Expert Service Dog Training for Life-Changing Results

Attention, Please! Service Dog Workshop January 27 & 28, Northborough, MA


If you find your service-dog-in-training (SDiT) doesn’t listen to you in public, on walks, or around strangers or other dogs, you are not alone! Fortunately, help is here. Our upcoming workshop will help you and your dog succeed. (Not able to make it to this one? Check with us about future service dog training classes near you.)

Small white Chihuahua mix with black "service dog in training" vest lies on tile floor looking up at the person holding her leash (not pictured).
Little dogs can have big focus!

Engagement and focus around distraction is key to success with public access training.

Training a service dog to focus around distractions is often the hardest part in the training process. But it is not out-of-reach. When your dog is engaged and focused around distractions, it can…

  • Follow known basic manners cues (sit, down, touch, come, heel, watch) in a new or busy environment
  • Offer default attention! (Check in on you on their own without being asked)
  • Ignore friendly strangers or business owners with access challenges
  • Ignore other dogs
  • Respond to tasking cues (whether given intentionally or by your symptoms or the environment)
  • Walk by your side on a loose leash
  • Relax and rest
Our upcoming workshop covers the many components of training success around distractions. By the end, you’ll have a map for how to achieve the best results with an owner-trained service dog.

Often, it surprises us when our dog becomes completely distracted. We may feel frustrated and overwhelmed as we try to navigate both the situation and our dog’s behavior. The “Attention, Please!” workshop will give you the tools to prepare your dog to sail more smoothly through the choppy waters of distracting situations and difficult environments. Helping you on your journey to the safe harbor of a fully trained service dog. (Register to attend and observe (Audit). Register to work your dog. FULL, Register to Audit and also be added to a waitlist for a Working Team spot)

Back of a person with black yoga pants and gray hoodie walking yellow Labrador retriever in a purple service dog vest between aisles of metal shelves and building supplies.
Zoe trains Romy to focus in the distracting environment of Home Depot.

Are you ready to learn the secrets to training your service dog to focus around distractions? Register for the workshop!

“Attention Please” Workshop Details


Sharon Wachsler is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, and owner of At Your Service Dog Training in Hadley, MA. With a background as a disability information and referral specialist, and the founding editor of a disability literary journal, Sharon became passionately involved in service dog training after training her first service dog in 1998. Sharon and her staff offer a full range of online owner-training service dog services, including private lessons and group classes on manners, public access, and task training and pre-adoption consulting and assessment to help clients find the right candidate dog. Sharon also offers private training in and around Hadley and occasionally in other areas of the state. Sharon also offers mentoring and consulting to professional and aspiring dog trainers. A dynamic, funny, and experienced public speaker, Sharon is a frequent presenter on service dogs and service dog training to trainers, owners, and businesses.

Woman with long dark pony tail stops at a curb with a yellow Lab who is looking up at her.
Sharon Wachsler trains Frieda, a guide and mobility service dog for a handler with a brain injury.


Attendees and working teams will gain valuable insights and tools to improve their dog’s training in intense environments. We’ll cover:

  • Why is your dog behaving this way? Is there something you’re doing that could affect your dog’s distraction level, positively or negatively?
  • Management tricks: How to prevent your dog from jumping, barking, or being out-of-control around distractions in the first place
  • Handler mechanics: leash skills, body position, treat delivery, marker timing, and the best gear for the task
  • How identifying the emotional undertone of your dog’s distraction can help you choose the correct training approach
  • How to anticipate when your dog may get distracted to prevent it and build focus before it occurs
  • Focus training games and exercises
  • How to shape attention during overwhelm (how to train when your dog can’t even hear you say its name!)
  • Training focus around strangers and dog distractions
  • Assessing your dog’s next steps in public access – what is right for you and your dog?


