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Karsalis October 12th, 2004 11:38 AM

Petsmart Puppy Classes? Good? Bad?
Hi. How is Petsmart for puppy classes? My vet recommended Puppy People in Vaughan. However their classes are double the cost for half the number of lessons. Any feedback is much appreciated! Thanks

Goldenmom October 12th, 2004 12:10 PM

I can only speak of the classes around here, but they are not recommended. Petsmart are dog supply stores, not obedience professionals. I would suggest you look in the yellow pages around you and see what else you can find. The facility I go to in Kitchener comes with University educated obedience trainers.

I personally would keep searching.... Go to each place and get a feel for things. Definately ask what their preferred methods of training is, as some use aggressive methods, where others (like mine) use only positive reinforcement training.

Heather and her 3 Golden Girls.

Mysts38 October 12th, 2004 12:17 PM

Petsmart no no
I personally wouldnt take my dog to a place like Petsmart for obedience training,anymore than I would buy my sofa at a lightbulb store...

SHop around....there is a training place near us that is alot more expensive than Petsmart...but their quality of training is also higher..she only takes 5 dogs(pups)for each class and she has an assistant..that is where hannah will be going.

You do have the options of visiting each training place and judging the methods before you make up your mind...

TalonsMa October 12th, 2004 02:28 PM

I know of a few ppl who have taken their pups to PetSmart for puppy classes, and had nothing but good things to say about it. So we've enrolled Solara, she started this past Saturday and loves it. And my hubsnad love it as well, as there are only 4 pups in the class so we get lots of one on one time. The instructor is extremely helpful, and even rescheduled one of our classes for us (we had to go out town unexpectedly), with no problems at all! For basic and advanced obedience we will be taking her elsewhere :) I say check the place and especially the instructor out and go with your gut feeling.

sue fox October 12th, 2004 08:56 PM

OOOOOhhhh!! glad this was brought up. I've been training Scottie halt/sit/stay and just started come, and want to start obedience training but a little leary since Roxie(past) did well but had a bad experience. We couldn't find anything close at the time and this guy was quite good but there was a loud/alpha dog there at the time and I've always wondered if his consistent barking(3 classes he came) contributed to Roxie being so excitable with every dog she encountered. Especially if I was around! If I wasn't around not too bad and she actually was fine once she met others and was aloud to socialize with but she always had to be "up front" protective but not aggressive hard to explain. I'm sure if provoked she would have stood her ground.
Scottie likes every dog he meets so far and there is this huge Bouvier which we see beyond a fence every night we go for a walk he is loud! But I love going by there as he is getting used to him. Now he'll go to the fence and stay there doesn't want to move while the Bouvier barks a few times and tries to get close, Scottie wags his tail and moans, kind of. I talk really quiet to the other dog and he calms I think looking forward to our nightly visit. Sorry didn't mean to go on, It's just so much fun.
Anyone in the Windsor area have anyone they recommend? for the obedience training i mean.
Thanks Sue

pug lover October 13th, 2004 12:18 AM

puppy classes are just that--puppy. these are not obedience they are socialization. places like pet smart are great i believe for this sort of thing. they see peopple and dogs and cats shopping carts and they learn not to react to everything around them. passing puppies around is always a favorit of mine.

GunnerX October 13th, 2004 07:11 AM

One time I took Ariel to PetSmart to shop and they had a class going on. I decided to stand and see what they do and saw that with most of the dogs, they were teaching them to sit, lie down, etc. Do people really need a class for this? I think a good $20 book or even just browsing through the net would be more help. At 3 months, Ariel already knew all the stuff they were teaching. My wife and I were considering it at first but after seeing that, I decided not to.

Goldenmom October 13th, 2004 09:04 AM

[QUOTE=pug lover]puppy classes are just that--puppy. these are not obedience they are socialization. places like pet smart are great i believe for this sort of thing. they see peopple and dogs and cats shopping carts and they learn not to react to everything around them. passing puppies around is always a favorit of mine.[/QUOTE]

I disagree with you completely.

They ARE obedience classes. At the age of 6 weeks I had my girls sitting on command with hand signals, at 8 weeks they were responding to "down" This is not socialization, this is obedience that will affect your pup the rest of its growing life.

In reputable classes, they give about 15-20 minutes of "socialization" time and the rest is work.

They also give out handouts that should be done at home every single day until the next class. This is also obedience training.

