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To OB school or not?

October 4th, 2006, 08:36 PM
Hi! I am trying to figure out if I should take Sydney to obedience school. She is 4 months old. First thought, of course you should go! The only 2 options I can find are PetSmart (which I have not heard positive things about the one here, I am sure there are good and bad) and a place that trains guard dogs for security work. She is doing really well, I think, she has the basics: sit, stand, down (most of the time) will stay for a short period, come, drop it, leave it, roll over, and jump through the hoop. She is doing better with leash walking, only pulls occasionally. We go to the park for about 1 hour a day, and she gets to meet lots of people and other dogs. She does great with other dogs, and is learning not to jump on people. She is house broken, and crate trained. I realize that we have not gone through the teenager stage, but I don't think that school would prevent that. I don't really have any experience in training, but have read a lot about it. I don't need a guard dog, just a well behaved pet, and from what I have heard, the PetSmart classes here aren't worth the time. Would it be bad to not take her to school? :shrug:

October 4th, 2006, 08:41 PM
I took a horrific round of puppy classes at petsmart.. mainly because the class was over full.. But went back and took basic OB there when Cider was 6 months old. It was nice to just have the 'class' environment..

I did advanced at a 'better' school along with agility, but it wasn't bad to go to petsmart just for the experience for myself at least.

October 4th, 2006, 08:54 PM
I brought one of my dogs to obedience school, it was alright, but he needed ALOT of work to behave better.
With my other one, she has never been to actual obedience school but she is way more behaved and obedient than Meik.
I think alot of it has to do with your techniques and how much socializing you are going to do.
Obedience school is a good idea for any dog. I am almost tempted to bring my Kita gurl to school to see how good she actually is.:o

October 4th, 2006, 09:41 PM
I can't imagine not going to OB classes! It's so sad that you have such limited choices!
I don't have a high opinion of petsmart training BUT as a puppy, I very much doubt that Dodger would have been obedient in such a busy-dog-store setting - it would have been very challenging! The only reason why I like OB classes is because it makes everything very distracting - so if Petsmart were my only opition I'd probably enroll. You just have to "put your foot down" if you disagree with the trainer's method or know that what they are suggesting isn't right!

October 5th, 2006, 12:13 AM
I've never used petsmart, but I once saw a trainer in there with a dog and I was completely unimpressed. I dunno what kind of training she was trying to do, but all she was doing was dragging the dog around by his leash and saying his name repeatedly. We watched for about 10 minutes and that's all she did, never succeeding to get the dogs attention, lol. Maybe I just didn't know the situation but it kind of killed my urge to try petsmart training. I'm sure some of the trainers there are effective, but I don't think they really screen them, so from what I hear it depends on who's there.

I don't think it's completely necessary to take her to classes, but you'd both probably benefit from it (if the trainer knew anything). At the moment it sounds like you're doing really good on your own.

Have you tried calling the place that trains security dogs? They may at least have some connections with people that do normal training. Many trainers don't advertise and it's just word of mouth, so the only way to find them is through other trainers or dog owners.

October 5th, 2006, 08:07 AM
I realize that we have not gone through the teenager stage, but I don't think that school would prevent that.

lol! nothing will prevent that teenager stage! it's something you gotta power through.

I took my dog to OB, so I'm all for it - BUT, I was lucky to have a private run school nearby. I think OB is helpful for a well behaved pet, but I also think you can do it on your own. Have you considered finding some recommended DVD's? You get the guidance of an experienced trainer, but in the comfort of your own home.

I think the socialization aspect is a VERY important part of OB school, but if you choose to train at home, you can always try to arrange puppy play dates w/ friends/family/neighbors, or visit a dog park (if one is in your area) for social time.

October 5th, 2006, 07:25 PM
lol! nothing will prevent that teenager stage! it's something you gotta power through.

I remember my mom saying "Just wait till you have kids of your own!" So I figure I am in for it!

