Here at Top Notch Dog Training we appreciate and respect the human-animal bond. We strive to create a positive learning experience for individuals at both ends of the leash. Our goal is to provide the dog’s real trainer, YOU, the tools to build communication and trust between you and your dog.

Using aversive-free, positive training methods through operant conditioning we ‘mark’ and ‘reward’ behaviors the trainer wants to see more of in exchange for something the dog wants. This makes it more likely that the desired behavior will be repeated. Learning is greatly accelerated because your dog is fully involved with the learning process.

Punishment creates anxiety and avoidance, when the dog is more focused on avoiding the punishment than obtaining the reward. Therefore, punishment does not build mutual trust and respect or build a strong relationship.

Our training coaches combine a love of dogs with scientific knowledge, extensive training, certification, and years of experience.

Dominance Theory - Teaching or Intimidation?
Read the Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory
by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior

The importance of early puppy socialization and why it should be a first priority.
Puppy Vaccination and Early Socialization Should Go Together - Read an open letter from Dr. R.K. Anderson, DVM, Diplomat of American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and Diplomat of American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.


Trainer credentials and affiliations:

Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partners (KPA-CTP)

Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)

Professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Evaluator

Mentor Trainer for Animal Behavior College (ABC)


Teach your dog to become a well mannered member of the family! Top Notch Dog Training offers a wide range of fun and effective training services listed below.

Great Beginnings Puppy Class

The most critical time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life! This is the primary window of opportunity for puppies to adapt to new people, other puppies, sounds, objects, situations and experiences. During this period of development it is important to expose puppies safely and positively, without causing fear or stress. At this critical early age of development, such socialization will need to take place before they are fully vaccinated. We provide puppies and parents with the safest possible sanitized and controlled environment to get the exposure they need in order to develop into happy, well adjusted adult dogs.

Incomplete or improper socialization during this important time can increase the risk of behavioral problems later in life including fear and aggression. Behavioral problems are the number one cause of relinquishment to shelters. The statistics show that behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under the age of three years.

Puppies can start socialization classes as early as 8 weeks of age. Puppies should have received at least  one set of vaccines prior to the first class and a first deworming. We personally verify all puppies are on a vaccination plan with a veterinarian.

The importance of early puppy socialization and why it should be a first priority.
Puppy Vaccination and Early Socialization Should Go Together - Read an open letter from Dr. R.K. Anderson, DVM, Diplomat of American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and Diplomat of American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Great Beginnings Puppy Class:
Socialize your puppy with new people, other puppies, and a host of different objects, sounds and situations. Learn how to positively introduce basic cues such as sit, down, come, etc. and how to address common puppy behaviors such as mouthing, housetraining, chewing, etc.

Earn your puppy the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Medal

See our Calendar of Classes and Requirements.

Good Manners Group Classes

We offer several levels of obedience classes, covering a wide range of behaviors that make for a well behaved dog at home, and out in public. Open to dogs 4 months of age and up that are dog and people friendly.

If you are concerned about your dog behaving aggressively around people or other dogs, please call our office for more information.  If group classes are not immediately appropriate for your dog, we will inform you of our options available for specific training and behavior modification.

Good Manners Level 1 - Clever Dog:
Using clickers to teach Sit, down, Come, Leash Walking, Wait, and no Jumping all using a 6 foot leash. Open to dog and people friendly dogs, 4 months of age and up.

Good Manners Level 2 - Bright Dog:
Using clickers to teach Leash Walking with auto Sit, Sit/Stay, Down/Stay, beginning On Your Mat, advanced Wait, distraction practice and more. All on a 6 foot leash or long line. Open to Level 1 Clever Dog graduates.

Good Manners Level 3 - Exceptional Dog:
Using clickers to teach advanced Come, Distance On Your Mat, advanced Leash Walking, Hand Signals for Sit and Down, long distance Down Stay, Polite People Greetings and more. Open to Level 2 Bright Dog graduates with trainer okay. All on a 6 foot leash or long line.

Good Manners Level 4 - Brilliant Dog:
This is the advanced class for training all behaviors off leash.

See our Calendar of Classes and Requirements.

Agility Lite Classes

These courses are loosely based on traditional agility, and since they are in no way designed for the handler that wants to compete in agility, we've gone completely creative and focused on FUN! We combine traditional agility obstacles with some of our very own ideas, with the result being a fun and relaxed set up, aimed at creating a thrilling learning environment that strengthens the communication and bond between you and your dog. Great for dogs that appreciate mental stimulation and/or need more physical activity. Handlers get to improve their teaching skills, and revel in their dog's achievements and success!

