Why Puppy Head Start?

Puppyhood does not last long, and it’s the most important development period in a dog’s life. Puppy Head Start is designed to proactively take advantage of the critical time that young dogs experience between the age of approximately 8 weeks and sexual maturity.

Why we created Puppy Head Start

How It Works

We have two puppy class sections, Part One that begins for puppies at 8 weeks and lasts until 16 weeks, and Part Two for puppies that begins at 16 weeks and lasts until 24 weeks.

To be eligible to enroll in Part One, a dog must be 8-9 weeks old, and the customer must commit their dog to the entirety of the 8 week program.

To be eligible to enroll in Part Two, a dog must be 16 weeks old and have completed Part One OR undergone a behavior assessment to determine temperament and eligibility.

Classes are held Wednesdays and Fridays at our Columbia Heights location.

Classes for both Part One and Part Two Begin

  • The first Wednesday in January - FULL
  • The first Wednesday in March - FULL
  • The first Wednesday in May - 2 spots left
  • The first Wednesday in July - 3 spots left
  • The first Wednesday in September

Part One runs from 8:30-11:30am (drop off as early as 8am; pick up as late as noon)

Part Two runs from 1:00-4:00pm (drop off as early as 12:30pm; pick up as late as 5)

Missed classes cannot be made up and will not be refunded.

Watch Puppy Head Start In Action

What we do

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

Our Puppy Head Start classes are extremely small, based on individual attention, and focus on the mental, physical, and emotional needs of each puppy. 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.

Program Details

Have questions? Ask us virtually

What We Focus On:

  • Socialization
  • Puppy Manners
  • How to Play with Others
  • How to Learn
  • Choice, Consent, and Motivation
  • How to Share Toys
  • How to be Independent and Rest
  • Potty Training
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Puppy Head Start Program Goal

At the end of our Puppy Head Start program your dog will have the foundations for a thriving adolescence, well-adjusted adulthood, and be set up for success wherever life may take them to: Dog Montessori School, dog training, on a calm walk past rollerblades, dog day care, dog parks, your office, sidewalk cafes, airplanes, cars, the groomer, or the veterinarian, to name only a few.

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What makes us special

World Class Program

Our purely positive, force free, and science-based program is founded on the education of animal behavior luminaries such as Karen Pryor, Victoria Stilwell, Pat Miller, Patricia McConnell, Ian Dubnar, and Prasorp Tipprasert, as well as the research of world class institutions including the Duke University Canine Cognition Center, The Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and the Mandalao Elephant Conservation. Instructors are independently certified professional dog trainers and specialize in puppy socialization.

Meet the Instructors

Watch your dog whenever you want through one of our live webcams


Dog Walking Included

All of our day care guests get outdoor walks
We can save you time

Staff to Puppy Ratio

Patrick's Pet Care provides the lowest dog to staff ratio anywhere in DC: 5 to 1

Staff Dog Trainers

All the staff at Patrick's Pet Care are force free certified dog trainers
Monthly customers get all sorts of awesome things!
Ready to Start?

New Customers

Basic Requirements
  • Age: 8 weeks to 6 months
  • Weight: < 25lbs
  • Vaccinations (Minimum): 1st round of Distemper, Parvovirus, Bordetella 

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Locations & Schedules

Meet the Founder

About Patrick

Patrick founded Patrick's Pet Care in March 2012 as a dog walking company in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. His values for operating a pet care business are based on a genuine love of animals, a commitment to do the right thing, and a personal approach to meeting the needs of all the animals and people who depend on Patrick's Pet Care. A core pillar of this philosophy is a firm belief in corporate social responsibility standards. Patrick believes all employees deserve to be paid a District of Columbia living wage, receive health insurance coverage, and paid time off in order to provide the best care to our clients. Fundamentally, Patrick aims to create thriving relationships between people and their canine companions, using science and consent based methods without fear, pain or force.

Patrick is a certified force free dog trainer, certified fear free dog groomer, and a Certified Professional Animal Care Operator (CPACO).


Don't have your puppy yet?

If you’re just getting started or planning for your future puppy, start your journey with a free 15 minute pre-puppy virtual consultation, where, among other things, we will suggest you get one or more of these three fantastic books:

The Puppy Primer
by Patricia B. McConell, PhD
Before & After Getting your Puppy
by Dr. Ian Dunbar, PhD
Puppy Start Right
by Dr. Kenneth M. Martin, DVM

Schedule a free 15 minute pre-puppy virtual consultation to ask any questions you may have about:

  • Evaluating a breeder
  • Setting up your house for success
  • How to evaluate a puppy at a shelter
  • Breed traits Q & A
  • Picking a veterinarian
  • Top 5 things new puppy parents forget

Pre Puppy Q&A sign up

  • 30-Minute Walk M/W/F & Day Care T/R
  • 30-Minute Walk T/R & Day Care M/W/F

Group Training & Socialization Classes

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Additonal Services

In addition to Puppy Head Start, we also Dog Montessori School for adolescents and adults, grooming by fear free certified groomers, as well as force free purely positive dog training. You can also balance your dog's week by doing a combination package of dog walking from your home on some days and day care on other days.