Pets: School Me!

Specialized classes appeal to dogs’ instincts and keep them safe

Illustration by Mark Matcho


Sheepherding instructor Janna Duncan (661-266-8418) puts border collies, Welsh corgis, and other purebreds and mutts through some exhilarating exercise, as they nip and nudge the real thing. Sessions ($45 an hour) are held at her Drummond Ranch on Angeles Crest Highway or in a pasture in Malibu.


Any dog can learn the fast-moving sport of agility, which presents obstacles such as seesaws, tunnels, and hurdles. Jump City Agility (818-920-0622) offers lessons for handlers at every level. Classes are held at the Balboa Park Sports Center in Encino. A five-week beginner’s course (one hour per week) costs $110.


Afraid of the water? The therapists at K9s Only (18603 Topham St., Tarzana, 818-344-WOOF) will help your dog get a toe in. During a half-hour lesson ($40 for the initial visit, $25 thereafter with a Swim Pass), even the most timid animal is gently coaxed into the facility’s saltwater pool, via sloped steps. Count on the teacher getting wet, too.


snakeavoidanceSnake Avoidance   
Active dogs in Southern California will likely encounter a rattler. Teaching them to back away could save their lives. Erick Briggs and Andy White (760-464-6792) recommend starting the pups as young as five months; classes are $75 per dog, plus a $50 fee for groups of fewer than five.


Images courtesy of (in order): (1) Flickr/NatalieMaynor, (2) Flickr/Dave Hamster, (3) Flickr/Waldo Jaquith, (4) Flickr/Mike Johnston



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