Sorry, but the first 4 months of your pups life is THE most important time for learning obedience as well as everything else associated with a growing pup.

I took my classes seriously, therefore, I now have 3 very well trained, obedient Goldens.

To say Puppy classes are for socialization only, doesn't sit well with me, as you can see.

Petsmart etc. are animal supply stores, thats all. A trained facility where the people get paid well for their experience is where I would want to take any pup.

This is all my opinion only and how feel.

Heather and her 3 Golden Girls

Karsalis October 13th, 2004 09:30 AM

Has anyone had experiece with Puppy People, in Vaughan?

They are very expensive, but might we well worth it if the training is good. They are run by experts.

debanneball October 13th, 2004 09:39 AM

Actually, what exactly would define a 'puppy class'? A class where the puppy is house trained is what comes to mind for me. Now, what you should look for (is exactly as Golden puts it) an [B]obedience class[/B]. They are the best thing that one could do for their dog.

An are in a park, your dog runs towards another dog, you wonder, is it a frinedly dog or want your dog to stop immediately, and come back to you. You and your dog will learn this in an obedience class, and in the long run, your dog will be all the better for it. :D

TalonsMa October 13th, 2004 03:29 PM

i don't see any problem with Solara going to PetSmart for her 'puppy classes' she already knows all the basics, this will just reinforce what we've already taught her. But everyone is entitled to their own opinions :D Nothing wrong with that.

PetTrainerMeeko November 7th, 2004 07:39 PM

PetsMart Training
As a PetsMart training instructor I am offended. The number one thing most people have against our training instructors is they think they are either A. Part time trainers who work in other areas of the store, or B. Inexperienced and can't get a job for a more reputable training firm.

Let me just say the best thing about being a PetsMart trainer is the fact that most programs focus on distractions. If you've ever been in the store on a adoption day, in a busy city, you know it can be loud. The fact that your dog will not only be able to do a 20 foot down stay off-leash, but will be able to do that with everything going on is a great tool for training.

Most of our trainers are under-paid , and under apperciated. The reason class prices are "cheap" is that we are trying to make training affordable for everyone. The thing most people don't realize is that 1 out of every 5 dogs remain in it's original home. Behavioral problems are the number 1 reason most animals are given up for adoption. By offering an no-kill adoption center, and trainers working with those centers we help ensure that those pets will not be put to sleep because someone couldn't spend the money for classes. So you know, most trainers at these stores make less than 8.00 an hour, and only make a VERY small percentage comission wise for their time. For most doggy boot camps, the 800 dollars you spend to send your dog away goes right to the trainer.

Personally I wish we were paid more, but I stay with PetsMart because the ideals they stand for. I have been with the company for 7 years. During the hurricanes that hit Florida they gave money to help their associates who were homeless due to the storms. These same associates that came in everyday to work, not because they were getting paid great, but because they enjoyed it.

Another thing I've read a lot recently is that puppy classes are just that, they aren't obedience classes, and that you can learn everything from a book. Yes, that you can, but the majority of people I've dealt with have already tried a book, and need a bit more help to show them what they are doing wrong. We teach several different levels of obedience classes, from a Puppy Headstart and Basic class - for those dogs learning basic commands, to Clicker training, and Advanced classes with AKC Canine Good Citizens.

Each PetsMart trainer has to go through a training program, and then be evaluated by their area trainer. Sure a few bad ones do slip through, but the best way to find out, talk to the other associates within the store. Ask the trainers what level they are, we have from area trainers down to level 1 trainers. Each store generally has a Senior ,who has been training for at least a year, and evaluated by their students, and corporate.

I look at PetsMart this way, they are regulated , so you know what is taught. Sure each trainer does it a little differently, but generally we keep it pretty much by the book. And the program itself was written by renowned pet behaviorists as well, so you don't have some guy who has just had some luck with his own dog , that is teaching at a fair ground or park.

Overall the best thing you can do with any trainer is ask to sit in on a class, if they refuse, you know that trainer is not right for you. See how the teacher responds to your dog, if you tell them it is fearful of strangers and it goes to pet your dog over it's head look for another trainer. It really doesn't matter where you go, as long as you go to a good trainer, and work with your dog at home to reinforce the things you learn in class.

heeler's rock! November 7th, 2004 08:03 PM

Thanks for coming on here PetTrainerMeeko. I just have to say as a dog trainer myself, that I would never recommend PetSmart to anyone that is serious about training.

