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Puppy Training & Socialization


  • Rearing Strategies

    • Housetraining

    • Crate training

    • Chewing & mouthing (Bite Inhibition)

    • Puppy-proofing your home

    • Management strategies

  • Hands-on Lessons

    • Watch Me

    • Sit

    • Down

    • Release

    • Wait

    • Come when called (Recalls)

    • Respond to puppy's name

    • Body Handling (accustoming your puppy to grooming & handling)

    • Leave it means Never

    • Give

    • Self Control

    • Playing with your puppy as a reward

    • Learning to "read" your puppy's body language

  • Socialization 

    • Puppy play and interaction

    • Meeting people and puppies

    • Proper greeting and making friends with your puppy

    • Acclimating your puppy to loads of new and unfamiliar things

  • Question & Answer Time​

    • Your questions answered​

What is included in the Puppy classes?

  • Puppy 1 classes are held in clean places where only vaccinated dogs are allowed

  • Basic manners (obedience) training with motivation-based training

  • Puppy play (if appropriate)

  • Socialization (exposure to new and unfamiliar people, places, puppies & things)

  • We offer the most flexible training calendar in Northern California!

  • Use your class credits for Puppy 1, Family Dog 1, Family Dog 2 AND Family Dog 3

  • Aptos, Capitola (in winter), & Santa Cruz

  • Learn all of the foundations with our professional, certified, experienced trainers 

  • Train your puppy around new environments, places, objects, dogs and people, a critical part of learning & maintaining social skills for dogs of all ages. 

  • Living with Dogs trainers focus on using reinforcement and motivation for good behavior; and management, interruption and time outs for undesirable behavior.

  • Teach your puppy what TO DO and spend less time correcting them for bad behavior.

Family Dog 1 Requirements

  • For Puppies and Dogs, 4 months and older (This class is appropriate for beginners of all ages.)

  • This class is designed to provide appropriate challenges for beginners up to intermediate level dogs & puppies over 4 months

  • Dogs must be friendly with new dogs & people

  • Current on all vet recommended vaccines (Bordatella suggested, not required)

  • Family Dog 1 Classes are BLUE on the Class Calendar

  • Enroll Here

You and your pup can start puppy classes right away and get off on the right paw! You may attend up to 10 classes with the Flex 120 Plan or 28 classes with our 365 Plan. Our classes are flexible and you can book classes, as long as you make changes at least 12 hours before class.


ALL In Person Puppy Classes Have Resumed

Puppy Class Requirements

  • From 9 weeks up to 4 months (16 weeks) of age

  • Documented proof of at least one DHPP (Distemper Parvovirus) Vaccine.

  • Proof of a negative giardia test (lab test result) from your veterinarian.

  • Start at least 5 days after the First Distemper/Parvo combination vaccine

  • Rabies vaccine is NOT required for puppies under 4 months.

  • Puppy 1 Classes are PINK on the Class Calendar

  • Use your class credits for Puppy 1, Family Dog 1 & Family Dog 2.

  • Enroll Here

In training classes your puppy will learn how to relax and get along with other dogs and people. Living with Dogs only does training classes, specializing in helping you preparing your puppy to be a dog you can take anywhere!

Puppy socialization and training classes are important for your puppies formative months! The impressions puppies get in their first four months of life, create their world view, set expectations and affect their development, temperament and attitudes. 


You and your pup can start puppy socialization and training classes right away and get off on the right paw!  

We'll be there to help guide and teach you to train your puppy become an awesome companion dog! We've been offering puppy classes since 1999, we've helped thousands of puppies learn. We are the most experienced puppy trainers in Santa Cruz County. 


Early safe exposure and training can help to prevent serious behavioral issues later on. Puppies can learn unwanted behavior just as quickly as they can learn good behavior. (Read the list of things your puppy will learn below!)

Puppies deserve more care and protection! >>> Full vaccination is NOT required to start puppy training classes. Our puppy classes are held in small, safe, environments where only vaccinated dogs are allowed. We  carefully choose our classrooms. We do not hold classes in environments like boarding kennels, shelters and veterinary offices because high populations of dogs spending lots of time in small environments is associated with increased risk of health-related issues. 

We offer two plans with access to any of our puppy classes and you can start as soon as your puppy has one vaccine plus 5 days to build a strong immune response. We also have some online lessons that you can start right away!

Research has shown that the most impressionable period for a puppy's mental development occurs before 16 weeks of age. This period of time is known as the primary socialization window (up to 8 weeks) and the secondary socialization window (8 - 16 weeks). 


