What to Expect at Your Dog’s Educational Daycare Evaluation


Curious about what to expect when you sign your dog up for an Educational Daycare evaluation at Crossbones? Here is what you can expect, and what our team members are looking for from you and your dog.

Getting Started

The evaluation starts as soon as you and your dog arrive at Crossbones. Educational Daycare attendees must be under their owner’s control in the parking lot and lobby. A member of our staff will come out to meet you in the lobby* and briefly outline the evaluation process. We’ll take your dog into one of our play courts and begin the assessment.

*=At this time, we are still using an outdoor pen for pick-up & drop-off procedures as part of our COVID-19 plan. You can view a video of this process here. At the conclusion of your dog’s evaluation, you may come inside to speak with the evaluator.

You will need to wait outside during the evaluation. For many dogs, it is distracting or upsetting to them if they can hear you and smell you, but not see you. For this reason, we no longer allow clients to wait in the lobby during their dog’s evaluation.

The Evaluation

The first element of the evaluation is your dog’s opportunity to check out our indoor play space. Your dog can walk around and sniff the room, check out our toys, have a sip of water, etc. The evaluator will remain quiet and neutral during this part of the evaluation. This gives your dog a chance to settle in without being distracted by a person. They will observe your dog to make sure they seem comfortable and confident in the space.

The evaluator will watch closely for signs of stress, such as excessive panting, whining, or trying to jump the fence. Any accidents, including urine marking, in the space will also be noted (and cleaned up). More than one accident during the evaluation is a failure. Please give your dog ample time to relieve themselves outside before their appointment.

Next, our evaluator will assess your dog’s interest in interacting with people. They will greet your dog and ask them to sit and come when called in exchange for food rewards. They will also pet your dog, and lead them a short distance by their collar. The goal is that your dog responds to the evaluator’s cues, is comfortable being petted, and goes willingly with them while being led by the collar. If your dog does not respond to our evaluator, they will not pass the evaluation.

Remember that Educational Daycare is meant to maintain the training your dog already knows. If your dog is not trained, they are not going to pass an evaluation here.

Interacting with Other Dogs

If your dog is comfortable in our play space and responding appropriately to the evaluator, the next part of the evaluation is introducing them to other dogs. Your dog will be introduced to 2-4 other dogs, one at a time. The evaluator, joined by an assistant, will watch carefully to make sure your dog is either neutral or friendly towards other dogs.

We recognize that not all dogs are comfortable playing with other dogs right off the bat during the evaluation. That’s okay! Your dog must be comfortable with other dogs approaching, sniffing, and politely soliciting play from them, even if they are not ready or interested in playing back.

If your dog does play with the other dogs – great! Our evaluator will assess your dog’s play style to make sure it is a good fit for the rest of our daycare dogs. Key things the evaluator watches for include:

  • reciprocal play: taking turns being the chaser vs. the chase-ee, wrestling on top vs. wrestling on bottom
  • backing off if another dog tells them they’ve had enough
  • not instigating play with dogs who are communicating that they’re not interested
  • appropriate levels of vocalization: no excessive barking at other dogs

Our evaluator will also assess your dog’s ability to respond to them in the presence of other dogs. Your dog needs to come to the evaluator when they are called. Some dogs do great when no other dogs are present but ignore the evaluator once they are playing with dogs. If your dog does not come when called at the dog park, they need more training before an Educational Daycare evaluation.

Relaxing After Play

If this all goes well, the last phase of the evaluation is seeing how your dog does in a crate in our kennel room. We proudly use a “crate and rotate” model of play here at Crossbones. Dogs alternate between crated rest time and active play time. A little bit of whining or barking at first is common and we will give your dog a chance to settle down. Frequent or excessively loud vocalization, pawing at or attempting to break out of the crate, or refusing to enter the crate for the evaluator are all reasons why a dog might not pass this element of the evaluation.

Wrapping Up

At the conclusion of the evaluation, we’ll invite you back into the building to discuss how the evaluation went, and if your dog is eligible to start right away, eligible for a trial week, needs to attend a certain minimum number of days per week, or did not pass the evaluation. High-energy dogs who tend to play vigorously with their friends need to attend daycare often more often than 2x or 3x/week, so our evaluator may make the decision that your dog needs to come more frequently than that for a period of time.

And there you have it! That’s what we pack into the Educational Daycare evaluation appointment. If you have questions, leave a comment below or contact us!

