You know, I have been following this thread with much interest. Even before it started I had informed The Boyfriend that he was taking the mastiff puppy to PetSmart for puppy lessons.
Maple (the puppy, not TheBoy) can sit and drop and come and will behave mostly on the leash and knows "easy" when taking treats and "settle" when he gets too active. The training is mostly for TheBoy who has never been to obedience classes. He makes the standard novice mistakes -- his commands sound like a question, he repeats something 2 or 3 times, he calls the dog over to tell him "no". today is TheBoy's day off and this morning I made him take Maple over to the vet's office because the last time we were there, he was nervous and growled at the receptionist. They spent about half an hour in the office and the receptionist and the vet tech took turns giving him treats (the puppy, not TheBoy) and weighed him (42 pounds!!!! and he is only 12 weeks old). I have told TheBoy that he has to do that a couple more times before we go for our next set of shots.
See, I don't need to train the puppy, although the socialization with a number of other dogs and people will help him -- I need to train TheBoy -- and PetSmart will do that just fine.
PetSmart and other stores of that kind are a good way to get novice dog owners introducted to the idea of obedience classes and dog training. The program is short (8 weeks, I think) and the classes are small and the owners are going to be more relaxed about their surroundings.
When I took my first mastiff to a "real" training class I was in with about 25 other dogs and although I warned the trainer that Bo could be dog-aggressive, he did not believe me. And he picked on her because he thought she was slow and stupid. boy! did she scare him a time or two! Although the trainer had an excellent reputation in schutzhund (sp?) and in the rottie community, his training method was too punitive for my sensitive mastiff but I was too much of a novice to understand that his methods were the problem, not the dog's "stupidity".
I have watched a PetSmart class where "my" trainer was teaching and I think she is going to be just fine. She has a good sense of humour and is very patient and I had no arguments about what she was teaching (although Maple has already learned different words for some things). I'm not certain that we will continue with PetSmart classes after the puppy one is over, but we'll see ....