Modern veterinarians, behavior specialists, and professional trainers now instruct owners to seek early socialization puppy classes in clean facilities before puppies are fully vaccinated. Because of the short time that the critical socialization window is open, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior "Believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive socialization before they are fully vaccinated."

Check our Class Calendar for days, times and locations. Puppy classes are in pink, Family Dog 1 classes in blue, Family Dog 2 in purple and Family Dog 3 are in brown.





Your puppy's safety and future are our foremost concerns.  The risk of disease in a well-managed clean environment is relatively very low compared with the risk of behavior issues from lack of socialization and training.


Our puppy classes are held outdoors, in an enclosed area. Sick animals or unvaccinated dogs are not able or allowed to come into this space. Exposure to the environment at this is age a calculated risk, however, we do our best to make sure the risk is low. The lack of access to the space insures minimal to no contamination compared to public spaces.


Puppy class provides a safe environment for you to bring your puppy to gain important social exposure. We do the same for our human children in taking them to nursery school and kindergarten for social development before they have had all of their vaccines. No environment, not even a veterinary clinic is 100% risk-free, but by requiring one vaccine of all puppies who come to puppy classes, the risk is minimized.  Puppy classes across the nation have an excellent track record for safety.


"A paper in the March/April 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association describes a study that concluded, puppies vaccinated at least once prior to starting puppy classes at less than 16 weeks of age were at no more risk of being diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus infection than vaccinated puppies that did not attend classes.*1" Dr. Ian Dunbar, DVM (Dr Dunbar is a veterinarian, researcher, author, behaviorist and pioneer of puppy training classes)


Want more information? Read Jennifer Messner, DVM's article "Striving for Puppy Wellness".




It is very hard for us to imagine our sweet, innocent little puppies growing up and becoming destructive or having behavior issues, but it does happen. In adolescence, dogs become more energetic and need more patience, continued and consistent training, mental stimulation, and energy outlets.


Lack of socialization and training are two of the largest risk factors for dogs being turned into shelters in adolescence. We want to keep that number as low as possible by providing quality education and training for humans as well as puppies and dogs.


Studies show that social exposure to new people, situations, things and new dogs and training at a young age is very important to a puppy's behavioral health, resilience and ability to get along in the world as an adolescent or a mature companion dog.


Scientific and Professional References


The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Puppy Socialization Position Statement

"For this reason [short socialization window], the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive socialization before they are fully vaccinated."


Pet Professionals Guild Puppy Position Statement

Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Training and Behavior Resources. A Letter on Puppy Socialization from Dr. R.K. Anderson, DVM, Diplomat, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and Diplomat of American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. 
This is a letter to veterinary professionals from a well-respected specialist in communicable diseases in dogs and a veterinary behavior specialist.


Class Video (below): Sit politely for your bowl of food is a simple, easy self-control exercise between play sessions.



When you sign up for our flexible packages, your puppy can transition seamlessly from Puppy School into Family Dog 1 classes at four months of age. Your puppy is eligible for Family Dog 1 class when he or she is over four months and has all of their Puppy Combination and Rabies vaccines. Most puppies and dogs in the Family Dog 1 class are young dogs between 4 months and 2 years. 



Socialization means exposure to new unfamiliar people, places, animals, training and things. Social exposure is important to your puppy to help them develop neural capacity in their brains and so they are easy to get along with, resilient and don't have behavioral issues later on. Many dogs develop aggression or other difficult issues in adolescence between 6 months and 2 years due to lack of continued training and exposure. It is important to continue to expose your dog daily to good experiences: friendly people of all ages, dogs of all sorts, training activities and many new things in the first couple of years of their lives to set their expectations and for them to be great companions throughout their lives. Consistently attending organized training classes (unlike puppy or dog park frat parties) is a great way to provide lots of safe exposure!



Yes, each of our positive, reinforcement-based trainers has had hundreds of hours of training, internship, continuing education or have  passed certification examinations for professional dog trainers with outstanding professional organizations like the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), The Pet Professionals Guild and the Animal Behavior College. We uphold professional ethical standards and the Humane Hierarchy standard of care 



Puppy classes are held outdoors at our Aptos Training Center. It is a safe and enclosed space that people do not have access to outside of classes. Check our Class Calendar for details. Puppy classes are coded in PINK.


Questions? Read our website, Frequently Asked Questions or contact us by using our contact form. We do not staff a phone full time and will be able to respond more quickly by email. 


*1-Stepita ME, Bain MJ, Kass, PH. Frequency of CPV InfectiOn in Vaccinated Puppies that Attended Puppy Socialization Classes. J.A.A.H.A. 2013; March/April; 95-99.

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