Tuesdays at 6pm (Schmidt) - Level I
  • January 8, 2019 - Tuesdays at 7pm (Schmidt) - Level II

Companion Dog (Levels I, II & III)

In this class we build on the basics that have been taught in Beginner Adult. We focus helping your dog become a well integrated member of your family. Some of the things we work on in this class include polite greeting behaviour, walking by highly desirable objects without grabbing for them; good leash manners, nice recalls and good stays.

This a five week class. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • January 9, 2019 - Wednesdays at 5:30pm (McMahon) Level I

Therapy Dog Prep Class

Do you think you have a dog who would be a great canine ambassador and want to get your dog ready to get a therapy dog certification? This class is perfect for building all of the behaviours you will need to send you and your canine pal sailing through a therapy dog test.

These are five week classes. $150 

Next Sessions Begins:

  • November 7, 2018 - Wednesdays at 7pm (McMahon) Full
  • January 9, 2019 - Wednesdays at 6:30pm (McMahon)

Canine Good Citizen & Canine Good Citizen Advanced

The AKC developed the Canine Good Citizen test to certify and award those dogs who have demonstrated polite dog to dog and human interactive skills. Teach your dog good manners and the skills it needs to be a Canine Good Citizen. 

These are five week classes. $150 CGC; $185.00 CGCA tests on a Saturday (6th week).

Next Sessions Begins:

  • January 10, 2019 - Wednesdays at 7:00pm (McMahon)

Specialty Classes

 Polite Greetings 101 & 102 

One of the most common complaints we hear from people is that their puppy or dog jumps on people. This can be a behaviour a dog offers upon greeting and a behaviour the dog engages in persistently, not limiting it to a greeting. In this class we work on teaching a polite manner of greeting people. We also train to conditions polite approach and greetings in dog/dog interactions.

These are five week classes. $150.00

Next Sessions begin:

  • January 7, 2019 - Mondays at 5:00pm (Schmidt) 

Leash Walking 101 & 102 

All to often we teach our dogs that pulling is the way to get where they want to go. In these classes we work on the all important skills of polite leash walking. Being out and about with your canine companion should be a pleasurable experience for everyone involved. Beyond teaching the skill of walking on a loose leash we often want our dogs to be able to walk for sustained periods by our sides. This is traditionally called "heeling". Our dogs do not naturally walk as slowly as we do so this is definitely a behavior that requires learning to adjust their speed to match ours. Heeling work can be a lot of fun to train and we love working with people and their dogs to help them master this important skill.

These are five week classes. $150.00

Next Sessions begin:

  • January 13, 2019 - Sundays at 12:00pm (Purington)

Reliable Recall 101 & 102

This class is a lot of fun with a little bit of everything. A great class to use as a break from straight obedience or to begin working with a young dog. Recalls are one of every dog owners main concern. 99.9% of clients come in saying, "she is a great dog but she just does not come when I call her". Your dog's response to recall can mean life or death in some circumstances. The problem is that owners inadvertently either turn their dogs off to coming when called or they de-value the word "come" to the point that the dog simply does not pay any attention to it. Your recall is one of those commands that needs constant tune ups and constant positive reinforcement. Just because your 12 week old puppy came bounding to you every time you said "come", does mean he will be doing the same at 5 months. This class works on the recall, putting it back into a positive, consistently reinforced environment while training people how to avoid the common mistakes that so often undermine a good recall.

These are five week classes. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • January 12, 2019 - Saturdays at 3:30pm (Schmidt) Level 102

NEW! Canine Connection Course (Levels I & II)

A common frustration for dog owners is that the focus and cooperation they get from their dog while at home completely falls apart the instant they walk out the door. Some dogs do indeed get further than the actual doorway, not loosing it until they are halfway down the block and they see that first squirrel, or dog, or person or...

Are you milling through a crowd at the farmer’s market and need your dog to stay by your side?  Walking down an icy winter road and need her to slow down?  Taking that important phone call and need him to pause patiently by your side until you’re done?  The Connection CourseTMis a fun way to practice navigating everyday situations as a team.   You will develop your skills to clearly communicate your intent as you move through transitions – starts, stops, turns, changing pace and direction, and to split your attention while you carry out simple tasks.  Your dog and you learn to stay connected even when you have to attend to something else besides your dog.