Agility Lite Level 1 - Nimble Dog
Obstacles covered include ramps, stairs, bar jump, weave poles, straight tunnel, tire jump. Requirement: Must be a Level 1 Clever Dog Good Manners class graduate. Dog-friendly dogs only – dogs that present a risk to other dogs will be excused from class with no refund.

Agility Lite Level 2 - Lively Dog
More challenging obstacles include back chute, curved tunnels, broad jump, teeter board and crawl chute. Requirements: Must be a Agility Lite Level 1 Nimble Dog graduate. Dog-friendly dogs only.

Agility Lite Level 3 - Dynamic Dog

This class provides some superb challenges! Dogs are taught new exercises and obstacles - Crawl and Back Up in a straight line, for example. We also focus on more challenging courses to run - obstacle discrimination, and longer chains of obstacles! A great time is guaranteed to be had by all! And of course, we will get you and your dog on video for all of your family and friends to enjoy - come join us!Requirements: Must be a Level 2 Lively Dog graduate. Dog-friendly dogs only.

See our Calendar of Classes and Requirements.

Tricks - Circus Dog

Come and have fun with us and teach your dog tricks with two class levels, Talented Dog and Incredible Dog - your dog will be able to Shut the Door, High Five, Roll Over, Crawl, Bow, Twist/Spin and much more! This class is open to Good Manners Level 2 Bright Dog graduates.

See our Calendar of Classes and Requirements.

Specialty Classes

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) course and testing: open to Bright Dog graduates. 5 weeks of training exercises and then the 6th week we will conduc the CGC test. Click on the link for a complete description of the program.

See our Calendar of Classes and Requirements.

Private Lessons

In addition to group classes, we recognize that sometimes, for various reasons, classes are not always the best approach for everyone. Busy schedules or dog behavioral issues shouldn’t stand in the way of having a happy and well-adjusted dog be a member of your family.

We are happy to offer private training lessons at your home tailored to fit your needs. We use the same positive approach that is taught in our group classes but you will have the benefit of one-on-one instruction.

For more information please give us a call at (209)523-3138 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Behavioral Consultations

Behavioral consultations will address why undesired behavior is happening and how to modify it appropriately. A 60-minute private session with a certified behavior counselor will provide you with the knowledge and positive techniques needed to overcome behavioral challenges.

If you notice that your dog begins to have a behavioral issue, please call us as soon as possible to schedule a consultation. You may also choose to schedule a consultation anytime to learn how to prevent behavioral issues from occuring. Identifying the cause of issues early on can make the difference between a happy, enjoyable relationship with your dog and a stressful, constant battle with your canine companion.

Below are only some of the behavioral issues we address:

Basic obedience, shy or fearful behaviors, fear-aggression, dog-dog issues, remedial socialization, issues between dogs and children, aggression toward people, aggression toward dogs or other animals, house training, excessive barking, digging, destructive behaviors, jumping, nipping, separation distress or anxiety, obsessive behaviors, coming when called...

In-House Training


Jump Start Training

We offer in-house training during your dog's boarding stay with us! Your dog can learn new behaviors, tricks or fine tune the ones already known. Our in-house training program is available from a 3-day boarding stay to an 8-week Board and Train program, depending on the extent of the training desired.

This program is run by our Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT's) and Karen Pryor Certified Training Partners (KPA-CTP's).

At the time of your dog's departure we will conduct an 'exit lesson' with you to review your dog's progress and training techniques for continued at-home management. All behaviors are acquired through effective positive training methods.

Let your dog stay, play and learn here at Top Notch Kennels!


Board and Train 

This program is a great option for the busy family without time to train for a well mannered dog.

With this service, your dog stays with us at our facility.  Our certified trainers work with your dog using positive reinforcement based techniques while learning practical behaviors to be a well adjusted member of the family. Your dog will be trained around people, other dogs and in various environments.

The family will have scheduled training sessions to give you an opportunity to learn more about the training and canine behavior.  We teach you the same methods we use in training your dog. Working with you ensures that the new, desired behavior, will transfer to your environment.

Your dog will be introduced to basic manners, some of which include sit, down, stay, come when called, walking politely on leash, on your mat and wait.

If you would like to find out more information regarding the Board and Train program or any of our training options please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or give us a call at (209)523-3138.

© Top Notch Kennels, Inc. 2011