Frequently Asked Questions

What training methods does HSSC follow?

We are offer humane, evidence-based and fun positive reinforcement dog training classes. We strive to offer force free classes with the least intrusive methods of modern dog training for both humans and canines. We do not support aversive, dominance or “balanced” training philosophies. HSSC trainers believe that reward-based dog training is the best way to build a trusting relationship between humans and their canines. For more information on why we believe science-based training is the most effective and ethical method, read the Dominance Position Statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

What is the age range for a puppy class?

All puppy classes are designed for puppies between 10–19 weeks. Puppies older than 20 weeks should join It’s Elementary Level 1.

What vaccinations are required for a puppy class?
  • Proof of at least one distemper/parvo combination vaccine at least seven days prior to start of class.
  • Proof of current rabies vaccination if puppy is over four months.
  • Proof of current Bordetella vaccination.
  • Please take a photo of vaccinations and email to dogtraining@humanesocietysoco.org
  • Photo proof of vaccinations must be emailed two days prior to the start of in-person classes or your dog will not be able to attend class.
What is the age range for adult dogs?

Dogs are eligible for an adult class once they have reached 4 months.

What vaccinations are required for an adult dog class?
  • Proof of current rabies vaccination.
  • Proof of their last distemper/parvo combination booster. (First booster given one year after completion of puppy vaccinations, following boosters given every three years.)
  • Proof of current bordetella vaccination.
  • Please take a photo of vaccinations and email to dogtraining@humanesocietysoco.org
  • Photo proof of vaccinations must be emailed two days prior to the start of in-person classes or your dog will not be able to attend class.
Do adult dogs need to be spayed or neutered before taking a class?

HSSC highly encourages all dogs over the age of 12 months to be spayed/neutered prior to registering for a training class. For more information on our low-cost, spay/neuter clinic please visit humanesocitysoco.org/spay-neuter-clinic

My dog is in heat. Can she still attend class?

Unfortunately, dogs in heat are not able to attend class due to the distraction created for the other canines in class. Please contact dogtraining@humanesocietysoco.org for more information.

Are there any dogs that shouldn’t attend a group class?

Your dogs must be free of any signs of communicable diseases in order to attend a class. This includes coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or display any other potential symptoms of illness within 24 hours of class. If you have to miss class because your dog has a communicable disease, please let us know. In order to return to class, we may ask for a note from your veterinarian stating that your dog is no longer contagious.

Dogs that have a history of aggression (snarling, snapping, biting) towards people or other dogs are not appropriate for our in-person group training classes. In addition, dogs that are reactive towards people (growl, barks, lunges) should not attend in-person group training classes. If your dog is reactive on-leash towards other dogs, please start their training with our Reactive Rover class (in person or virtual) or one-on-one training sessions. Your trainer can recommend next steps for training when you complete the class. If your dog is inappropriate for in-person group classes, we can still help. We offer virtual services, one-on-one training consultations, and can provide help over the phone. Please send us a message dogtraining@sonomahumanesoco.org

Can I bring my family to class or to my private session?

Yes!

I have two dogs. Can I bring both of them to class?

Each dog needs to register separately and have different handlers. Our online Home School for Dogs is per household, but we recommend a separate handler for each dog.

Where are training classes held?

Both our Santa Rosa and Healdsburg campuses have several inside and outside training locations. You will receive the specific training location when you register.

I was told I would receive an email. Why have I not received it?

If you are expecting an email and haven’t received one, it is possible the message was sent but went into your inbox junk/spam or promotional folder. Emails from your instructor, the Canine and Behavior Training Department or other staff will have an @humanesocietysoco.org address. If you cannot find an email that you are looking for, please email your instructor directly or contact us dogtraining@humanesocietysoco.org.

Will I be notified if my class is canceled?

Occasionally, classes may be canceled due to wildfires, weather conditions, low enrollment numbers or for a Stay in Place order. We will notify you through email and give you as much notice as possible. If the decision to cancel is made two hours or less from the start of your class, we will text you.

If a class is canceled due to wildfire, weather or a SIP, HSSC will do our best to offer a make-up session at no additional cost.

Will I receive a phone call to confirm my class enrollment?

No. We ask that all clients register and pay for their classes online. Prepayment is required to register for a class. For virtual classes you will receive a link to your Microsoft Teams class. Please contact us 24 hours prior to class start date if you have not received a link.

I’ve been added to a waitlist. What happens next?

If there is a last minute opening (less than 48 hours), we will contact you via phone/text as well as email. Our classes can fill up to a month in advance, so we recommend registering for another session with space and then adding yourself to the waitlist for your preferred session. We can easily transfer your registration fee should a spot in your preferred session open up.

I need to miss a class. Can I make it up?

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer make-up classes. If you need to miss a class please inform the instructor ASAP.

I need to cancel my registration. How do I get a refund?

If you have registered for a class and need to cancel, you must notify the Humane Society of Sonoma County no less than ten (10) days prior to the first day of class for a full refund. If notification is received less than ten (10) days prior to class, we regret that we will not be able to offer a refund or credit. No refunds or credits will be given once the class has started or for missed classes in a series. It is not possible for us to offer make-up classes. Contact: dogtraining@humanesocietysoco.org to cancel a registration.

NOTE: The On-demand Pawsitively Puppies Orientation and the four-week Kinderpuppy Training Level 1 class included in your HSSC Pawsitively Puppies Adoption Package is a non-refundable part of your adoption package fees.  If you choose to enroll your puppy in another class, you may request that a credit be issued to be used within 90 days of the adoption for another training class.

Is it possible to get a credit?

If you are eligible to receive a refund, then you may request a credit instead. Credits must be used within 90 days and are subject to the same terms and conditions as a refund.

Do you train service dogs?

HSSC does not offer service dog training. Service Dogs are trained to be a companion to one person who often has a specific disability. You can find more information through Canine Companions for Independence or Assistance Dogs International.

Still can’t find an answer to your question?

Contact us! Please send us an email dogtraining@humanesocietysoco.org.