Basic Obedience Class


Thank you for choosing to support the Atlanta Humane Society through the Training/Education Department. We believe education is the key to a kinder, gentler, pet-friendly world. Pets help people, and we help pets and people! Your contribution will ensure that our training and education programs will continue for years to come. Thank you!


The Atlanta Humane Society’s Basic Obedience classes give you the knowledge to have a more rewarding relationship with your dog by showing you how to teach your dog how best to behave in your household. Lessons include: pay attention, sit, stay, walk on leash without pulling, lie down, wait, come (all on leash), and more—though classes are NOT just about “commands.”

Classes last six consecutive weeks, once weekly, for about one hour per session, and homework is required. The object is to communicate more effectively with your pet and bond with him through rewards such as attention, praise, and treats, and keep him on the right track with positive leadership. Though specific “problem behaviors” such as chewing, excessive digging, or barking are not specifically covered, you will find that many of these behaviors disappear once you begin interacting with your dog using the proven methods we teach. Even dogs who already have a pretty good grasp of these commands can benefit from the socialization and added distraction of class, as well as our exclusive Leadership Protocols and Self-Control Exercises. It is never too late to have a great relationship with your dog!

“Don’t treat your dogs like humans, or they’ll treat you like dogs.” ~Martha Scott

Do you want your dog to behave whether or not you are holding a treat? So do we! We will show you how to get reliable behaviors without bribing your dog. Treats are great tools for teaching and reinforcing good behaviors, but our training will also give you results that last, with or without treats.

Are you worried that obedience training will take the fun out of your relationship with your dog? Don’t be! It will enhance it, and your dog will be happier when he knows exactly what to expect from you.

Are you worried that training means you won’t be able to love on your dog, or have him sleep with you? This is typically not the case. Petting and sleeping with a dog do not have to be at odds with training.

Are worried that training needs to be harsh or punitive? It doesn’t. Ours isn’t. It’s fun, and it works.

Classes are for puppies and dogs 4 months of age or older who have current vaccinations, including rabies (puppy vaccinations, including the rabies shot, are typically finished by the age of 4 months). All dogs must have Bordatella (kennel cough vaccine) as well, and the Canine influenza vaccine is strongly advised. Proof of vaccination status is required at check-in. Please email the instructor if you are not sure about your puppy’s eligibility.

Can’t wait for the next class? Have a dog who isn’t suitable for class? Our private training lessons may be just the ticket!

Classes fill quickly! Register soon so you don’t miss out!

Remember, the 1st class of every session is a mandatory orientation without the dog. This class cannot be skipped. If you cannot attend the initial class in the session you desire, please email the instructor before you register.

October 13th Tuesday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 6:30 pm*  Only 2 spaces left! Click here to register now.
October 13th Tuesday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 8:00 pm* FULL
October 15th Thursday MANSELL CAMPUS 7:00 pm FULL
November 7th (final start date for 2015) Saturday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 9:15 am* Spaces available! Click here to register now. NOTE: this class will NOT MEET on Saturday, November 28th due to the Thanksgiving holiday. It will graduate on December 19th.
November 7th (final start date for 2015) Saturday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 10:45 am* Spaces available! Click here to register now. NOTE: this class will NOT MEET on Saturday, November 28th due to the Thanksgiving holiday. It will graduate on December 19th.
January 8th, 2016 Friday MANSELL CAMPUS 10:00 am Spaces available! Click here to register now.
January 9th, 2016 Saturday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 9:15 am* Spaces available! Click here to register now.
January 9th, 2016 Saturday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 10:45 am* Spaces available! Click here to register now.
AHS Basic Obedience Classes are a great bargain at only $129 for the full 6-week session (though they are worth twice that) and include things other classes do not. The classes are open to dogs 4 months or older, who are current on vaccinations, generally friendly to people and other dogs, and not in heat. Dogs do not have to be Atlanta Humane Society adoptees. All classes come with weekly pre-class socialization (if applicable to your dog) and lifetime class support. Pre-registration is required.

DON’T LET THE LOW PRICE FOOL YOU! The instructor graciously teaches this class at a lower price than other places not because this class is a lesser value, but because we want to continue to be a resource for the communities we serve. Ask around; chances are your friends or neighbors have trained with us and will assure you that some things in life are still a great bargain. You can pay more elsewhere, but you won’t get a better experience.