Having a class in the middle of a store is not a distraction. Using treats and clickers is no way to train a dog. How does PetSmart suggest weening an owner's dog off of treats? How do you train if you forget your treats or clicker at home? I'm really curious, not trying to be judgemental.

Real training is done outdoors with nothing but a 6 foot leash and a collar. That's all you should need and your dog should listen to you out of respect for you, not for a treat. That's like bribing your kids with money to do their homework! What will make them do their homework when you're broke?

I'm really sorry if you're offended, but I've seen dogs that are trained with treats and they become food agressive and end up in shelters. They don't listen to their owners and if the treats not good enough, they won't listen. I'm also saying this out of experience as my oldest dog was treat trained when I first got her, and she snatched food right out of my hand! Now, she's learned to respect me and that's why she listens to me. I didn't know any better but have learned that treat training is the most horrible thing to teach your dog. JMO.

TalonsMa, if you're serious about training, PetPlanet in Calgary is an amazing place. I don't work for them, but their trainer is awesome. PM me if you want to know more.

Writing4Fun November 7th, 2004 08:42 PM

If treat training is so awful, why does every conformation handler and some agility handlers use them? I believe the general concensus around trainers who use treats is that they are to be used to develop a desired behaviour, to the point that it becomes natural for the dog to respond to that command even when you don't have a treat. Yes, just like children. When potty training my son, I had to bribe him with stickers, puzzles, treats, anything I could think of to get him to sit on that toilet. Now he does it without bribery. Same deal, no?

heeler's rock! November 7th, 2004 09:53 PM

Agility and training for showing is totally different. They are for fun, and treats to teach dogs tricks and stuff is fine because it is not a required behaviour. I have no issues using treats to train my dog to jump over hurdles because it's not something I expect her to do all the time without hesitation. I will never use treats to teach my dog something as important as a sit stay or a required command. Also, if you use treats every now and then for training agility or fly ball, your dog doesn't come to expect treats all the time. They are still just used as an occasional reward, not for all the time training.

Training kids is different. When kids are young, bribery is sometimes the only thing that works, but when they're older, we expect more and we don't expect to have to bribe them to do what we tell them. Dogs only have the mental capacity of a 2 or 3 year old when they're full grown so bribery is harder to untrain, so why do it in the first place?

Treat training your pet to listen to you when you ask it to sit, is not a healthy, respectful relationship on your pet's part. This is all just my opinion and those who disagree are more than welcome too, but it won't change my stance on the subject.

heeler's rock! November 7th, 2004 10:09 PM

I just want to say that everyone is entitled to their opinions about treat training and such, so I want to appologize if I have offended anyone at all. I'm just trying to inform people about the dangers of treat training, clickers, and even halti's. They just mask the issue, not fix the issue. This is just a hot topic for me, so I'm probably gonna stay away from this one, unless someone posts something I just can't ignore :o.

Anyone who wants to know more about non-treat training methods, please PM me. Writing4fun, thanks for your questions and for trying to understand where I'm coming from. Not too many people would have been quite so polite. Sorry again to anyone who might not like what I posted, but we're all here to learn from eachother. :o

Sheriffmom November 8th, 2004 08:36 AM

Hi guys,
We took Sheriff to Petsmart puppy classes and we loved it! The trainer was so nice, and Sheriff learned tonnes! Everytime we take Sheriff to Petsmart he heads for the training area first, if Rebecca is there he can't contain his wiggle bum. He loves her. We've now hired her for the private lessons (Sheriff still has some tugging issues when he walks on lead, and due to our shift work it is so hard to co-ordinate going to regular classes.)
For me the issue is not necessarily where the classes take place, but more does the trainer work well with the dogs? Does the trainer really love dogs? Is my dog learning?
Just my thoughts.... we were very happy with the specific trainer we had at Petsmart. I am not advocating specifically for Petsmart, nor do I know anything about any of the other trainers working at other stores. I'm just saying Rebecca was great with our pup!! :)

Schwinn November 8th, 2004 09:19 AM

We can't say enough good things about our experince. Daisy loved it, and she learned really well. That may be a reflection of the dog, but I know we'd go back in a minute.

PetTrainerMeeko November 8th, 2004 12:03 PM

The problem I have with a random ratio of treats is that most people don't make it truly random. I have to explain to people that a treat every other time, or every 2 times isn't a random ratio for treats. You have to give treats sometimes and then don't use them at other times. I generally recommend all of my students to go practice in the local dog park, where treats are not allowed, and I try to tell them no to use treats at home.