Saturday, January 27, 2024 – 1 PM – 6 PM (includes short breaks)

Sunday, January 28, 2024 – 10 AM – 5 PM (includes one-hour lunch break)

SNOW DATE: Feb. 3 & 4


Northborough Historical Society, 52 Main St, Northborough, MA 01532

Registration, Pricing & Scholarships

Early-Bird Pricing

  • Early bird registration open to the general public: Dec. 15, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024
  • Audit $155*
  • Working slot: $300* FULL
  • *Scholarships and discounts are available to low-income disabled individuals/families. For information, please contact In your email, please indicate if you are on SSI, SSDI, or VA benefits.

Regular Pricing

  • Jan 8 – Jan 26 (or until all tickets are sold)
  • Audit: $175
  • Working: FULL


A white and brown short-coated mixed-breed dog wearing a black "service dog" vest lies at a takeout food counter at the feet of her handler.
Service dog Lula is relaxed and engaged. A service dog doesn’t have to be staring at its owner to be focused around distraction. The workshop will cover components of relaxed engagement.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is there a Snow Date?

Yes. If the weather is forecast to be very bad (dangerous driving), the snow date is the following weekend, Feb. 3-4.

Is the space wheelchair accessible? What about other disability accommodations?

The space is wheelchair accessible and has an accessible bathroom. Please get in touch as soon as possible to ask about any other accommodations. Email Laurie at to request accommodations.

Who should attend this workshop?

  • People with disabilities or their family members who are currently training their own service dog
  • People who are considering or planning to train their own service dog
  • Professional dog trainers who want to learn about working with service-dog owner-trainers
  • Interested members of the public, including those who work with disabled people, dog lovers, or business owners who want to learn more about what’s involved with training service dogs to succeed in public access environments

Will CEUs be available for dog trainers?

Yes. We are still finalizing all CEU information, but here is what we have so far:

  • Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) – 12 CEUs for trainers (6 knowledge and 6 skills)
  • Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) – Working Teams will earn 12.5 CEUs. The number of CEUs for auditors is still being determined.
  • IAABC – To be determined.
  • If you have other CEU questions, please email

Who is eligible for a Working Slot?

NOTE: Working slots are already full. However, we strongly encourage you to register for the workshop as an auditor. See below for details or register HERE. If you want to be notified early of future workshops, please click HERE to join our newsletter email list. Working teams are owner-trainer-handlers with disabilities or their family who are training a service dog. The dog may either be in-training or may be already working but need additional training or retraining. Working teams may bring one additional person to help them (family, friend, PCA, etc.) without additional charge. Dogs and handlers must both be able to function in the environment with minimal additional support. Handlers should already have basic positive-reinforcement-only marker-based training skills. Dogs should like and be comfortable around strangers and be able to function in a large room that includes other dogs. Dogs should be moderately reliable in performing basic skills (respond to name, Sit, nose target, and heel) in mildly distracting environments. *We are taking two auditor registrations that can be added to a waitlist for a Working Team slot, but it is very unlikely these Working Team slots will open up. If interested in joining the waitlist Register Here.

What will I get out of auditing?

The workshop is a combination of presentation (PowerPoint) and coaching of working teams. As an auditor, you’ll have the advantage of being able to relax and fully absorb presented material without the distraction of training your own dog. You’ll also have opportunity to participate in training exercises with other attendees, and to be specific types of distractions for working teams. You will also receive tips and pointers to deepen your understanding in watching the working teams during coached exercises. You’ll also enjoy the camaraderie of a weekend with the rewards-based service dog training community. There is really no downside! Register to attend as an auditor.

I’m training an ESA (emotional support animal), pet, or therapy dog. Should I attend?

Yes, definitely register to audit. The skills and tips that apply to training service dogs around distraction also apply to these other types of dog training situations. You will be able to bring these skills home to use with your dog.

Register HERE for ATTENTION PLEASE WORKSHOP an auditing (non-working) slot

Register for ATTENTION PLEASE WORKSHOP working slot (dog and handler) FULL


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