  • The first week of every session is a 2-hour mandatory orientation (without your dog). All potential handlers age 10 to adult are encouraged to attend with the main handler.
  • For Friday morning and Saturday morning classes, this orientation is held from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
  • For all evening classes, this orientation is held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
  • The * times referenced above in the table are when the rest of that session’s classes will begin. For instance, Tuesday evening classes for weeks 2-6 begin at either 6:30pm or 8:00pm, but the orientation (first week) is 7:00pm to 9:00pm.
  • All classes take place at the Atlanta Humane Society, at either the Howell Mill campus located at 981 Howell Mill Rd. N.W. in Atlanta, or the Mansell campus, located at 1565 Mansell Rd. in Alpharetta (see class table above for the location of the class you are registering for). All classes in the session are at the same location.
  • The mandatory first class of every session lasts 2 hours, is for people only, and takes place indoors. The remaining classes are taught in the Shelter parking lot or inside if necessary (due to uncomfortable temperatures, excessive wind, rain, high humidity, etc). Don’t worry; we won’t let you (or your dog) freeze or fry!
  • Classes meet once per week, always at the same location. After the orientation week, all classes last about an hour (pre-class socialization begins 15 minutes prior to class start time).
  • Well-behaved children are always welcome to attend class with their parents, though for everyone’s safety and comfort, please note the following rules: children under the age of 8 are required to be under the supervision of an adult who is not the main handler of the dog (one parent will not be able to manage young children and the dog). Children 8 and up may participate in the dog’s instruction in class, but the adult(s) will be the main handlers–especially when walking the dog to and from the car, into the building, etc. Please email the instructor if you have questions about your child’s suitability for class. You know your children best, and sometimes, kids make even better handlers than adults (not as much baggage).

Please contact us to discuss your dog’s issues if you are not sure how he will react to other dogs or people. Often, people mistake poor leash manners, fear, or other reactions such as barking as aggression, when they may not be. Please email the Training Department if you have questions or concerns.

  • Classes fill up quickly, so pre-registration and payment are required.
  • HOW to REGISTER and PAY: You may register and pay securely online by clicking the registration link next to the class you prefer; or register and pay in person with cash or credit card at either Atlanta Humane Society shelter (regardless of the class location you prefer) during regular business hours (forms are available at the shelter, or you may download a registration form here and print and take it with you). Email the Training Department with any questions.
  • You will receive an email confirmation when your registration is complete, and an email reminder a few days before your class begins. Please email us if you do not receive a confirmation from us within 48 hours of payment.
  • REFUNDS or CHANGES: Life happens to the best of us. If you have registered and paid for a class and realize it no longer fits with your dog, your family, or your schedule, please let us know as soon as possible. If you give us at least 24 hours notice, we can switch you to any class in the future, apply your funds already paid to private lessons (redeemable at any time), or refund your money. Once the class has begun, no refunds can be given. Remember, the first class of the session is mandatory.
Mailey E. McLaughlin, M.Ed. is the Atlanta Humane Society Behavior & Training Manager. She holds the titles Certified Dog Trainer-Advanced, and Professional Dog Training Instructor through the International Association of Canine Professionals (where she is also on the Board of Directors, currently as Vice-President). She is also a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and a certified Pet First Aid Instructor. An Atlanta native, Mailey has been working with people and their pets for over 32 years, teaching professionally for 15+ years, and has built the AHS’ Training program from the ground up. She has years of experience working with shelter dogs and their owners. Mailey believes training should be fun, fair, results-oriented, and geared toward pet owners who “have a life” and do not have hours every day to devote to training. She is devoted to improving the relationship between pets and owners through calm, positive communication, not dominance. Since there is no “one right way” to train every dog, Mailey continues to educate herself professionally and has cultivated many approaches to problem-solving. She believes the dog is the best indicator of how well the training is going. You get out what you put into your dog, but training need not be boring, time-consuming, or harsh to work. You CAN have the dog you deserve! See you in class!
“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Mailey’s teaching.  She is so thorough and explains everything with clarity, patience and a desire to see everyone succeed.  It’s very obvious that her passion for the dogs reveals a very caring and giving heart and I can tell sharing her wisdom and experience with obedience training isn’t a “have to” job for her, it gives her joy.  I will be continuing on to the next level in the spring with her and my dog, Lily.  This is a wonderful program.”

