PetSmart vs AKC-affiliated Obedience club

14 replies [Last post]
Tannaidhe's picture
Offline
Joined: 2013-02-25

The title pretty much asks the question.

We will be getting our puppy Koko in a few weeks, and I know I want to enroll him as early as possible in training classes, for both socialization and help with the training itself (I know all the theories but having set 'homework' will make it easier on me to stick to it properly I'm sure, and with a dobe I don't want to risk my slacking.)

Now, we live in a tiny town, so we'll have to drive an hour to classes either way. There is an AKC-affiliated obedience club with a puppy manners class (for pups 3-5 mo old) starting May 7, which Koko will be just shy of four months old I believe. However, it's on Tuesdays, which is absolutely the worst day of the week for us, as my spouse would never be able to go.

The other option, would be to go through PetSmart. I have read very mixed reviews on their obedience classes. We've used their PetHotel before and were quite happy with their staff and our small dog's condition and attitude when we picked her up (except that she didn't want to leave with us >.>)

Obviously, meeting the instructor from PetSmart would be a necessity, and would only go that route if they had a good time for us available, like on a weekend.

Is there really just a huge difference in the quality of training? Especially at the early levels, when it's more about early socialization and the basic stuff I could do by myself?

Is it worthwhile spending much more on the classes in the end (we normally make the drive each weekend anyway to go grocery shopping)and sacrificing one of us being able to attend, to get the 'better' training?

Or, perhaps, would it be best to get the early training done more conveniently, then when we get into the higher/more advanced type classes to switch?

Are there any other factors I haven't considered?

Tayoh and I's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011-11-08

I work at PetSmart.

That said, I've been both types of trainer. 
I really like PetSmarts training classes. They teach socialization, house manners, and problem solving in addition to the cues. I like how their classes are split up (puppy-beginner/ intermediate/ advanced/ click-a-trick). The trainers are sent off to train under an "area trainer" (more advanced trainer) for several weeks before they begin training themselves. They use a positive rewards based system (no slip-chains or prong collars or punishment- other than an "Uh-Uh"). 

While your training at PetSmart, your pup has to learn to listen with all the distractions around. People, other dogs, odd noises, etc. A lot of socialization happens because as a PetSmart employee, we all love animals (therefore want to help your dog learn- and pet them too!). The trainers at our stores use all the employees to help with training. While the person and dog walk around, we get to have the dogs sit for greeting. I've been working at PetSmart for a year. I haven't seen anyone leave a class un-satisfied. 

I think one of the big up-sides of going to PetSmart is the 100% guarantee. If you don't think your dog has learned enough, you can re-take the class as many times as necessary.

If you have any questions, let me know!

dsh210's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011-12-26

Pet Profiles

Congrats on the new pup! I bet you are very excited, I know my fiancee and I could not wait to get ours!

We took some obedience classes at two locations: first with the shelter we got our puppy from (he was 10 weeks old so it was very basic stuff but required as part of the adoption), and again at PetCo. I was initially hesitant about the training from PetCo because I was not sure what to expect. It was cheaper and I thought that it may be because the training was lower quality.

I am happy to say I was wrong. Our trainer was fantastic and we proceeded all the way through the AKC Good Citizen training with PetCo. I think it is all about getting a good trainer. I am sure if you stop by the Petsmart store you will be able to talk to the trainers and just get a sense of how they train. 

Our pup came out very well behaved and I am very happy, plus we saved some money and spent that on some agility training with him at a sport club; we did not consider doing other types of training before and he loves it! He gets to show off his Doberman agility!

-Admiral's Dad

DJ's Dad's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-10-04

Pet Profiles

I personally like the Petsmart classes.

I have taken DJ to Petsmart puppy classes....it was a wonderful way to get her started with socialization with other puppies and people, distractions, and learning to listen.  After she took the puppy classes there, we took Level 2 obedience classes at a different training facility, then to another one for Intermediate Obedience classes.  Since then, we've done basic agility classes, are currently enrolled in clicker training classes, and have a Scent Work class coming up beginning the end of next month.

I like the way Petsmart does their classes....positive reinforcement only, even though sometimes I had to get a little more stern with DJ at home than I did in the class environment.  LOL.

Training of any kind is never a wasted effort, whether it be Petsmart group classes, private one-on-one trainers, or working on your own.  Training is a committment you make to your dog, and it always has it's rewards in the long run.  Always.

Echo's Dad's picture
Offline
Joined: 2013-01-10

Pet Profiles

Congrats on your new family member.  Training classes all depend on the quality of the trainer.  Like others, I too took my pup to petsmart and do not regret it.  Also, initially during training it is best to only have one parent teach the pup as every person is different and has their own way of training.  Different mannerisms, voice inflections, hand placement are all going to be different and can confuse the puppy.  If only one person does the training until the puppy knows the commands and signals he will learn quicker and respond to training faster without anxiety from getting confused.