The park that I go to has a lot of dogs, and they play a little bit together. They are in the process of putting in an actual fenced in dog park area. I have e-mailed the group that is funding the building of it to see if they know of any "unlisted" trainers that are good. If that doesn't work out, I am going to order Tenderfoots videos for guidance.

Angies Man
October 5th, 2006, 11:50 PM
Check with your local parks and recreation. Years ago, my Great Dane and I attended community ed. obedience classes. Was lots of fun and we learned a lot.

I'm training my Angie myself, the basic obedience stuff. I've been through the classes a couple of times, so I feel confident in doing it myself. And I have a very cooperative, compliant dog.

I guess I'd suggest looking for a trainer in surrounding towns. Find out if there's agility training anywhere around. Getting in touch with the agility people should lead to some decent obedience trainers.

If all else fails, do it yourself, get the DVD or videotaped training programs that're available. Use as gentle a hand as possible and keep it fun for you and the dog. (Don't allow yourself or the dog to get frustrated.)

Obedience training is really important, imho, to your dog's socialization, health, and safety. Not something that's optional, I think.

October 6th, 2006, 07:20 AM
Stay away from Petsmart. What kind of dog do you have?

October 6th, 2006, 11:10 AM
My dog had training at Petsmart - 4 private lessons followed by a group class. Jump forward 2 years - he just had 5 private sessions with a trainer that comes to your house - NOT TREAT BASED! - and he was better after the one session with her than after all of the Petsmart classes. Cost wise, the 5 private home lessons cost the same as the Petsmart. Really would suggest if you can fine someone - non treat based training - of course depends a lot on how food motivated your dog is and whether he/she will obey you only for the treat - well my Eskimo falls into that category.

October 6th, 2006, 05:39 PM
Really would suggest if you can fine someone - non treat based training - of course depends a lot on how food motivated your dog is and whether he/she will obey you only for the treat - well my Eskimo falls into that category.

I can understand you not wanting to support treat-based training but I am uncomfortable with the thought of what you are replacing it with... I hope its still positive reinforcement and not aversive.

whether he/she will obey you only for the treat

For all the lurkers, this is NOT how treat training works. If your dog is "only" obeying the treat in your hand, you have done something wrong!! Not to mention, it doesn't just have to be a treat - anything that motivates your dog will do!
The problem with aversive training methods is that while you may be manging the behaviour, you are not training. For your dog to learn, they need to be redirected and understand what you from them (not what you do NOT want!).

October 6th, 2006, 07:36 PM
Why is obedience school soooo important???? If your dog is responding well to YOUR training techniques and everything is going smoothly, stick with it.
As far as socialization, it is VERY important. Im sure you know other people with dogs, let them play ( supervised of course)

Do you plan on competing in obedience trials?? if not, just educate yourself the best you can, and work with what you have.

And as far as the Petsmart training classes... I wouldnt go near that either, I went there last weekend to buy a collar for my Kita and the class was wandering around the store while the "pet parents" were pretending to shop. Not a bad socialization technique, BUT.. I dont think the "pet parents" were taught how to properly handle thier dogs in public. The dogs were on long leads and cutting shoppers off.
It was kinda annoying to say the least.

October 6th, 2006, 09:45 PM
I would like to go to obedience class, just because I never have, and I think I could probably learn a lot from a good one. My last dog, was incredibly easy to train. Sydney is proving to be more of a challenge, I thought professional tips might help. She is getting it, but it is a battle of the wills.

The dog park that they are building seems to be agility oriented, so I am still hoping for some leads there.

I do use positive training, and "treats" including going outside, "fetch" time and tons of praise. Some commands she will not do with out a "treat" visible, others, she will do just because I say to.

As for what kind of dog she is, I get asked that a lot. Mom appeared to be mostly black lab, but was too tall and narrow chested for a lab, we are guessing that dad might have been a GSD/Husky mix. I will try to post a pic on the post a picture thread.

