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Puppy classes in Calgary - Recommendations?

alanap
September 20th, 2010, 02:59 PM
Hi there,

I am adopting a rescue puppy next month and I have started looking in to different puppy classes. Does anyone have any recommendations in the Calgary area? I am trying to find something that isn't treat based - my last dogs were treat trained and in our experience they were less reliable because of it - if they knew we didn't have a treat they tended to only respond if they felt like it.

Thanks!

we3beagles
September 20th, 2010, 09:26 PM
If your last trainer didn't teach you how to wean off treats or "rewards" then they did you an injustice. It's not the method that was flawed, but the trainer. Sorry, I don't have any recommendations for punishment trainers, but if you change your mind let me know. I have a few recommendations for positive trainers.

alanap
September 21st, 2010, 08:42 AM
I never said I was looking for a punishment trainer, actually. All I said is that I didn't want to use treats. Anyone have any helpful suggestions?

cassiek
September 21st, 2010, 06:53 PM
I never said I was looking for a punishment trainer, actually. All I said is that I didn't want to use treats. Anyone have any helpful suggestions?

we3beagles, I don't think the OP was looking for a "punishment trainer"... at least I hope not! :eek:

alanap, I believe the Calgary Humane Society offers dog classes? I am not sure if they use treats though... regardless, I would call several places and just ask if you can use praise or a toy instead of treats for a reward. I also am not a huge fan of treat-training (although it works very, very well for some dogs). My dogs never seem to be very food-motivated. I took some obedience classes with Brynn last year and asked the trainer if I could use her favorite toy or praise instead of treats, and she had no problem with it. I would just call and ask to talk to the trainer and see if they would mind... I doubt they would.

Good luck! :)

alanap
September 22nd, 2010, 01:49 PM
Awesome, thanks for your help! I will definitely start calling around and asking the questions.

Longblades
September 22nd, 2010, 04:09 PM
I'm a fan of clicker training for the basics you'd encounter in puppy classes. Most clicker trainers do use treats but the reward can really be whatever works best for your pup. In one of my classes two owners had dogs who did not respond to treats nearly as well as they did to a play with a tug toy for the one and a belly rub for the other. I have to say, the treat dogs advanced more quickly. Imagine having to give a belly rub every time your dog does what you want, s l l o o o w w w w. The reward could be praise as well, whatever works. You do wean off the reward.

Like anything in life you may find trainers who do not know how to use clickers properly. I've been lucky but amazed at what friends have told me. I suggest you google Karen Pryor and clicker training basics so you know enough about it, if you go that way, to be sure you are getting good lessons.

I like Cassiek's point that your trainer should be knowledgable enough and flexible enough to work different methods for different dogs and owners.

cassiek
September 22nd, 2010, 09:17 PM
I'm a fan of clicker training for the basics you'd encounter in puppy classes. Most clicker trainers do use treats but the reward can really be whatever works best for your pup. In one of my classes two owners had dogs who did not respond to treats nearly as well as they did to a play with a tug toy for the one and a belly rub for the other. I have to say, the treat dogs advanced more quickly. Imagine having to give a belly rub every time your dog does what you want, s l l o o o w w w w. The reward could be praise as well, whatever works. You do wean off the reward.

Like anything in life you may find trainers who do not know how to use clickers properly. I've been lucky but amazed at what friends have told me. I suggest you google Karen Pryor and clicker training basics so you know enough about it, if you go that way, to be sure you are getting good lessons.

I like Cassiek's point that your trainer should be knowledgable enough and flexible enough to work different methods for different dogs and owners.

That's a good point Longblades... I do also think that dogs who are trained with treats tend to learn more quickly. alanap, if your dogs are food motivated I believe a good trainer will show you how to initially start with treats and then gradually wean off of them until you are only giving treats occassionally or praise instead.

If your dogs are not food motivated, or you do not want to use treats, I think praise or a favorite toy or a clicker will work well for you. Brynn was always far more motivated by her favorite toy then a tasty treat. Really, each dog is different and what motivates them to work will be different. Good luck! :thumbs up I think whichever route you go, as long as you use positive reinforcement you should be successful with your pup!

karaf9
October 5th, 2010, 01:28 PM
I am not sure what age your dog is, but I took my puppy to the Calgary humane society classes early this year (january) and I was very dissapointed. First off, we had adopted our puppy from the SPCA, and were told she was 2 months old, (the puppy classes are ONLY for 2-5 month dogs), when we went to the vet, we saw on her file that she was actually 4.5 months old, so that was kind of weird, since the SPCA had actually changed her age on the file. Anyways, it may have been because she was older, but the puppy classes were very ineffective with her. If we had a question, we had to wait until the other 25 people in the class were answered (and we had A LOT!). The trainers did not give alot of 1 on 1, which is something that we needed and wanted. I understand that it is good for the puppy classes to have alot of dogs to socialize with, but that made it very difficult to actually teach and train my dog.

After that, we tried the local pet smart's training classes. I was unsure about this, because I saw a job posting on calgary craigslist for pet smart dog trainer, specifically saying 'no experience required' and things like that. They are basically just cashiers who have learned a few techniques and are teaching it to you. Anyways, that was okay, intermediate training was things like 'stay' but we probably should have done basic again.

Another difference was the price. I think the SPCA classes run 200-400$, the petsmart one was $90. This is not really a reccomendation, but just sharing my experiences. We recently got a new puppy in mid Sept, and I am shopping around for a different training class, though doing some at home already. Please post what you choose and how you like it!