Canine Circus School on KPIX CBS News, Bay Area


Check  out Canine Circus School on CBS News Bay Area.


“We just got the idea of calling it canine circus school because something like the circus, it’s sort of an open platform,” explained Metcalf.

“It includes many archetypes. You could have the strong man. The lithe acrobat, the clown, the happy clown, the sad clown. So all these archetypes can fit in and we wanted to be a place where freaks and geeks were comfortable.”


We have new classes starting in April.  Sign up here.

                            Freaks and Geeks welcome!

A Heartfelt Thanks from Canine Circus School, Oakland, CA, Earth, Year 2017.

A great Big Howdy and Happy New Year to all! It’s been raining buckets of glorious rain thus far, which is bringing much needed relief to our nagging drought and giving us a longer break than usual at Canine Circus School. As January slowly shifts into full swing, we’re busy gearing up for the Winter Session to begin on February 1st. In the midst of all of our cleaning and prepping, we’ve run across props and mementos from classes of yore, such as cherished thank you cards and olde photographs of Canine Circus Schoolers.

We’re so grateful for all of our two and four-legged students who have joined us in the training ring over the past 5 years. This blog post is a simple one, albeit a very heartfelt one to say thank you to all of our Canine Circus School students. It’s such a joy, privilege and pleasure to work with you. THANK YOU for  all the wonderful years, and cheers to many more!


2017 rings in our 6th year at Canine Circus School, and we are supremely thankful for being able to do what we love, in the best place on earth, with the coolest humans and hounds in the universe.   Thank you!

We look forward to welcoming new students and seeing more of our awesome alums in 2017. We hope you can join us for  Winter Session starting in February. Our training levels have grown–we have Circus 1, 2, 3, and 4! We still have spaces available, so please be in touch soon.

Last but not least, we are excited to finally share this fun post by the wildly talented Team Willow (as they are known at Canine Circus School). Bill & Nat are the dynamic duo behind  The Labs & Co.  The Labs & Co. specialize in dog photography, graphic design and branding. Read their post below about circus class from the photographers point of view and check out more of their beautiful work and website here. Enjoy!

A Day at the Circus

Posted on May 2, 2016

A Day at the Circus

During a recent commercial photoshoot for Earth Rated (our new client, yay!), we were faced with the need to photograph dogs in a more studio oriented setting; simple, but engaging portraits in front of a color background. This is something we have done many times before, but for this project, we wanted to try something a little different, and we were lucky to find the perfect partners in mischief in our friends Francis and Norma, the brilliant minds behind theCanine Circus School.


We have been attending Canine Circus School with Willow for over a year now. ©The Labs & Co.

They say challenges help you step outside your comfort zone; and if we pulled this off, it would not only be a great exercise in flow, but also in pairing minimal equipment with a fun and fast paced process. Not to mention, render some great images for our client, as well as some great portraits for our classmates.
We have been students at Canine Circus School for over a year and having worked with Francis and Norma before, photographing them and writing an article on Canine Circus School for Bark Magazine, we were thrilled when they were game to collaborate again.


Schwartz holds the upper hand 🙂 ©The Labs & Co.

We talked to Francis about what we needed for our project, and it was him who suggested working in a portrait as part of our regular Circus 2 class. The flow and fast pace of the exercise, worked in with our other circus drills during class, would allow the dogs to get comfortable with a new exercise and the idea of an outdoor photo studio.


Clyde Barker, personality present in every strand of wirehair. ©The Labs & Co.

We set up the studio just outside the circus ring, in full shade, setting two color backdrops, one blue and one green with a platform box for the dogs to hop on. One by one, each dog and person team would work through their exercises:
From their platform box, around a group of cones, on to a “wardrobe platform box” where Norma would deck them out first with an Earth Rated bandana and later with a colorful circus collar. They would then hop on to the photo platform box, where Bill would take their portrait as they sat holding a stay, or did a trick of their choice.


Colin, aka “The General” looking elegant and goofy simultaneously. ©The Labs & Co.

This first couple of rounds to get our Earth Rated images were a blast, and once that was in the bag, we dedicated the last round to getting a portrait of each of our classmates, wearing their circus collars and using our beloved monster, our old Hasselblad; a medium format film camera.


Roxi and her incomparable smile. ©The Labs & Co.

Here was the fun part of the challenge, our Hassi is not known for speed, especially when focusing it manually. Pair that with a faster paced flow between quick-moving models and you’ve got yourself a workout! The fast pace and continuous flow, credit to Francis, made for more engaging portraits, loosening up the models and helping them practice important skills built during the course of class, allowing for creativity to take charge, laughter to ensue and some great expressions to be captured.


Max, maximum ham! ©The Labs & Co.

I think we all had fun, and the resulting portraits have been some of my favorite “studio” shots we have ever done. It goes to show, you can sneak in passion projects anywhere, learning that often, the best part of collaborating with someone is that that special something theybring makes the results far beyond what you had hoped to achieve; and that you can do a lot with very little gear. Not one studio light was used for these portraits.


Lucy, aka the adorable “Mantis”, looking like a Vogue high fashion model. ©The Labs & Co.

