How We Teach You to Train Your Dog

Listen to a podcast about our classes

 Read an article on our holistic approach to training

Green Acres Kennel Shop is a pet friendly, force-free, fear-free, pain-free facility and we meet or exceed the standards set in the Position Statements of The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the behavior guidelines of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).



Our Training Team: Knowledgeable and Certified

Green Acres boasts a training staff that includes three Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA), who collectively possess over fifty years of combined training experience. To be eligible for certification as a CPDT-KA, trainers must accumulate 300 hours of instructional experience, submit a written reference from a veterinarian, colleague, and training student, and pass a written exam. The exam content covers the science of training, canine behavior and health, and elements of successful human/canine instruction.


All employees on the Green Acres Kennel Shop staff are members of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and support and follow the PPG’s Guiding Principles. Green Acres Kennel Shop has been voted the region’s Best Dog Trainer by Market Surveys of America every year since 2011 and in December of 2019 was recognized as one of the Top 20 Dog Trainers in New England in Best Businesses of America’s 20th annual Best of New England ratings for 2019.

Don Hanson, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA leads Green Acres’ training team. He is a past Chair/President of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and was their Dr. Ian Dunbar Member of the year in 2014. 

Each of our introductory training classes has no more than five students and is typically co-taught by a lead and assistant trainer, thus ensuring you’ll receive ample individual support and assistance.


Real Life Training for Real Life Dogs

walking on a loose leash 800x477A happy, well-mannered dog does not develop overnight, nor without the investment of a family’s time and effort. The dog’s home environment, as well as the people it interacts with influences what it learns and how it behaves.

At Green Acres, it is our mission to help you manage what your dog learns and teach you to train behaviors you like and to prevent behaviors you do not like. By doing so we hope to help you and your dog become best friends for life.

Six central principles are at the core of our training program: 

  • Understanding and Respect
  • Reward Based Training
  • Improving Communication
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Managing for Success
  • Individualized Attention

Understanding and Respect

At Green Acres, we strongly believe that the key to developing a great relationship between you and your dog begins with education. We want you to understand your dog and how to work with its natural talents and abilities instead of against them.

Our classes help bridge this cultural divide by educating you about normal canine behavior, abnormal behavior, and why dogs behave the way they do. Education and understanding will enable you to meet your dog’s needs, train for success, and manage challenging behaviors.

We do not adhere to the dominance construct or punishment in dog training as it has been proven to be severely flawed and is counter-productive to a positive relationship. We encourage you to read our Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs on our website.

Reward Based Training Methods

Positive training methods help develop happy, healthy human/canine relationships. Green Acres prides itself on using dog-friendly methods to help our canine companions learn to reside peacefully in our homes and lives. Because our style is one of teaching with kindness and compassion, we encourage all family members, including children, to become involved in the training process.

Dogs, like all other creatures, perform and repeat behaviors that are rewarding to them. In class, we use this to our advantage by rewarding good behaviors and ignoring and managing to prevent behaviors we do not like. Green Acres uses clickers, verbal markers, and rewards to teach dogs a wide variety of behaviors (What is clicker training). Not only is clicker training scientifically proven, but it is also the most effective, humane training method and allows for a fun, relaxed atmosphere. By understanding the process behind training, you will be able to teach your dog virtually anything you wish.

Improved Communication

Good communication is critical for teaching a person or an animal; however, the reality is dogs and humans speak two very different languages, and our relationships are often fraught with misunderstanding that can negatively impact training. We’ll discuss how dogs communicate to help you to better understand what your dog may be feeling and how that is impacting their behavior. We’ll also discuss what you are trying to communicate to your dog, how you are expressing your message and how that may be affecting what your dog is learning.

Realistically, your dog already knows how to sit. The goal of training is not to teach your dog to sit, but rather to teach your dog to sit when you cue the behavior.

In training, timing is everything and the use of the clicker more clearly communicates to your dog the exact moment when they have performed the desired behavior. Reading our dogs’ body language and knowing what they are feeling will also help us in our effort to train them. Our emotions affect our ability to learn and by being able to recognize our dogs emotional states (anxiety, over-excitement, etc.) we can more effectively plan our training.

Critical Thinking Skills

At Green Acres, we are constantly asking our clients to consider the following:  What is your dog learning right at this moment and is it something you want them to learn?

Our dogs are constantly learning, from you as well as everything in their environment and it is up to you, the owner, to determine what they learn. To be able to do this you must think critically when you are working with your dog. One of our major goals at Green Acres is to help you become skilled at stepping back and questioning what your dog is learning at all times and determining ways to trouble shoot problematic behaviors.

Managing For Success

Easily one of the most overlooked components of training is the management of the dog’s environment and what behaviors they are inadvertently learning and practicing. A dog that is allowed to practice jumping on people will learn to jump on people. The key is to learn how to prevent the environment and others from rewarding behaviors that you do not want and to set your dog up to be successful in progressive steps.

Individualized Attention

One of the hallmarks of Green Acres training classes is our small class sizes. We strongly believe that to receive the best experience possible and to help you achieve your goals that personal attention is essential. It is not uncommon for a Green Acres class to have an instructor/student ratio of 2:5 so we can best help each team individually. We look forward to assisting you and your canine companion as you embark on this journey together.


Dr. Mark Hanks Interviews Green Acres' Don Hanson and Kate Dutra on Thier Approach to Dog Training

You can learn more about Green Acres Kennel Shops approach to dog training in this series of interviews with Dr. Mark Hanks interviewing Don Hanson and Kate Dutra about training. Just click on the links below to listen to the interview.

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks - part 1

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks - part 2

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks - part 3



Class Requirements & Registration

The primary handler in our classes must be at least 14 years old, or have been pre-approved by the instructor.

All dogs attending our classes need to be current on vaccinations for distemper, rabies and canine cough (Bordetella). You will need to provide a copy of your pet's most recent vaccination record before the first class. Due to their age, puppies are not expected to have been vaccinated for rabies.

Classes are held indoors at Green Acres. We also hold some classes outdoors when the dogs are ready for extra distractions and as the weather permits.

Our classes are small and fill very quickly, so we suggest you register as soon as possible.  To reserve a place, fill out the appropriate registration form, sign the waiver of liability on the back, and return it with the class fee.  Please indicate your second choice for class dates and times, in case, your first choice is not available.  If you would like to observe a class before registering, please give us a call at 945-6841 to make arrangements.

Your registration will be confirmed as soon as we have payment. You may withdraw from a class and receive a refund (minus a $15 handling fee) anytime up until 14 days before the first class. After this time your registration fee becomes non-refundable.

Please call 945-6841 if you have any questions.

Download Registration Form (PDF)

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