Students, both canine and human, should have a good grasp on concepts like auto check-ins, decent leash manners, an idea of what Leave It and Wait might mean, and a somewhat reliable position cue, such as Sit, Down or Stand. If you and your dog can handle these concepts at home, try the Connection CourseTMto start building these skills in any environment.

The Connection CourseTMwas designed by and is grounded in Suzanne Clothier’s Relationship Centered TrainingTM.  

These are five week classes. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • November 15, 2018 - Thursdays at 7:15pm (Schmidt) 

Agility For Fun & Focus!

Class designed by Noah Rockland. This course is geared towards skill, attention work, and confidence building. While you learn how to keep your dog focus on you, your dog learns how to tackle various obstacles. For those who might want to go on in agility this course will prepare you and your dog for an intro agility course. This is also a great class for owners and dogs who have been working through a string of manners classes and want to add some splash and flash to their training! Have fun while training!

This a five week class. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • January 12, 2019 - Saturdays at 11am (Rockland)


This class is a lot of fun for dogs who have already been through the Companion Dog class. Handlers and dogs learn the steps to success and finesse. 

This is a five week class. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • TBA

Reactive Dog 101 & 102

Are you embarrassed when you are out with your dog? Have you stopped walking your dog in public places? Does your dog, bark, whine, lunge on leash, or just generally act like a tasmanian devil when he sees another dog?  This class is specially designed to work one on one with dog reactive dogs and their owners in a small group class environment. Each dog/owner team works with a trainer. We utilize visual barriers to help keep all dogs below their reactive threshold. 

Some dogs are not yet ready to work in a group setting, even with a dedicated trainer to each team and visual barriers. For these dogs we offer individual training packages with the goal of transitioning them into the Reactive Dog classes.

This class is limited to 4 dog/owner teams. It is a 5 week class.
Fee: $300.00 Each dog must schedule Behavioral Intake Evaluation prior to participating in this class. Exceptions: dogs currently in individual sessions looking to transfer into the class training setting.

Next Session begins:

  • January 12, 2019 - Saturdays at 12:15pm

Training with Tricks 

If you love shaping or want to learn more about this training technique, this is the class for you. Add new behaviors to your dogs repertoire and strengthen your own training skills.

This is a five week class. $150.00

Next Session begins: TBA 

Advanced Skills Classes

Continuing Ed Classes (Levels I, II & III)

This is a series of classes for dogs who have successfully completed classes up to Canine Good Citizen. We begin working on off leash skills. This class is tailored to each group of dogs and we often develop exercises to meet the particular needs of the group.

These are five week classes. $150.00

Next Session begins:

  • TBA

Advanced Skills (Levels I, II & III)

We love teaching this class. It is a tremendous amount of fun for dogs, handlers and instructors alike. We developed this as an advanced series. This is an ideal setting for owners who want to sharpen their training skills and learn cutting edge training techniques to bring the most out in their dog. We fine tune focus, handling skills, off leash reliability, and much more. This series of cases is also tailored to the particular group of dogs in each session.Pre-requisite: CGC, Continuing Ed II.

These are five week classes. $150.00

Next Session begins: 

  • TBA

"We loved every aspect of classes. Thank you for grouping smaller dogs together for play sessions. Elise is great...we are fortunate to be associated with Canine Head Start." Tracey & Joe Follansbee & Their Dogs, Tanner & Cloe - Corgi

Suggested Readings

Browse through our Suggested Readings list.


I have trained at other facilities and found better instruction and more individual attention here at Canine Head Start.

- J. Friedman / Amherst, MA

To man or dog, child or puppy, the greatest deterrent to supreme happiness is ennui: boredom resulting from lack of something to do.

This is what prevents dogs from achieving their greatest potential.

  - Clarence Pfaffenburger

   Skateboarder - Obi, loved and trained by Noah Rockland        

  • 413-367-0094
  • 125 East Chestnut Hill Road Montague, MA 01351
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