C.L.A.S.S. is a three-level evaluation for dog owners to demonstrate the real-life skills of their dogs, as well as a knowledge assessment of the owners’ understanding of basic dog handling and care.
Developed by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) based on input from both dog owners and non-dog owners, shelter workers, and professional dog trainers, C.L.A.S.S. benefits pet owners, dogs, and everyone in the community!
The three levels of the program are named after human university degree programs: the B.A. for Dogs™ (Bachelor’s level), the M.A. for Dogs™ (Master’s level), and the Ph.D. for Dogs™ (Doctorate level). The skills in each level vary in the level of difficulty and distractions. For example, at the B.A. level, we allow the use of treats as rewards after the completion of an exercise, and some of the “real life” skills that are assessed are waiting at the door, drop it, and settle. In the M.A. level, dogs are asked to walk past several dogs of different sizes, breeds and genders, to wait in the car before exiting, and to allow the student to handle various parts of their body. And in the Ph.D. level, students must carry everyday objects such as a cardboard box or paper sack while walking their dogs on a loose leash, ask their dogs to back up, and have their dog demonstrate table manners during a simulated dinner session. Each level also allows for two “bonus rounds” that students may elect to try or not with their dog.
The exact skills that are assessed at each level are:
- Wait at the door (dog waits at the door until released to enter)
- “Come” from 10 feet away and politely allow leashing up
- Walk on a loose leash and pay attention to handler
- Meet and greet a stranger (in this level, handler can decide whether to allow stranger to pet and give a treat to the dog)
- Leave it (dog must ignore 3 different items as he walks past)
- Wait for food bowl (must sit and wait until released to go to bowl)
- Stay in a sit OR down for 1 minute
- Settle (Dog must settle in a Down for 1 minute while handler sits next to dog)
- Give and take (dog must allow a high-value item like chewie to be taken away and must take a treat, toy, or chew in exchange)
- BONUS 1 – Dog performs Rollover, Spin, Speak, Fetch, or Give Paw
- BONUS 2 – Dog performs a trick other than the one performed in Bonus 1.
For information on scoring guidelines at the BA level, click here.
- Wait in car (dog must wait in the car for 5 seconds while student stands 5 feet away, until handler tells dog to exit)
- Pass by other dogs (dog walks on loose leash past 3 other dogs)
- Wait at the door (dog must wait at the door to enter while a person walks by until released to enter)
- “Come” (after dog is distracted by treat) from 15 feet and sits or downs while handler attaches leash
- Sit, Down, and Stand on cue
- Handling (handler handles each of their dog’s paws, strokes their dog on one side from shoulder to tail, and examines either each of their dog’s ears, or their dog’s teeth from each side of mouth
- Loose leash walking and Leave It (handler walks with their dog on a loose leash past 2 food bowls and ignores them on cue)
- Stay with distractions (handlers asks dog to Stay in sit OR down for 1 minute and until released, during distractions, while handler stands 5 feet away)
- BONUS 1 – Targeting (dog touches each of the handler’s hands with his nose, on cue)
- BONUS 2 – Trick of handler’s choice
For information on scoring guidelines at the MA level, click here.
- Loose leash walking while carrying object (handler holds unsteady object in their hand while walking their dog on a loose lead for 15 feet, and enters through a door)
- Back Up (handler holds an unsteady object in their hand while walking with their dog to maneuver around household items. Also, handler asks their dog to back up 3 feet.
- Stay (handler asks dog to stay until released, in a Sit OR Down, while student places an unsteady object on a chair.
- “Come” with distractions (handler calls dog to come from 20 feet away and pass by distractions placed between the dog and handler)
- Meet and Greet (handler asks their dog to sit or down, and an unfamiliar person approaches student and dog. Person greets dog and gently pets dog’s head, ears, and back)
- Attention (handler asks their dog for 15 seconds of eye contact after an unfamiliar person knocks on the door and enters the testing area)
- Table Manners (handler asks their dog to settle in a Down until released while student and an unfamiliar person sit at a table for a snack for 1 minute)
- Do you really know sit? (Handler asks the dog to Sit 3 different times, varying the handler’s body position each time
- BONUS 1 – Handler asks their dog to Sit using 2 additional Sit test variations
- BONUS 2 – Targeting with an unfamiliar person (dog uses his nose to touch each of an unfamiliar person’s hands on cue
For information on scoring guidelines at the PhD level, click here.
(Information and text taken from the C.L.A.S.S. website.)