Good Dog! Obedience and Rally Clubs
and Resources in the New England Area
Classes at a good obedience club can be the best investment you make for your dog, especially if you're a first-time dog owner or are having trouble getting your dog to mind. The most important thing the instructor will teach you is how to train your dog. You and your dog will learn how to work together, which strengthens the bond between you.
If you're looking for an obedience club in your area, here are some methods you can use to find one:
- Use Google, but be prepared for the avalanche of results you'll get.
- Check the Yellow Pages under the heading "Pet Training".
- Ask at your vet's and at the local pet supply stores.
- Keep an eye out for announcements in your newspaper.
- Ask at your town hall or the public library.
Of course, just because a dog trainer can afford to buy an ad someplace doesn't make that person a good dog trainer. Always try before you buy: Ask to sit in on a class or another training session before you sign yourself and your dog up. If the trainer appears to be rough with the dogs or with their owners, back slowly out the door, turn, run, and don't go back with your dog.
The APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) has a good set of guidelines posted on their Web site discussing how to choose a good dog trainer. Look for APDT or NADOI (National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors) certification with the trainer you choose. They're not absolute guarantees, but the certifications do show that the instructor cares enough to stay abreast of developments in the training field, and to abide by the organization's code of ethics. Another registry for trainers is CPDT, the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers.
Here is a brief list of obedience clubs and classes in the northern Massachusetts/southern New Hampshire/southern Maine area. Some of these clubs' Web sites link to those of other clubs in the region. If you know of other good ones in this locale, please tell me about them.
NEARR (Northeast All Retriever Rescue) has compiled an even more extensive list of training facilities, doggy daycare and boarding facilities, and other useful information. Scroll about halfway down the page to reach the list of training facilities.
- Piscataqua Obedience Club, ME: (207) 363-2574. They offer classes at the Kittery Rec Center on Cole Road in Kittery, ME. Their training methods are positive and encouraging, both for dogs and for owners. Duncan, Doogie, Charlie, Seamus, and Dinah are all proud POC graduates. Dinah currently takes Rally and Novice Obedience classes through POC.
- Poetic Gold Farm — offers CGC and S.T.A.R Puppy classes and other basic manners classes in Falmouth, ME.
- Wag-It Training Center, Lincolnville, ME: (207) 789-5126.This is one of our favorite places to trial, and I'm only sorry that we live too far away to train there. Sumac Grant-Johnson and her staff of instructors offer everything from puppy classes and manners to competitive agility, obedience, and rally classes.
- DogSense, Gorham, ME: (207) 929-4482. Carolyn Ross offers Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and manners classes as well as many other classes.
- Reigning Cats and Dogs, Wells, ME: (207) 646-7788. This is the sister store to the one in downtown Kennebunk. They offer basic obedience classes and hold the CGC test at the end of the course. Sue, their instructor, also teaches for the Piscataqua Obedience Club (see below), where she was Doogie's instructor in Basic and Novice Obedience. Seamus and I had two classes of Advanced Basic with Sue before moving on to Novice. It was great working with her again! Dinah loved Auntie Sue's Puppy Kindergarten class there, too!
- Finish Forward Dogs Training Studio, Saco, ME: (207) 251-2296. We couldn't be more tickled about having a training facility open reasonably close to us! Shannan Hall-Nutting and her faculty of trainers will offer both competition obedience and all levels of obedience training, plus CGC classes and remedial manners.
- Paw-zn-Around, Saco, ME: (207) 283-6642. Paw-zn-Around offers multiple levels of obedience training for puppies and adults, including an "obedience tune-up" and Canine Good Citizen classes with Sue Walsh.
- It's a Dog's World, York, ME: (207) 363-0099. It's a Dog's World offers many levels of obedience, canine good manners training, and other classes, including agility. Duncan and Charlie went to a number of classes here and loved them!
- Saccarappa Obedience Club, ME: (207) 854-3647. SOC holds puppy kindergarten, beginner, and pre-novice obedience at the Westbrook Armory in Westbrook. They also offer beginning rally and breed handling classes and feature "Super Sunday" obedience run-throughs and other special events.
- Marshland Obedience Club, ME. Marshland is a UKC obedience club based in southern Maine and Seacoast NH. They put on UKC trials and show-and-gos. At the show-and-gos, they offer UKC, AKC, and CKC obedience routines.
- C&D Obedience, Augusta, ME: (207) 377-2436. Cindy Dunham and Donna Cassista offer private and group obedience training, rally, and agility in both Augusta and Manchester, ME.