October 7th, 2006, 12:20 AM
Why is obedience school soooo important???? If your dog is responding well to YOUR training techniques and everything is going smoothly, stick with it.
And as far as the Petsmart training classes... I wouldnt go near that either

IMO, OB school is very important, not just for the socialization but learning to learn and focus around big distractions. Many people find that their dog is perfect at home but put them in a stimulating environment and nothing goes smoothly anymore!
I agree that you are less likely to find a fabulously knowledgeable trainer but if you are prepared to go to Petsmart with your own training agenda/goals, I think it would be an excellent experience. An example: If the class is working on basic commands like sit/down/stand and your dog already knows this, make it more difficult by doing them from a distance with hand signals or voice-command only; add distance and have your dog move from these static positions in any order! Petsmart is certainly not ideal but like I said before, I very much doubt that Dodger could have done OB as a puppy in such a situation so it does have its benefits.

Some commands she will not do with out a "treat" visible, others, she will do just because I say to.

This means that you've either used treats for too long after your dog understood the command and/or showed her the treat before giving her a command. You need to reward inconsistently so your dog never knows when they will earn the treat (this is what keeps the behaviour reccuring) and to fade the reward entirely once the behaviour has become reliable. Ideally, your dog should never know when you are carrying treats and when you aren' - the treat is the bonus, not a given!

Another idea might be to contact a few good trainers that are reasonably close by (within an hour or two)... Most trainers are more than willing to offer tips and perhaps it would be possible to arrange a private lesson every couple of months or something! If you can find trainer's nearby that hold trials, it would be an excellent place to scout out knowledgeable dog owners and possibly hear of some trainers by word of mouth. A few normal dog owners/competitors in my area have gone to so many seminars that they have a group of less experienced handlers who use them as "trainers"!

I can't wait to see pics!:D

October 7th, 2006, 10:36 AM
This means that you've either used treats for too long after your dog understood the command and/or showed her the treat before giving her a command.

I used the treats every time when she is learning what the commands mean, once she gets the hang of it, I go random with them. Some of them, she still needs the assistance of a "lure" to get her in position. We do work on commands when we are at the park with distractions, and I use voice and/or. hand signals. All that being said, I am trying to find an actual class to send her to. I am going tomorrow as a volunteer (with altereior motives) to help build the dog park.

I can't wait to see pics!

They are on the post a pic thread.

Angies Man
October 7th, 2006, 11:27 AM
Going to help build a dog park? What a great place to ask around for contacts regarding a Obedience class!!!

October 8th, 2006, 07:27 AM
Sounds as if your dog has the basics. All the important things like not dislocating your shoulders when you walk seem to be covered.
Basic commands like sit and down. What more do you really need if you are not too interested in showing. I would just continue to socialize at the park. You can always back up a step if your dog seems to forget it's earlier training.

October 9th, 2006, 08:02 AM
I haven't brought my new pup Guinness yet to class, but have been planning on it as he seems to have selective hearing, esp when I call him to come. Sometimes he seems like he might be deaf! In the past, I took a class at Petsmart with my previous dog (Sydney) and actually really liked it. Sounds like many have had bad experiences there, but it probably depends on the trainer. Ours was actually really good and both my dog and I learned a lot. If you are still considering Petsmart, just go to the store and observe the class and trainer - maybe you will like what you see, maybe not. My opinion of those classes is that is more for the owner than the dog, so if you already know how to teach your dog, perhaps no classes are needed, unless you have something specific the dog is having issues with (or you want to get into agility). What I didn't like was that if we missed a class, there was no make-up class to attend. For that, it seems better to have a personal trainer come to the house, as then you can schedule the class and not miss any.