Some breeds of dogs though, to get them to do even required behaviors will need some motivation, whether it be treats, toys, or just A LOT of praise. These dogs tend to do better on a strict schedule and then weaning them on to a random ratio schedule.

What most people don't understand is that we don't think your dogs should have to do things for treats all the time, unless he needs it. I cant stand to hear these so-called training experts preaching about how clicker training is bad, or treat training is bribery, and that they listen to the needs of their students to judge what collar they should use. Generally these trainers that attack PetsMart, and other such training programs are generally afraid of a little competition.

I am friends with several other training facilities in my area, and sometimes I send dogs their way, or vice versa. It's a good idea to know whats being offered somewhere else and be able to help out your student. Because after all, most trainers in these big PetsMart situations aren't making enough to live. All of our trainers have at least 2 jobs to pay the rent, but we care about our students. That is what keeps me there. And if I have to use treats with a dog I will. It is a good place to start for most dogs.

Most PetsMart trainers to will evaluate your dog, and if he's wearing a harness have you try something else. I personally like Halti's and Gentle Leaders, as long as they are a training tool and not a lifetime use thing. I would much rather have my student try these first over using a Prong or a Choke Chain.

I do tell my students about them all, I've had dogs that have needed prong collars, but it's generally 1 out of every 1000 dogs might need it.

I've also read things about how if you look at our graduation book none of the dogs are sitting perfect and polite, and how their owners have to pin them down. I will tell you this, graduation pictures are the hardest part of our class. I would wiggle and squirm too if I had a silly hat thrown on my head and this flashing thing that keeps going off in front of my eyes.

I like to have fun, and make my classes as rewarding for the students as it is the dogs. If they aren't having fun their dog won't have fun either. Whether it be a simple game, or a prize system , we seem to get results.

As I said in an earlier post I get upset when people discredit PetsMart trainers just because they work for PetsMart. You can find a bad trainer at any training facility. The main thing to do, ask questions, see if you can sit in on a class. Also see if they try to pressure you into a class or signing up on that day. If people want to signup the same day I've spoken to them thats great, a majority though want to think it over. Which is understandable, it's an investment of their time. I generally will tell them to give me a call if they have any questions, and 90 percent of the time the people that go home are in a few days later in a class.

Make sure the trainer is right for you, and that their methods will work for you.

Dukieboy November 8th, 2004 12:28 PM

What is wrong with a harness?

heidiho November 8th, 2004 12:56 PM

I dont get it,it is not like it is the bag boy at Petsmart is teaching the class.I heard nothing bad about petsmart classes...They are trained teachers out here they are..

heeler's rock! November 8th, 2004 01:20 PM

[QUOTE]What most people don't understand is that we don't think your dogs should have to do things for treats all the time, unless he needs it. I cant stand to hear these so-called training experts preaching about how clicker training is bad, or treat training is bribery, and that they listen to the needs of their students to judge what collar they should use. Generally these trainers that attack PetsMart, and other such training programs are generally afraid of a little competition. [/QUOTE]

I am most definitely not a so-called trainer. I have done a ton of research into dog behaviour and have found that the most effective methods of teaching are to think like a dog in a pack would. Do you ever hear of a wolf giving a cub a treat to listen to them? No. It's ludacris! I'm actually quite insulted by your comments and I will never recommend treat trainers, clicker's, or halti's to any of the people I come into contact with. No dog breed I have EVER come accross needs bribery to do simple tasks. That's just an easy way out and most people taht do use treats, only use it because it's easy. Simple as that.

PetTrainerMeeko November 8th, 2004 04:36 PM

I generally don't like harnesses because they spread the weight out, making it so your dog can pull easier. For smaller breeds harnesses are ok, but larger ones I would try something like a martingale collar, metal buckle, or gentle leader.

As for not using treats what type of training do you reccomend a person use? What type of training do you do if not with treats, or some form of motivation?

The majority of the training community have found that a diverse training method, focues on positive reinforcement works better than the old school push your dogs nose in the pee to make him realize not to go the bathroom in the house.

