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 from the start date, 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!


AHS Basic Obedience Classes are a great bargain at only $149.00 for the full 6-week session (though they are worth twice that) and include things other classes do not.  **HOLIDAY SPECIAL! Register for any upcoming class before Thursday, December 5th and save $10 off your registration fee!**

To attend this class, dogs must meet the following requirements by Week 2 of the session:

  • They must be 4 months or older
  • They must be current with the following vaccinations: rabies, DH(L)PP, and bordatella (kennel cough). Proof is required at check-in. The Canine influenza vaccine is not required, but is strongly advised
  • They must be spayed (females) or neutered (males) if they are older than 8 months. Some exceptions may apply; email the instructor to ask before you register
  • They must be generally friendly* to people and other dogs (see DOG TEMPERAMENT NOTE under “Training Details” tab below). Dogs with bite histories to humans or other dogs are not suitable for class.

Dogs do not have to be Atlanta Humane Society adoptees.

All classes come with a weekly pre-class “meet-n-greet” (if applicable to your dog–some exclusions apply and are discussed at orientation) 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.

“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 give affection to 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 you worried that training needs to be harsh or punitive? It doesn’t. Ours isn’t. It’s fun, and it gives you results.


Do you have multiple dogs and want each to come to class? We do allow two dogs from one family to attend simultaneously if 1.) each will have a separate, dedicated handler every week (the first must be an adult and the second handler must be at least 16 years old), and 2.) the dogs are not siblings, or unrelated but similarly-aged puppies or adults that have been raised together from a young age. (Siblings and puppies raised this way have challenges that make classes together difficult, and do much better when separated for class.) If you want to register two dogs for class, please email the instructor first to make sure it is OK. We want to do what is best for each dog, and ultimately provides a better experience for everyone.

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!

IMPORTANT NOTE: the initial class of every session is a mandatory orientation without the dog. The orientation is 2 hours in length and because of this, it may begin at an earlier time than the rest of the classes (see Training Details below). This class must be attended by at least one adult (18+) member of the household in which the dog lives. If you cannot attend the initial class in the session you desire, please email the instructor before you register. A friend or family member cannot attend in your place unless they also live with the dog.

This is to ensure that you have the full class experience and do not get confused about what needs to be done at home. It may be possible for you to attend a different orientation (one that takes place prior to yours) if one is available.

January 4th, 2020 Saturday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 9:15 am* FULL; waitlist available. Email [email protected] to inquire.
January 4th, 2020 Saturday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 10:45 am* FULL; waitlist available. Email [email protected] to inquire.
January 21st, 2020 Tuesday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 6:30 pm* Registration is open! Reserve your spot now, because classes fill quickly. Click this link to register.
January 21st, 2020 Tuesday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 8:00 pm* Registration is open! Reserve your spot now, because classes fill quickly. Click this link to register.
January 23rd, 2020 Thursday MANSELL CAMPUS 7:00 pm* Registration is open! Reserve your spot now, because classes fill quickly. Click this link to register.
February 22nd Saturday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 9:15 am* Registration opens November 20th
February 22nd Saturday HOWELL MILL CAMPUS 10:45 am* Registration opens November 20th
  • 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 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 6:30 pm or 8:00 pm, but the orientation (first week) is 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
  • 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 (i.e., if you register for a Howell Mill class, it will always be at Howell Mill).
  • The mandatory first class of every session lasts 2 hours, is for people only, and takes place indoors. The remaining classes are taught  indoors and partially in the Shelter parking lot, depending on the lesson.  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 “meet-n-greet” 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). Kids can get bored, though, so please bring a book or game for them to do quietly if they have a hard time sitting still.
  • *DOG TEMPERAMENT NOTE: being wary of strangers, timid around people or dogs, or even a bit aloof is typically not a problem. Does your dog prefer people to other dogs? We have no problem with that. However, all dogs must be able to tolerate, without showing aggression, the presence of other leashed dogs and humans moving normally in the classroom setting. You must be able to safely control your dog walking to and from class, etc, and be able to keep the dog out of other dogs’ faces and spaces during the leashed portion of the class. This is for the safety of all. Please email the instructor if you have questions.

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: Please register and pay securely online by clicking the registration link next to the class you prefer; this works best on laptop or desktop computers (as opposed to mobile phones) and will enable you to schedule yourself a reminder email. You may also register and pay in person with cash or credit card at any Atlanta Humane Society shelter (regardless of the class location you prefer) during regular business hours. Just tell an Adoption Counselor that you would like to pay for a training class and they will ring you up. Online registration is recommended. Email the Training Department if you do pay in person–that way the instructor will be able to get you on her roster and send you a confirmation.
  • You will receive an email confirmation when your registration is complete, and you can choose to receive 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 online 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 email notice at least 24 hours prior to the class start time, we can switch you to any class in the future, or refund your money. Once the class session 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 18+ 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.”

“Hello, I wanted to drop you a line about how awesome Mailey’s basic obedience class is. She is a wonderful dog trainer. Patient, knowledgeable, super fun and extremely informative are just a few words to describe Mailey and her class. Also, the two ladies who helped out each week were fantastic! We are so thankful to see our dog, Apollo, become more obedient and easier to deal with. We look forward to the intermediate class. ”

“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!”

“I would like to extend my extreme happiness with Mailey and how she teaches the basic obedience class. The knowledge and passion she has for dogs is so apparent and positive. I couldn’t get my dog to sit for the life of me!! She now sits, lays, stays, comes, and heels.  I will definitely be back for the intermediate class! Thank you for being a wonderful shelter and employing exceptional staff!

“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 $139 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.”