Training & Behavior

If you are looking for general information regarding the basics of pet adoption, training and care, please see our Pet Care & Training Page.

Behavior Help

E-mail training@awla.org or call 703-931-9241

There are many reasons why owners release their pets to shelters: moving, allergies, pets not allowed, owner illness, or pet behavior problems. While we can’t keep people from moving, cure allergies or other illnesses, or make all rental properties pet-friendly, we can help owners resolve their animals’ behavior challenges.

In an effort to keep more pets with their families, the League has behavior and training advice to address basic behavior issues. Our assistance will not replace the advice of a veterinarian or behavior consultant. In some cases, their assistance may be recommended or required. League staff members have been trained to ask questions, gather information, and provide direction and referrals to other professionals when needed. Trained staff will return your e-mail within 48 hours. We also offer classes and private training sessions to help create a plan to keep your beloved pet in your home.

Training Classes

Well-Mannered Mutts Group Training Classes

Well-Mannered Mutts is a 3 week group class for dogs six months and older to help you and your dog learn basic skills and how to communicate positively with each other! Things you and your dog will learn:
– Sit
– Down
– Loose leash walking
– Recall
– Hand targeting
– Relationship building
– and more!

Pricing:

Shelter/rescue alumni: $45
Non-shelter/rescue alumni: $60

Click here to sign up for a Well-Mannered Mutts Class

*No human aggressive animals. The dog must be wearing a properly fitted collar and/or harness with four- to six-ft leash. No prong or shock collars. No retractable leashes.Participants must bring a completed waiver and proof that their pet has current rabies, distemper, and kennel cough (bordatella) vaccines.

Introduction to Nose-work for Dogs

This class will give dogs and their people a chance to learn more about this fun sport. Nosework has become increasingly popular in the past several years. It is a great activity you can enjoy with your dog that teaches them to use their super-sniffer nose!

Nosework focuses on your dog working independently. It’s a sport that you can take to a competitive level or just have fun with at home. Nosework will challenge you and your dog in a fun way, it will help you learn to problem solve together and build your relationship. This class is great for all sorts of dogs and can especially benefit shy dogs by increasing their confidence, active and/or anxious dogs by giving them a job to do. We hope you’ll join us!

Pricing:
Shelter/rescue alumni: $15
Non-shelter/rescue alumni: $20

** Please arrive fifteen minutes early to make your payment, submit your dog’s vaccine records, and sign a liability waiver. **

Click here to sign up!

*No human aggressive animals. The dog must be wearing a properly fitted collar and/or harness with four- to six-ft leash. No prong or shock collars. No retractable leashes.Participants must bring a completed waiver and proof that their pet has current rabies, distemper, and kennel cough (bordatella) vaccines.

Private Dog Training & Cat Behavior Consults

Our private training sessions are held onsite at the AWLA and are by appointment only. We work with dogs AND cats on a range of behaviors, including but not limited to:

Dogs:
– Dog reactivity
– Shy/fearful behavior
– Basic manners and cues
– Jumping up and mouthy behavior
– Crate and house training

Cats:
– Litter box issues
– Conflicts with other cats in the home
– Destructive scratchy
– Rough play
– Overstimulation from petting
– Enrichment and reducing boredom

Pricing:

– First private session (90 minutes): $100
– Additional sessions (45 minutes): $75
– Package of 5 sessions: $350

Please email training@awla.org to speak to our team and make an appointment! 

What you will need for all group and private dog classes:

A semi-tired dog: A short exercise session before class can provide a less excited dog that is more willing to learn! A brisk walk or some play sessions at home will burn off some excess energy and help your focus in class.

A hungry dog: By skipping your dog’s morning meal or at least cutting it in half, you will increase the chance that they will work for food rewards and eliminate the chance of weight gain from the extra treats.

Rewards: We will primarily use food rewards, but feel free to also bring your dog’s favorite toy to use as a reward. Treats should be cut to about the size of your smallest fingernail. Small, soft, and stinky works best for learning around distractions!

A place to put your treats: pockets, training pouch, even a nail apron from Home Depot works. For most exercises, treats will not be out in the open. Remember, we are rewarding our dogs- not bribing them!

A mat to practice on: The mat can teach a dog to perform many cues in a relaxed state because it is a familiar and comfortable place. Ideas for a mat: a bath towel, a piece of carpet, crate mat, etc…

Leash: four- or six-ft for most class work, optional long leash (10-20ft) for stay and recall exercises. For safety NO chain leashes or retractable leashes.

Collar: Properly fitted, can be Martingale style, flat buckle, adjustable, etc.. NO choke chains or prong collars.

Brush: We will be working on handling and calming exercises so dogs learn to enjoy grooming and to calm down after getting excited.

Optional Training Tools: These non-aversive tools do not replace training, but can help the process:

  • Front Clip Harness: Traditional harnesses in which the leash clips on the back of a dog encourage pulling. With a front clip harness, the leash clips across the chest redirecting the dog when they pull, discouraging pulling and making walks more enjoyable!
  • Head Halter: Gives the most control and for some dogs offer a calming effect. However, most dogs need to be desensitized to head halters before taking them to the streets!

PLEASE NOTE:

No human aggressive animals.
The dog must be wearing a properly fitted collar and/or harness with four- to six-ft leash.
No prong or shock collars. No retractable leashes.

AWLA