Shannoncourt graduates first C.L.A.S.S. in Ontario

Rottweiler shows C.L.A.S.S. as he completes Ph.D. evaluation

Date: April 17, 2012
Contact: Kendra Mckinnon, 613-528-1262
Contact: Shannon Spooner, 613-534-9262

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Kyrie Ransom and her C.L.A.S.S. Graduate Grey
Kyrie Ransom and her C.L.A.S.S. Graduate Grey

Martintown, Ontario – At Shannoncourt, dog training is more than a 45-minute class once a week – it is about working with owners to teach their dogs valuable Canine Life and Social Skills.  Shannoncourt has one of three registered Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.) evaluators in Ontario, with only eight registered across Canada.  Shannoncourt Trainer Kendra MacKinnon, APDT, and Registered C.L.A.S.S. evaluator, has evaluated and passed six-dogs with the C.L.A.S.S. B.A. for Dogs™, two-dogs with the C.L.A.S.S. M.A. for Dogs™, and one-dog with the C.L.A.S.S. Ph.D for Dogs™ designations.

“It was really important for me to be become an evaluator as part of the Canine Life and Social Skills curriculum, because canines and people have so much to offer one another, and this program enables that partnership to flourish,” said Kendra.  “This program encourages positive reinforcement, well socialized dogs and educated handlers, who in turn educate ‘non-dog’ people.  It's a wonderful program because it covers more than just obedience – it’s paving the way for dog owners and their dogs to be a bigger part of their society.”

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 difficulty and distractions, with teams being evaluated on real-life skills like having the dog politely sit and wait by their owner’s side for 1-minute, while their owner talks to another person.  The objectives of C.L.A.S.S. are to:

  • Promote reward-based training
  • Strengthen dog-owner relationships through shared activity and fun, positive training
  • Encourage dog owners to participate in ongoing training and activities with their dogs
  • Value the real-life skills of dog/owner teams
  • Educate pet owners in dog behavior

Natasha Hesse took the C.L.A.S.S. B.A. course with her dog Theo, a Rottweiler, who is a graduate from Shannoncourt’s Puppy-Kindergarten and Level 2 Puppy classes – then would go home and work with her second dog Bunty, a Newfoundlander mix.  Natasha completed and passed her evaluation with both dogs on the same day to earn them both the C.L.A.S.S. B.A. for Dogs™ with honors. 

“Theo and I really enjoyed the C.L.A.S.S. courses, Kendra has a way of making them fun.  The evaluation was more nerve racking for me, which added an extra element to the evaluation for the dogs but they still did great,” said Natasha. “The positive training courses offered at Shannoncourt have been great for our family and has helped strengthen our bonds.  It’s an amazing feeling to have a strong intelligent dog obey a cue because you asked them to.”

Natasha and Theo went on to complete the C.L.A.S.S. M.A. course offered at Shannoncourt.  They recently passed the evaluation for both the C.L.A.S.S. M.A. and Ph.D. on the same day, making them the first in Ontario to complete the C.L.A.S.S. series. Theo is now setting his sights on learning Treibball, continuing his education alongside Natasha.

“I think once a dog and handler pass their first level they are already seeing and feeling very confident that they can now go more places together,” said Kendra.

Dan McDonald and his Bernese Mountain dog Angus also completed and passed the C.L.A.S.S. M.A. for Dogs.  Dan has been a regular at Shannoncourt’s dog training classes, enjoying the time working with Angus.
“I liked taking the course, it was fun,” said Dan. “I enjoyed coming with Angus, I didn’t mind if he passed or not – Angus just likes it here at Shannoncourt.  He gets excited whenever we get to come here.”

The first pair to pass the C.L.A.S.S. B.A. for Dogs™ evaluation with honors was Kyrie Ransom and her working-line German Shepherd named Grey.  Kyrie and Grey are from the First Nations territory known as Akwesasne, and have in the past served as presenters on dog bite prevention workshops for children on reserve.  They are the first from both the U.S. and Canada to pass the evaluation from a First Nations territory, according to APDT officials.

“The course and evaluation were a very positive experience for us and really made us push our training to the next level,” said Kyrie.  “I’m looking forward to the C.L.A.S.S. M.A. for Dogs™, it’s great to continually improve our performance and reliability in real-life scenarios.”

The second pair to pass the C.L.A.S.S. B.A. for Dogs™ evaluation was Shannoncourt Owner/Head Trainer Shannon Spooner, CPDT-KA, and her dog Mouse – who graduated with honors.  Mouse was a rescue who has been trained by Shannon and is often a demonstration dog in her Puppy-Kindergarten and Level 2 Puppy classes.  Shannon and Mouse enjoy working together with Canine Freestyle routines in their down time, along with other trick training.

“Taking the C.L.A.S.S. evaluation was a nerve wrecking, heart pounding and most of all a very rewarding experience.  What a great feeling to be in sync with your dog as a teammate,” said Shannon.  “Even though I work with dogs every day, they always impress and amaze me and I think the C.L.A.S.S. evaluation really demonstrates the incredible communication that can be shared between a dog and a person.  I am so proud to be a part of the movement toward positive training in animals and feel wonderful about the achievements of our C.L.A.S.S. instructor and students.” 

Other recent graduates from the C.L.A.S.S. B.A. for Dogs™ certification include Penny Huculiak and her 17-month old Border Collie Jack, who is from Ewenique Border Collies in Ontario. Penny and Jack have also taken many of the classes offered through Shannoncourt, with Jack being a regular in their dog day care program.

Allison Taylor and her 10-month old terrier mix Bo round out Shannoncourt’s spring 2012 graduates who passed their evaluations.  Allison had adopted Bo’s mom who had been heartworm positive and pregnant, and after giving birth to five puppies in her kitchen, Allison found homes for four of the puppies and kept Bo.  Bo has also completed Shannoncourt’s Puppy-K and Puppy Level 2 classes, and also is a dog day care regular.

Shannoncourt strives to continue the education of their trainers and staff. They are a family-run business who expanded their operation in the spring of 2011 to include a second facility in Martintown, Ontario. 

Shannoncourt’s dog training operation focuses on family pets, offering training classes that encourage the entire family to participate in the process.  Once a puppy has completed either Puppy-Kindergarten and Level 2 Puppy, or has attended private lessons with Owner/Head Trainer Shannon Spooner, CPDT-KA, they can continue onto other introductory training classes, like Sport Dog (a mix of agility and rally obedience), Nose Work, Treibball, and of course, Canine Life and Social Skills.

For more information on these or other services offered at Shannoncourt contact them at 613-534-9262 (Long Sault) or 613-528-1262 (Martintown); or visit them online at to learn about their next set of classes.

To find out more about C.L.A.S.S. go to

How do I get started?

Download the Program Handbook to read about the C.L.A.S.S. rules and requirements.

How do I find an Evaluator?

All Evaluators will be listed as an Official C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator in the APDT Trainer Search.

What does the C.L.A.S.S. Program cost?

Visit our registration fees page for details on pricing.

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