Flex Class Program Updates


Our instructor team has been hard at work over the past week making changes to our Flex Class program. Our goal is to teach classes that are fun, informative, and build your’s dog manners. We want you and your dog to leave each class with a smile on your faces and a clear idea of what you need to practice going forward.

Part of achieving that is making sure the difficulty level of each class reflects the listed prerequisites, if any. That way, more experienced teams are continuing to be challenged while new students are getting the foundation they need. Most of the changes we’re making are to advanced classes, but we’ve got other tweaks to announce, too.

These changes go into effect immediately for all new registrations. If you’ve already registered for one of these classes prior to today, we recommend, but do not require, that you switch into a class you are eligible for.

Core Manners & Elective Dog Training Classes

Polite in Public, one of our four Core Manners classes, will no longer include matwork as part of the curriculum. We already address matwork in Settle & Stay Put and Self-Control. This change gives us more time to work on loose leash walking and polite greetings. Those behaviors are high priority for a lot of you, so we think you’ll like this change!

Intro to Dog Tricks, an elective class, now has a prerequisite of four Core Manners classes. We want to make sure all of the dogs attending have learned some basic training skills. Additionally, their owners need to be comfortable teaching new behaviors with the clicker and food rewards before joining us there.

Advanced Manners Classes

We’re increasing the prerequisite classes for all of our Advanced Manners classes. CGC Prep now requires 2 of each Core Manners class (Come This Way, Settle & Stay Put, Self-Control, and Polite in Public).

Recall Mastery now requires 4 Come This Way classes, 4 Settle & Stay Put classes, and 4 Self-Control classes. The exercises in this class really depend on your dog having solid foundation skills. The dog behavior requirements have not changed. To take this class, your dog must also have self-control around food on the floor and in containers, a 10’+ stay (either sit or down), solid name recognition, accept collar grabs, and take multiple steps for a hand target.

Power Walking now requires 6 Polite in Public classes. Your dog’s loose leash walking in low- to moderate-distraction level environments needs to be pretty darn solid before you move up to this class. In Power Walking, we focus on reducing treats, crisper turns without getting tangled up, and walking in close proximity to other dogs and people.

A New Class!

We’re thrilled to announce a brand new Flex Class: Distraction Action! In this class, you’ll learn how to use your dog’s distractions to make their manners training even stronger. All distraction types welcome… people, other dogs, critters, toys, skateboards, smells – you name it, and we’ll help you work through it. This prerequisites for this class are the same as for CGC Prep: each Core Manners class (Polite in Public, Come This Way, Settle & Stay Put, Self-Control) taken twice.

We look forward to seeing you and your dog in a Flex Class soon! View the calendar to see what is offered when, and then head to the class roster to make a selection.

COVID-19 Flex Class Guidelines – Updated November 3rd, 2020


UPDATE NOVEMBER 3RD, 2020: Effective immediately, no guests are allowed at Flex Classes. The state of Rhode Island has limited social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, and we have been told by the RI Department of Business Regulation to follow that guideline for class size. Each registration is valid for one dog and one person. Guests will be turned away at the door. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding!

As of June 9th, 2020, we are allowed to resume indoor dog training classes in Rhode Island. A few weeks ago we published a blog post outlining class rules & procedures for outdoor classes. Now that the majority of classes are moving inside, here’s what you need to know.

Indoor classes: unless clearly marked on the class calendar, all classes will be taking place indoors, in our 80×45′ training hall. When agility classes resume later in June, Wednesday evening manners classes will be held outdoors. Those outdoor classes will be marked as such on the class calendar.

Click here to learn more about our Flex Class program!

Face masks must be worn and social distancing guidelines must be followed at all times. If you are not able to wear a face mask during class, please email us to discuss accommodations before registering for any classes. 

We have hand sanitizer available for all students, and the sinks in the bathrooms have soap and hot water for hand washing. We encourage you to sanitize before and after class.

You are now allowed to bring 1 guest with you to class. Your spouse, family member, or friend is welcome to join you. This limitation ensures we stay under the social gathering group size maximum, which is currently 15 people. Effective November 3rd, 2020, no guests may attend class with you. Please see the first paragraph of this blog post for details.

If you or your dog are not feeling well, you must stay home. Please email or call us as soon as you perceive symptoms so we may work to fill your spot with someone from the wait list. We will be slightly more flexible with excused absences during this time but you must let us know as soon as possible (prior to the start time of class). 