For dogs with agression, and fear, treats are a good tool to help make these dogs better, in a faster more reliable method. Clickers can be seen as a result of the Pavlov's theories. As someone who is an educator as well for kids I also have to disagree with something else you mentioned, about not rewarding kids for good behavior. I look at it this way, if you went everyday to your job, didn't hear a bit of good progress, never got paid for your work, got a raise, would you keep working for that person??? No, I think not.

Schwinn November 8th, 2004 04:44 PM

[QUOTE=PetTrainerMeeko][QUOTE= I look at it this way, if you went everyday to your job, didn't hear a bit of good progress, never got paid for your work, got a raise, would you keep working for that person??? No, I think not.[/QUOTE]

I think I need a new job...

glasslass November 8th, 2004 05:20 PM

Books on training are good for suggestions. But, your puppy can't get socialization with other dogs from a book.

Goldenmom November 8th, 2004 05:28 PM

Sorry, the bottom line here is that we will agree to disagree. People need to experiment and use what methods works for THEM. I treat trained my girls and am very happy with the results. I recommend this type of training for anybody. Dr.Ian Dunbar is my hero and I follow all his training methods and tell everyone to also buy his books. To each their own...

Heather and her 3 Golden Girls

heeler's rock! November 8th, 2004 05:39 PM

Yeah, I think we will have to agree to disagree.

Meeko, you are COMPLETELY missing my point about treat training. I give my dogs treats because I feel like giving them treats, not to get them to work for me. Kids do deserve rewards for good behaviour, but parents shouldn't have to bribe their kids to get them to do something simple, like taking out the trash.

I use a maringale collar and a 6 foot leash, with a hell of a lotta praise in my training. Dogs don't need treats to learn! They need direction and a desire to work for you because they love and respect you, like you love and respect them. I am so done with this thread because it's like talking about religion when you contradict training methods. I'm not the only one who thinks treat training isn't any good, and the proof is the amount of trainers that DON'T use treats and get amazing results that last a lifetime, not the depth of your treat pouch.

heidiho November 8th, 2004 05:41 PM

I always heard start with treats but wean them off treats as there reward,then just start praising with no treats...................

glasslass November 8th, 2004 06:18 PM

I use treats for tricks, not basic obedience commands. Den-Den loves to perform his tricks and does so eagerly - for the treats! Corky learned tricks by watching Den-Den and he wants those treats too. Funny thing is he dances (twirling on his back legs) and does it in the opposite direction as Den-Den. Wonder if he's left-pawed or if that's just his perspective of the correct direction from his angle?

tenderfoot November 8th, 2004 08:57 PM

Wow, this has become quite the heated debate. I believe strongly in "when you know better you do better" - and everyone is doing the best with what their experience has taught them.
It is hard to disagree with any training method based on positive treatment of the animal. However, if the human relies on devices or treats to communicate with a dog - the dog relies on it as well and it can be much harder to get off leash at 'college' level (i.e. distractions). Few dogs are going to come away from playing with other dogs for a scrap of hotdog. So people often say you have to have better treats for those occasions, well what if the guy next to you has even better treats? Is my dog going to go to him instead?
We have worked with award winning obedience dogs who are great in the ring working for liver, but get them home and ask them to do something and they look at you waiting for the next bit of liver - not willing to do anything until they see the food first. I do not consider that a well trained dog.
A person should treat their dog for being a friend - but the dog should be working for the human out of relationship - love, trust and respect - through my voice, hands and body language.
Most 'gimmicks' work out of force or bribery, and I don't want anyone I have a relationship with to be with me for those reasons. Clickers can be great for animals who are not relationship oriented, i.e. a Komodo Dragon - who could care less about you as a friend, but is willing to perform for a mouse.
Dogs are hard wired to have leadership in their lives- so why not maximize that? It's why I have dogs - to have relationship with an animal I adore and respect. I want my children to cooperate with me out of love and respect, not because I am offering them candy or forcing them.
Many of our clients come to us because they are not happy with devices or bribery and find that relationship training is fast, effective and hands off. You don't have to carry anything with you because you always have relationship ready at hand.
We have a Petsmart training program here and I have heard goods & bads about it. Our local lead trainer at Petsmart has been with them for a year and feels that he has gotten everything he can from what they offer - so he has asked us to take him to the next level so he can offer better classes to his clients, because he cares about being the best he can be. In the end the person teaching you makes all of the difference. Petsmart is doing the best they can with what they know right now. It is not easy to hire people and train them to be trainers without a 'gimmick' of sorts.

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