Thank you to our dear friends Francis and Norma, for letting us sneak this photo booth into a class; thank you to all our wonderful classmates (human and canine) for giving it all your wonderful energy, and thank you to our client Earth Rated, the catalyst for this fun project in the first place 🙂


Chong, a little guy, with a lot of seriously cute. ©The Labs & Co.

To learn more about Canine Circus School, make sure and check out the article I wrote on Bark, visit the Canine Circus School  website and social channels and hope to see you around in class!

Norma got some great behind-the-scenes shots to share on their Instagram, check those outhere.

To learn more about us or find out about working together, get in touch and let’s chat!


Isha waves bye for now! ©The Labs & Co.

We love it when you share our work, please be kind and give credit. 


October 2014 Class Schedule

walk among us fall classes circus school

Canine Circus School: October – November 2014 

 Class Schedule (scroll down for list of classes)

-All Classes meet for 6-weeks of fun, held beneath the East Bay sun in Oakland (on the border of Emeryville). Where do I begin? At Canine Circus School, all new students begin with Introduction to Circus 1. No prior dog training experience needed to take our Introductory Circus Class.

Call us if you have any questions. 415 779 6550 or email 

Please visit our pretty policy page to see age requirements, vaccination and refund information.

Price and payment options: You will find prices for classes listed under each class description. To reserve your class, you have the option to pay online or to mail a check. If paying by check address to, Friends of the Family Dog Training, and mail to 1005 53rd Street, Oakland, CA 94609.

~Scroll down for list of Classes~



rolf and daisy circus 1


Our  Circus 1 Class is where all new students begin their training at Canine Circus School. (You’ve never been in a training class? No problem.) In this class we teach you many of the obedience and trick drills that we do in our more advanced classes in easy steps that anyone can follow. A big part of Circus 1 is getting your dog used to working around other dogs. To do this we start spaced at a distance, over the course of the six weeks we get closer and closer until the dogs are maintaining complete focus on their handlers but working in close proximity to other dogs.

Circus Class is much more than just trick training, Circus 1 is about becoming an excellent handler and teacher. We cover more real world scenarios than any obedience class. We build confidence to perform in challenging environments and set a great foundation that does not conflict with, but only enhances, other training disciplines.

  Circus 1 Class:

  • Tuesday evening class, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM, starts Sept. 30, meets weekly through Nov. 4;
  • Thursday afternoon class, 12:30 PM– 1:30 PM, starts Oct. 2, meets weekly through Nov. 6;
  • Thursday evening class, 5:30 PM- 6:30 PM, starts Oct. 2, meets weekly through Nov. 5;
  • Sunday afternoon class, 2 PM – 3 PM, starts Oct. 5, meets weekly through Nov. 9.

*New Students fill out this form to sign up.

Returning students email us which class to hold or call 415-779-6550.

Circus 1 Small Dog Class (this class is for Small Dogs ONLY, up to 25 lbs.)

  • Sunday morning class, 11 AM − 12 PM, starts October 5, meets weekly through November 9.

*The classes above are for both first time students and returning Circus 1 students to Canine Circus School. The class costs $260 for new students and $195 for returning students, 6-week course.

New Students fill out this form to sign up.

Returning Students email us which class to hold or call us 415-779-6550

Prepay to reserve your spot



Circus 1.5 Class:

In the Circus 1.5 Class our drills get faster and more complicated. The dog works with more independence from the handler and with more control.

  • Thursday morning class, 11 AM- 12 PM, starts October 2, meets weekly through November 6;
  • Sunday afternoon class, 4 PM – 5 PM, starts October 5, meets weekly through November 9.

Circus 1.5 Small Dog Class (this class is for Small Dogs ONLY, up to 25 lbs.)

  • Sunday class, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM, starts October 5, meets weekly through November 9.

This class is for students who have completed Circus 1 and students who are returning to the 1.5 Ring; $260, 6-week course for new students; $195 for returning students.

email us which class time to hold and prepay to reserve your spot in class.

~Scroll down for Circus 2 Classes~



email us and prepay to reserve your spot in class.



Circus 2 Class:

Circus 2 students must be approved by Instructor. Circus 2 Class is our advanced class. We begin to get our drills and team work to be performance ready. Dogs work in close proximity on advanced tricks.

  • Tuesday morning class, 11 AM-12 PM, starts Sept. 30, meets weekly through Nov. 4;
  • Sunday evening class, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM, starts Oct. 5, meets weekly through Nov. 9.

*This class is for both returning and new students. Returning Circus 2 students pay $195; New students pay $260; 6-week course.


email us which class time to hold, and prepay to reserve your spot.

Please call 415-779-6550, if you have any questions!

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francis and clyde bow canine circus school


A Breed Apart: Canine Circus School at SF Exploratorium

Stay tuned folks, we’ll post the NEW October – November 2014 Class Schedule later today.  If you’d like us to send you an e-mail to your in-box announcing the Class Calendar, just fill out this quick form and you’ll be the first to know!

You can catch us the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Market Days: A Breed Apart Event from 11 − 3 PM today, Saturday, August 16, 2014.  We’ll be giving a Canine Circus School demonstration at 2 PM.  Come on down, bring your hound, and say howdy!IMG_5325

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