Training to hand and voice signals is a good way to train, but the hand signals must always be the same for a given command, differing for others, i.e. palm down held horizontally for down, palm facing puppy and vertical for stay, etc.  Hand signals are good to teach as it may not always be appropriate to vocally correct your dog, such as having him stay while you go check the sleeping baby whom you do not want to wake up.

Enjoy!

Lady Kate's picture
Offline
Joined: 2009-10-28

Pet Profiles

Have been watching this thread to see what others have opined ( word for the day.. 'opined') as I've never done any formal training with Sofia, I was curious to see some answers.

My first thought was exactly what Echo's Dad said; "Training classes all depend on the quality of the trainer."

That and no matter where you go or who ( whom?) you have train, consistency is the key. Without practicing EVERY DAY what you learned in the class, it's a waste of time energy and $'s.

BTW Tannaidhe. Koko is an adorable pup. haven't welcomed you to the Forum yet, so sorry.. We're thrilled to have you here and can't wait for lots of pictures and stories about your sweet boy!

Kate and Sofia

Tannaidhe's picture
Offline
Joined: 2013-02-25

Thanks so much everyone, I feel much better about going the PetSmart class route!


I'm the "stay at home mom" so to speak, so I'll be the primary trainer, but I figured it would be good for my spouse to be there and see/hear what goes on, understand the training and so on.  Get the people side of the training, essentially.

We will definitely go and check out PetSmart this weekend when we go for groceries.  Of course it would be far too easy for them to post class schedules on the website.  *rolls eyes*  And hopefully we'll get a chance to meet the trainer as well (I assume they are there most every day, given the schedule that is posted.)

 

As for being excited...  I'm going to be an exhausted wreck by the time he gets here, between getting the house ready for him, and not being able to sleep!  haha

Tayoh and I's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011-11-08

You can call your local petsmart and get their schedule. As far as posting it on their site, there are so many petsmarts, and each trainer's schedule is different. There is usually atleast 1 or 2 puppy classes that start every week. Our trainers are scheduled for 5 out of 7 days a week, so there is usually at least one trainer there every day- dunno if that's just our local store, or if its a policy. 

talisin's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011-02-25

I train at home but have taken my dogs to classes before and had a blast, if I have just one dog (not a doberman) but one dog - it's just me and him if I have more than one, we go to classes typically. I have not had a doberman except a long time ago but currently have a rottweiler, chihuahua, have had a whippet, collies galore, rhodesian ridgeback, husky, shepherd, and a few strays I prefer puppy classes but as the dog gets older I choose one on one training, but that's just me. A doberman should learn quickly and you will have a lot of fun in class with your smart doberdog :)) and it helps teach others about the breed in a great way.....I considered petsmart classes for Benjamin but he thought it was too much trouble he prefers to snooze away instead of doing hahahaha

Tannaidhe's picture
Offline
Joined: 2013-02-25

Sounds about right for an adult rottie haha...  I think my mom's rottie might have broken her 'never bit anyone' record if my mom suggested she wake up for that long.  ;)

DefJenWreckers's picture
Offline
Joined: 2013-02-05

Pet Profiles

Welcome, Koko! Archie (12 wks) just started puppy class at PetSmart, and we really liked it. He is by far the biggest one in his class (a few bassets, some furry puffballs, a rat terrior) but, at least for week 1, he was the most attentive. In my area, PetSmart was the cheapest by a long shot, and the trainers were "highly recommended" in their yelp reviews (for what any of that is worth). Good luck!

Def Jen

Tannaidhe's picture
Offline
Joined: 2013-02-25

So, we went by the PetSmart this evening when we went down for groceries.  It was a wonderful experience, actually!

 

As we were standing there trying to decipher the scheduling shorthand on the board, a lady came up and asked if we were there about training.  After an exuberant and relieved 'Yes!', we explained our situation.  Turns out she is the trainer, a lovely lady named Dawn, and she was absolutely delighted by the fact we were there to set up training before even getting our pup, weeks and weeks before he'll be elligible for even the puppy classes. 

Oddly, as they were set up, no new puppy classes were starting between the middle of march and the end of April, which means we'd have to wait over a month before we could enroll him.  To which she asked when would be the best time for US, and reset the training schedule to start a class at our preferred time the weekend after we get him.  >.>  She also gave us her business card, and told us to call her any time if we have any questions or need help with him once we get him, etc.  I liked her a lot and am very, very reassured, and impressed!

Tayoh and I's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011-11-08

Yay! 

DJ's Dad's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-10-04

Pet Profiles

One of my best friends was a Pet Smart dog trainer for 9 years, and she is that way, also....really REALLY cares about the dogs.  She has moved on to a private training  facility where I also go, and teaches Scent Work and Search & Rescue skills.  PetSmart is a good place to start, but keep in mind that later on you might want to find some more specific training for Koko.

That first month that you have him before your classes start is a great time to just let him be a puppy and bond with you.  You can always work on teaching him at home to sit before classes start, and other simple basic things, you know.

talisin's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011-02-25

Make sure that all the vaccines have been given by the time the puppy class starts.....keep us posted on how classes go they are soooo much fun with puppies...