October 9th, 2006, 08:47 AM
I believe OB school should be manditory.....It is a great place for you and your dog to learn pack manners. School is not to teach the dog, it is to teach you how to teach the dog. Harley has been through puppy, OB 1, OB 2...I am thinking about continuing becaues he has so much fun in class. He shows off. LOL
If nothing else, it is socialization, manners, and bonding, 3 great reasons to do it

October 18th, 2006, 10:43 AM
:sorry: and many of you many not agree but I feel that ALL dogs should be taken to obedience school. Not only is it a learning experience for the dog but mainly a learning experience for the owner. I also think that the training should start as soon as the puppy is protected by innoculations. I presently train at a facility that is located 1 hour & 45 minutes from my home. Yes, that's over 3 hours of driving every Wednesday evening but I feel well worth it. I didn't like the training methods of the school in my home town so I travel. My 14 month old Golden boy can't wait for Wednesdays - if a class is ever cancelled, I deal with his disappointment as he keeps going to the door saying "Let's go, let's IS Wednesday!" Not only does Oliver enjoy his classes but I do too. I have met some wonderful classmates, we've shared training tips as well as many discussions about behaviour, feeding, shampoos, trial judges, etc, etc, etc.:grouphug:

I've also heard some very negative comments about PetSmart classes. Well, my daughter, who has a 2 year old Golden girl, lives in London, Ontario & has had excellent success with her classes at PetSmart. I guess that it depends upon the outlet.:dog:

So, Oliver & I are off to classes tonight.......

How do I measure our success - in the ring, out in public and by the many, many, many comments from others about how well behaved my two four-legged kids are!:dog:

October 20th, 2006, 07:36 PM
It definitely depends on the Petsmart trainer. We have several Petsmarts here and several community and private training options as well. I've done several and all were clicker training and/or treat-based training and my favorite trainer and now my only trainer ended up being one of the Petsmart trainers!
Whatever you do, check the trainer out first. I blindly tried one Petsmart store first and after two classes, walked away as it was completely disorganized. I then tried a Community was ok, but he didn't really learn anything and they didn't focus on teaching the owners like I really wanted to learn. Tried another Petsmart, found Gail, and after one intermediate class and one advanced class, Petey got his Good Citizen test! This summer I tried one private training company and two private in-home trainers just for fun since he loves his classes so much and I wanted to keep working on a more reliable off-leash come, but hated them. So now we're going back to Gail at Petsmart for another advanced, "just for fun and socialization" class. We start tomorrow. :D
He doesn't necessarily need more training, but I am a huge proponent of OB classes. We do one every 6 months or so, just for the fun of it and for the refresher training. Petey LOVES them. He knows exactly where we are going when I take a certain exit and prances excitedly to the ring and to Gail every time. When we stop by on non-class days, he is so disappointed when he doesn't get to go in the ring, his tail droops as we leave the store. He was scared of the in-home trainers even though I was there the entire time and watched them closely. There was nothing wrong about their methods or body language, so I don't know what it was or why that was, but it just goes to show that it really does come down to every individual trainer! So check them out, ask for referrals from co-workers or dog park friends, etc. But definitely give them a try!


October 20th, 2006, 09:35 PM
The rule of thumb is: a well trained dog is a pleasure to be around.

That statement couldn't be closer to the truth!

I do highly recommend Tenderfoot's training video, not because I've used it myself, but because TF's techniques have garnered nothing but praise, from what I've heard.

If you cannot take your dog to formal training, then do what you can at home. Do remember that socialization is VERY important, and can give you a wonderful dog. Lack of socialization can make a dog skittish around other dogs, but that doesn't sound like a problem so far.

Do keep in mind the "fear" stages your dog has, and will, go through.

Usually, fear stages take place around 3-4 months and again around 6-7 months. Be careful to not let your dog be attacked by another dog, or scared a great deal, when you start to notice the onset of the fear stage. You'll notice it by your dog becoming a little more skittish than usual. Just show your dog that you're in command and there's nothing to fear and you'll do just fine (IMO).

I hope I've helped a wee bit in the process. Keep us posted on Pup's progress.