Bay Area fur babies are being treated to way more than obedience classes and playtime in the park. At these local schools, pups are training to be circus stars, flyball jocks, and awesome dancers.
Get Your Freestyle Dance Moves On
If you're looking for an intense bonding experience with your furry companion, sign up for the San Francisco SPCA's Doggy Freestyle classes, where teamwork is all about movement and synchronization. Instructor Ruthanna Lev will help you set basic movements to music for a canine-centric dance routine: As you march, Fido raises his paws higher in step along with you; as you spin in a circle, he spins too. Take your practice public and be the new buskers of Rec and Parks! // Six-week courses are $165-$185 at SF SPCA, 243 Alabama St. (Mission), sfspca.org
Some dogs are born entertainers. At Canine Circus School, they'll learn plenty of tricks, including balancing a ball on their nose, flipping a light switch, and taking that well-earned bow. Most importantly, under the instruction of award-winning trainer Francis Metcalf, you and your dog will learn the the art of communication. Dogs of all ages, breeds and temperaments are welcome. // Six-week courses for various levels are $260 for new students and $195 for continuing students; Canine Circus School, 1005 53rd St. (Oakland), bayareadogtrainer.wordpress.com
Since 1989, Ace Dog Sports has been SF's go-to for high-speed agility training and competition. Dogs with hella energy learn to ump hurdles, climb pyramids, weave around cones and burrow through tunnels—and the exercise goes a long way toward strengthening basic obedience cues and building teamwork. At Ace, pups start with an 18-week obstacle training course. Competition classes will help more advanced athletes prepare to take on other jocks in the agility arena. // Six-week courses are $185; Ace Dog Sports, 677 Toland Pl. (Bayview), acedogsports.com
Calling All Water Dogs!
Great for both active dogs and those with limited mobility, the Rex Center offers assisted swimming with professional canine swim coaches as well as open swim sessions in their warm water pool. Only one dog swims at a time (unless you have two dogs and make a special reservation), and the low-impact exercise is a great way to provide Fido with a super-fun play sesh. // Swims are offered in 25- and 50-minute sessions ($65-$99) and multi-swim packs are available; The Rex Center, 1040 Palmetto Ave. (Pacifica), therexcenter.com
If your dog loves to fetch, she's going to love Bay Racers Flyball Club. Well-socialized dogs of all sizes, breeds and ages—with basic obedience skills and in good physical health—can partake in this canine sport, in which teams of dogs relay race over hurdles to a spring-loaded box that launches a tennis ball when pushed. The dog must catch the ball and return it to their handler before the next dog is released. The fastest team wins! // Four-month intro workshops are $125; Bay Racers Flyball Club, Southgate Park (Hayward), bayracers.com
Lead the Herd
Shepherds and collies were made for working livestock and at Vacaville's Herding 4 Ewe, they have the chance to fulfill their genetic destiny. Here city dogs will learn how to herd, in both an indoor arena and an outdoor field, with the help of 90 mixed breed sheep, 50 Indian Runner ducks and even some occasional cattle. // Herding 4 Ewe, 5212 Allendale Rd. (Vacaville), herding4u.com