“We adopted a great hound puppy from your Mansell Rd. location and signed up for classes. Mailey helped us tremendously not only with Rebel (his new well-earned name), but with our other two older dogs as well. We were able to apply what we learned in class to our pack. Mailey knows so much and delivers it in an effective fun way. She is a blessing to the Humane Society and I hope we are able to take advantage of more of her classes. We’d love for her to do more at the Mansell location!”

“Just wanted to send an email to say what a WONDERFUL job Mailey did conducting the Basic Obedience Course. Her knowledge on dog behavior is phenomenal. In addition, she responded promptly to any questions that were emailed to her throughout the week. The change in my puppy is amazing! I will definitely sign up for the other training course! VERY pleased with the results.”

“Just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed the inaugural Basic Obedience Class at the AHS Mansell Road Campus.To begin with, Mailey McLaughlin is an OUSTANDING INSTRUCTOR! Her enthusiasm, passion and dedication to caring for dogs is so apparent and inspiring. You can tell that she truly loves her profession. The class was extremely organized, complete with printed homework assignments and reminder emails each week that kept the momentum going for the week’s previous lesson. We had a good-sized class, but Mailey made sure that everyone felt included and was always available for questions – either in class or via email. Additionally, at the end of the course, Mailey provided book suggestions for continued training, which I thought was really helpful. I’ve heard about other expensive classes around Atlanta, but after taking this class, I genuinely don’t know how one could find a more well-run and top-notch program than the one Mailey provides. The $119 price tag on the class is such a value, I have already begun recommending the class to people I see at the dog park and to other dog owners in my neighborhood. The volunteers were also wonderful and really kept things running smoothly. I am so impressed with the AHS at both locations, that its hard to remember that the dogs that live there are actually homeless because they are in such great hands between the loving volunteers and committed staff that run both facilities.Thank you for a wonderful experience for Elly and I. We might consider the advanced class at some point down the road as well. The dogs of Atlanta are so lucky to have the AHS ———- thanks to everyone!”

“I just wanted to take some time to tell you how amazing our experience was at Mailey’s basic obedience class. I could not have asked for a better trainer! We have learned so much over the last few weeks and will definitely sign up for one of the intermediate classes. Charlie and Axel thank you guys!”

“I just finished up obedience training with Mailey. She was absolutely 110% amazing. The class met and exceeded my expectations. My pup Guinness is still very young and learning and we were a bit behind the rest of the other doggie students but Guinness is progressing at his own pace. Mailey and everyone in class made it such a great experience and I would love to move into the second phase once Guinness gets up to that level. Mailey was even complimented by Susie at the Atlanta Dog Trainer which is huge to hear trainers compliment each other. I knew I was in good hands once Susie confirmed that.”

“Hey~ Just wanted to write y’all to say that I just finished a doggy training class with Mailey and she is wonderful! She is so knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor. She has the ability to give a lot of good information in a comprehensive and understandable way. I definitely want to take the intermediate class in the Spring!”

“I just wanted to send a note to state how awesome my dog training class was with Mailey. I had heard from some friends and my best friend (who is a vet in Atlanta) how great and worth it that it was to attend Mailey’s classes–so I drove from Cartersville every Tuesday night to attend… and I wanted to email you to state that it was worth the drive to come! You have a jewel on your hands–and we are lucky to have her. My dog and I truly benefitted!!”

“We just finished our obedience training and our new graduate, Molly, is a happy, loving addition to our family. Our experience with the Atlanta Humane Society was such a positive one on so many fronts. As first time dog owners we were sort of clueless on what to expect. Just like first time parents who are always calling the pediatrician, we were pretty insecure about most things that we were doing. Thank goodness for Mailey! Every time I sent her an email with a question, I always received an immediate response, which was always patient and instructional as well as reassuring. From the first class, Mailey knew our names as well as our dog’s name and always made us feel that we had adopted a really special dog. Her responses, even in her written communication, were not “pat” answers, they always related to Molly and her specific behaviors. Mailey’s energy level, her consistency and her obvious love of animals was inspiring. She really got us to begin to understand our dog from her point of view. I am sure that if Molly could articulate gratitude she would say “thank you” to Mailey as well.”