Fear-Free, Force-Free

Puppy Head Start

Puppyhood does not last long, and it’s the most important development period in a dog’s life. Our Puppy Head Start program sets your puppy up for a thriving adolescence and well-adjusted adulthood here in the District.

What Is Puppy Head Start?

Led by our Puppy Specialist and our team of certified dog trainers, our Puppy Head Start program is a drop-and-train style class (meaning you drop your puppy off with us) that takes place each Monday and Thursday at our Columbia Heights location.

Puppy Head Start is all about teaching young dogs how to learn, play with others, be independent, and recognize that new things are good. We do this in a purely positive and force-free way for each puppy.

Our Puppy Head Start class sizes are extremely small, based on individual attention, and focus on each puppy's mental, physical, and emotional needs. We also set goals and create lesson plans for each puppy based on your lifestyle and future with the puppy.

We support you, the puppy parent(s). Getting a new puppy and integrating them successfully into your household is an enormous commitment and a lot of work. We’ll help you, support you, and serve as a resource throughout your journey.

Meet The Team
View Our Curriculum

Puppy Head Start Curriculum

Healthy, well-behaved, and well-mannered puppies through socialization, training, and parental support.


Our Puppy Head Start program operates on a modular schedule with different themes that you can choose from.

  • The Thriving Urban Puppy 
    • Cars, trains, sirens, buses, metal grates, skateboards, scooters, construction, trucks, and bicycles are everyday occurrences in the city. For puppies, these are all new, and they don't know what to think of them. This class works to build your dog's confidence with the unpredictable nature of the city through positive experiences. Your puppy will also get the opportunity to learn essential manners to acclimate them to city life, including leash walking and impulse control.
  • The Down to Party Puppy
    • Want to travel with your puppy on a plane, take them to parties, or leave them at home without worry on the Fourth of July? This Puppy Head Start class aims to help your puppy accept the unpredictable situations that happen during the holidays with positive socialization. Your puppy will experience scary noises and experiences like fireworks, yelling, party poppers, costumes, and crowds, all in a controlled and fun-filled environment.
  • The Well-Groomed Puppy 
    • Long hair, short hair, hairless, or somewhere in between, your puppy will need to experience grooming practices at some point in their lives. Grooming and handling are invasive, and our dogs don't know why it is happening. In this class, your puppy will learn the foundations to begin to tolerate everything involved in grooming: The clippers and scissors, the bath, dryers, nail clippers and grinders, brushes, and the grooming table. This class is also perfect for desensitization for vet visits!
  • Puppy Play Date
    • Your puppy has attended class, played with friends, and learned a ton; now is the time for you to ask questions! Join your puppy for an optional in-person class to ask your trainer questions, meet your puppy's friends, learn about appropriate puppy play, and have fun! (Puppy Parent in-person attendance is not required!)

While we encourage you to sign up for a mix of each class, we understand that each family has different priorities regarding puppies! That’s why each lesson is packed with Active Socialization, Passive Socialization, Grooming Skills, Training Skills, and Novel Events to help your puppy succeed, no matter which class they’re in.

Active socialization includes objects and events that need a careful introduction, such as a blow dryer, thunderstorms, or an opening umbrella.

Once the puppy completes both classes of Puppy Head Start, they should be able to thrive in an urban environment, a group setting, a full grooming session, and have a foundation for basic manners training. They will also receive a Certificate of Completion at the end of each 6-week cycle.

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Puppy Head Start Schedule

The class will take place at the Columbia Heights location (3303 11th St NW) on Mondays and Thursdays. No refunds or credits will be given for missed classes.

Puppies 8-21 weeks old on the day of class:

9:00am to 12:00pm 


2:00pm to 5:00pm


Ready To Start?

Pricing: $90 per class (6-week cycle)


  • Age: At least 8 weeks old at the start of the class
  • Vaccinations (Minimum): 1st round of Distemper, Parvovirus, Bordetella
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Meet Our Trainers

What Makes Us Special?

No Shock, No Prong, No Choke

All of our trainers are Pet Professional Guild members and adhere to its guiding principles: respect, do no harm, do good, act fairly.

Fear, Force &
Pain Free

Our code of ethics is based on a least intrusive, minimally aversive effective behavior intervention policy.


The knowledge and skill of our trainers is independently certified by the leading certification programs in the industry.


Easily combine with our other services for a comprehensive approach to care for your pup.

Simple Flat Rate Pricing

Clear, easy-to-understand pricing.