Just like we did before, we’ll be maintaining a wait list for classes that are full. Please e-mail us to get on the wait list for any class. 

If you need to purchase treats or other gear, our retail store is open for browsing. We do recommend placing an online order for pick-up if at all possible. That way, we can have your items ready for you when you arrive. If you realize you need something during class, we can still accommodate that, but it will interrupt your class experience.

Orientation classes will resume being held in-person. The last Remote Orientation will be held Wednesday, June 10th. Online registration for this class is now closed, but if you have a valid Flex Class Pass, contact us to enroll.

When signing up for classes, please review the list of equipment in the confirmation e-mail and be sure to bring it with you. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we cannot provide “loaner equipment” to students during classes. If you have forgotten a piece of equipment, you need to purchase it or sit out the exercise.

You will enter and exit class through the training hall door, not the main entrance. The instructor will prop this door open 5 minutes before class time. There is a 15 minute break between classes, but we need time to sanitize, so please do not try to enter the building before this time. If you are waiting outside of your car, please stay socially distant from other classmates as well as clients picking up their dogs from the Academy.

Puppy Playgroups will not resume just yet. We are working on a plan to be able to offer these while maintaining social distancing. Stay tuned!

COVID-19 Flex Class Guidelines – May 2020


NOTE: We have new guidelines effective June 10th! Please read the latest COVID-19 Flex Class Guidelines here.

Our Flex Class program is resuming Monday, May 18th. Some changes to the way we hold classes are necessary in order to follow the dog trainer regulations published by the Department of Business Regulation.

All classes must be held outdoors, weather permitting. If the forecast suggests a greater than 50% chance of heavy rain or lightning, we will cancel classes. We will still train in light rain, so please dress accordingly. Our instructors will make the decision to cancel weekday classes at approximately 3:30PM and weekend classes at approximately 7:30AM. Check your e-mail before departing for class. 

Each class is strictly limited to 4 dog & handler teams and the instructor.

No guests are allowed to accompany you in class. Spouses and family members may watch class from your vehicle, which may be parked facing the training space. Vehicles must be turned off – no idling.

Face masks must be worn and social distancing guidelines must be followed at all times. If you are not able to wear a face mask during class, please email us to discuss accommodations before registering for any classes. 

If you or your dog are not feeling well, you must stay home. Please email or call us as soon as you perceive symptoms so we may work to fill your spot with someone from the wait list. We will be slightly more flexible with excused absences during this time but you must let us know as soon as possible (prior to the start time of class). 

Because class space is extremely limited, only enroll in classes you are certain you can attend. We will shut off online registration for anyone making excessive cancellations or rescheduling. 

Just like we did before, we’ll be maintaining a wait list for classes that are full. Please e-mail us to be added to the wait list for any class.

If you need to purchase treats or other gear, please place an online order for pick-up if at all possible. That way, we can have your items ready for you when you arrive. If you realize you need something during class, we can still accommodate that, but it will interrupt your class experience.

Please be sure to pack water and a bowl for your dog, and bring extra-high value treats that your dog is crazy about!

Current Flex Class Pass Holders

All Flex Class Passes with an expiration date after March 22nd were extended by 12 weeks. There will be no further extensions of Flex Class Passes. If you believe we made an error and your class pass was not extended, please e-mail us and we will look into it.

If your dog’s vaccinations have been updated since March 1st, or if you had a veterinarian appointment to update vaccinations which had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, please contact us to make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date before enrolling in class.

New Students

We are accepting new students, but they may not begin class until on or after June 1st.

The next Orientation class for new clients will be Monday, June 1st. Orientation classes will be held approximately once per week thereafter. You still must attend an Orientation class before attending any classes with your dog.

Puppy Day School Students

If you have not attended an Orientation before, we are offering a remote Zoom Orientation one just for current and previous PDS students on Saturday, May 23rd at 11AM. This will not be recorded, and you must attend live. Once you attend this Orientation, you can enroll in future classes.

If you cannot attend this Orientation, the next one will be available on Monday 6/1, and weekly thereafter on different days of the week. 

All currently enrolled PDS students will get an additional 2 weeks to attend Flex Classes if their dog’s attendance ends in May or June.

All previously enrolled PDS students who had Flex Class availability interrupted by COVID-19 have received a “COVID-19 Make Up Pass” that expires July 1st.