Training at Canine to Five: It Ain't Just for Dogs!

Training Humans at Canine to Five

Recently a client asked us how our staff is trained. We value transparency so we decided to share our process. Check it out and as always please come to us with any questions about our training of humans or dogs. We love to talk!

Hands-on training

New Canine to Five Pack Leaders get their initial introduction to canine behavior and pack leadership by completing an intensive 10 shift hands-on training program working directly with one of our Playroom Supervisors. This training program is carefully designed to set clear expectations for the way that our Pack Leaders interact with and lead our groups. Our on-boarding program emphasizes safe, force-free handling, and the ability to identify, interpret and communicate behaviors.


Pack Leaders also complete FetchFind Monthly Pro, an interactive online learning program that focuses on canine ethology (the study of behavior), evolution, body language, breed group knowledge, stages of development, normal and abnormal behavior and insight into how dogs learn. We asked our FetchFind advisor Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA, why her company created this educational program and she said “FetchFind supports pet businesses in building a staff focused on client care (for both pets and people). As a natural outcome, pet staff are more engaged. Staff engagement leads to empowerment and we know that is one of the single biggest factors in preventing staff turnover. FetchFind helps to create win-win situations.”

We also asked Erin how FetchFind’s coursework was developed and she told us, “FetchFind Monthly Pro lessons are developed from our vast library of content, which has been developed over the last 20 years of research, testing, and real-life application (particularly through our in-person training academy in Chicago). We meticulously update and review all of our sources to ensure we’re aligned with the most current, authoritative, and science-based practices and professionals across the entire pet industry.”

Canine to Five’s work with FetchFind is another way we demonstrate our commitment to improving the lives of our dogs, their humans and our staff.

Camera Review

We know many of our customers love streaming the video feed of our playrooms and the truth is we do too! Every week, each of our Supervisors review camera footage of our playrooms to identify moments when our Pack Leaders are demonstrating excellence in their handling as well as opportunities for growth. They use this camera footage as a coaching opportunity and review it with pack leaders, explaining step by step what the pack leader is doing perfectly as well as what they could have done differently. We also review footage from our archives with newly hired Pack Leaders as a teaching tool.

Pack Leader Levels

Effective dog training is all about rewards and reinforcement and the same applies to training humans. So how do we motivate our staff to increase their knowledge and skills as pack leaders? We pay them more when they do! We have a Pack Leader Skill Level testing system and as the level of difficulty increases, so does their hourly wage.

In order to move up to a higher Pack Leader Level, Pack Leaders must first qualify to start the testing process based on their Pack Leader Ratings. Our supervisors score each of our Pack Leaders biweekly based on 25 categories of skills and knowledge. These scores are averaged which gives our Pack Leaders an overall rating from 1-5. Second, Pack Leaders must pass a hands-on assessment administered by a Supervisor in which they demonstrate their handling skills on the spot. Third, they must pass a written assessment which tests their knowledge of canine body language and behavior.

The Pack Leader Rating criteria and assessments are rigorous and the process is self driven. We love that our staff is full of ambitious go-getters who are willing to put in the effort it takes to improve their skills and we are dedicated to providing the resources, coaching, and encouragement they need to become experts.


We aren’t ashamed to admit it: we are dog nerds. Spending hours listening to presentations on the latest discoveries in the study of canine behavior may not be everyone’s idea of a great time, but it is ours. Our supervisors and managers have attended seminars on ‘Canine Adolescence’ with acclaimed behaviorist Suzanne Clothier, ‘Fearful and Feral Dog Rehabilitation’ with Katelin Thomas of K9 Turbo Training, and our entire staff attended a seminar on ‘Canine Body Language’ lead by Katelin Thomas and Kate Wilson, lead trainer at Ann Arbor’s Creature Conservancy. All Pack Leaders are certified in canine first aid. We also sent our Employee Development Manager to ZingTrain’s Bottom Line Training seminar, which focuses specifically on creating and maintaining effective training programs. Yes that’s right, our training is so extensive that we have a management staff position specifically dedicated to running it. You can read more about our Employee Development Manager, Jesse, here.

Training Matters

We love our staff and we value their development, both professional and personal. We also love our clients, both human and dog. Emphasizing extensive, ongoing training is our way of making sure that both our staff and clients are getting the very best experience possible at Canine to Five!

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