Dog behavior and handling workshops

For workshop dates and registration information, click here.

These workshops fill up rapidly and attendance is first come/first served. Minimum age for attending is 18.

At Best Friends, we use what we call "relationship-based" training. We work to build a relationship based on trust, kindness, and consistency. The simplistic explanation is we reward what we like and ignore what we don't.

Dog training workshops from Best Friends

We use clickers as markers and positive reinforcement - treats, toys, and attention as rewards (primarily treats). We also use negative punishment - taking away something the dog likes. For example, when a dog jumps up on you and you turn your back until four paws are on the floor. You take away your attention to decrease jumping up.

We also use counterconditioning (changing the way a dog feels about or reacts to a thing by pairing the thing that bothers the dog with "good things" like treats). We usually use counterconditioning with desensitization (gradually exposing the dog to the thing that bothers him, starting way below the threshold at which he will react badly).

During the workshops, we will cover classical and operant conditioning theory and clicker training skills. We also demonstrate different techniques to get behavior such as Luring, Capturing, and Shaping.

Foundation skills for working with dogs

Learn what makes Best Friends Animal Sanctuary a leader in helping homeless dogs get ready for their forever homes! This first of three workshops takes you through the important skills needed to successfully train and rehabilitate dogs the Best Friends’ way, as well as giving you the chance to network with other dog people from around the country. You’ll learn about the importance of understanding dog body language, basic learning theory, how to use a variety of dog training tools and much more!

Though each session’s schedule is different, these are some of the topics that are usually covered:

  • Ethology - the zoological study of animal behavior
  • Learning theory
  • Understanding & reading dog body language
  • Dog training management tools
  • Dog training and ways to get behavior
  • Working with common behavior issues
  • Enrichment ideas for dogs

Using your foundation to develop dog handling skills

In this second of three workshops we’ll concentrate on teaching you how to apply the foundation skills to working with specific age groups and behaviors in dogs. Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in an actual behavior assessment, as well as help introduce new dogs to each other. Prerequisite: Foundation Skills for Working with Dogs.

Though each session’s schedule is different, these are some of the topics that are usually covered:

  • Working with shy dogs
  • Introducing dogs to each other (demonstration and hands on learning)
  • Working with puppies
  • Best Friends behavior assessments (demonstration and hands on learning)
  • Working with common behavior issues (basic dog training)
  • Behavior assessments in a shelter setting
  • Behavior talk by a Best Friends’ veterinarian

Fine-tuning your dog handling skills with common behavior challenges

More hands on training of dogs, as this is a smaller group of people working with two Best Friends dog trainers. Participants will select project dogs needing help with specific behaviors and will be coached daily by a Best Friends trainer on how to work with their project dogs. Prerequisite: Using Your Foundation to Develop Dog Handling Skills.

Though each session’s schedule is different, these are some of the topics that are usually covered:

  • Using dog training management tools (hands on)
  • Barrier aggression exercise (hands on)
  • Participants (in groups of 2-4) will choose a project dog to work with (hands on with daily coaching from Best Friends dog trainers)
  • Group outings with Sanctuary dogs

Register for dog handling and behavior training classes

For more information, including class dates and registration forms, contact us at or call 435-644-2001 ext. 4317. We look forward to seeing you here.