- Tri-County Obedience Club, ME. Tri-County serves Kennebec, Somerset, and Franklin Counties in central and western Maine. They offer training in regular and rally obedience, CGC testing, and occasionally TDI (therapy dog) evaluations.
- Casco Bay Dog Training Club, ME: (207) 615-WOOF. CBDTC holds classes in Bath at the Donald Small/Bath Recreation Department. They offer puppy-K, basic, and competitive obedience and CGC.
- Pet Positive, Cape Elizabeth, ME: (207) 767-5815. Sherry Britton offers obedience classes at 541 Ocean House Road in Cape Elizabeth.
- Renaissance Dogs, Holden, ME: (207) 989-9977. Renaissance offers obedience, rally, and agility (and lots of other classes, too) just outside of Bangor.
- All 4 Paws, Winslow, ME: (207) 462-9495. Rita Pirrotta and her staff offer training classes in Central Maine and surrounding communities. You can email her here.
- North Star Dog Training, Somerville, ME: (207) 549-4613. Carolyn Fuhrer offers agility, obedience, and tracking classes.
- Casco Bay Dog Training Club, ME: (207) 615-WOOF. CBDTC holds a very popular local AKC obedience and rally trial in April. They currently have an Intro to Rally Obedience class as well as a number of obedience classes. You can contact the club by email, too.
- Telling Tails Training Center, Fryeburg, ME: (207) 642-3693. Telling Tails offers AKC Novice/Open/Utility level competition classes with Marie Gagnon. You can sign up for sessions or just drop in. They also offer Therapy Dog (TDI) classes, Pet Dog manners classes, and CGC and S.T.A.R Puppy classes.
- All Dogs Gym, Manchester, NH. They have everything from doggie day care to agility training -- and Gail has a Beardie! You have to see this place to believe it -- a major-league, state-of-the-art facility with classrooms, a padded floor in the arena, and everything else you can imagine. Contact Gail and her staff by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Bo-Gee Agility, Raymond, NH: Yes, they do agility too, but Bo-Gee also offers classes in regular and rally obedience. They hold classes behind the Ben Franklin store in Raymond (Exit 5 off Route 101). Contact John and Laura Raymond at email@example.com.
- Dee Ganley teaches classes in Concord and East Andover, NH. Classes and workshops include Scentwork, Agility for Fun, and CGC Prep in addition to skills and behavior modification classes.
- All Breeds Canine Training Center, Pelham, NH: (603) 635-9199. Thanks to Liz Gould for the suggestion. All Breeds offers basic and advanced obedience, agility for fun, a CGC class, and private consultations.
- Carroll County Kennel Club, North Conway and Shelburne, NH and Fryeburg, ME: CCKC offers obedience and CGC classes, rally classes, and conformation handling classes at three locations in NH and ME.
- Back to Basics Obedience, Newport, ME: (207) 368-2442. Betsy Newman teaches agility, obedience, and rally in Pittsfield, Machias, Jonesport, and Hodgdon, ME.
- Old Colony Obedience Club, Ipswich, MA. OCOC offers all levels of obedience training from puppy-K through competition, plus rally. Email Beth Perron for information about classes, or call 978-356-4131.
- Charles River Dog Training Club, Weston, MA. This club's Web site contains a wealth of resources for the AKC, ASCA, and UKC obedience and tracking enthusiast, a list of training classes, plus a useful guide to events in New England. Email for general information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Anne Springer, Ipswich, MA. (978) 356-3286. Anne is a member of APDT and a CGC evaluator. She offers beginning and advanced manners classes, specialty classes, and private consultations. Email Anne at email@example.com
- Fit 'n' Trim Dog Sport Training, 108 Newburyport Turnpike (Route 1), Rowley, MA. New indoor location at the Adams Mall (former location of Canine Consulting), located close to their outdoor facility. Karen Gorman was Charlie's first agility teacher, and we loved working with her. Highly recommended!
- Concord Dog Training Club, Concord. (978) 371-1133. Not exactly in northern Mass., but VERY good. They offer basic classes, show handling, and competitive obedience training. Worth the trip!
- Command Pawformance, Billerica, MA. (978) 262-9957. Private and group classes for puppies and adult dogs.
- Waggin' Tails Dog Training, 67 Broadway, Westford, MA. (978) 392-0945. Sandy Madden offers regular and rally obedience and puppy clases as well as agility, and her facility is available for rental for dog club meetings and events.
The Northeast K9 Events site contains a useful list of events, including obedience trials and seminars, in the New England area.
If you go just a bit farther afield, you can compete in obedience trials in Canada.