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Hi all - looking for some training advice. I have a almost 4 month old Westie, and I want to enroll him in a beginner training class this January. He has been good so far and has already learned some commands and is getting a lot better with housebreaking! I'm curious if anyone has any opinions on enrolling him in a beginner training class at a big chain pet store (PetSmart) or using a private company near where we live. It costs about $100 more to use the private company, but I am confident they will be really good as I know someone who used them. I'm just wondering how much of a difference it can make and if a large store can be just as good? I do not know anyone who has used training there, but we have been there multiple times and everyone is always very pleasant/helpful. I am not surprised a small, local company is more $$ - I'm just trying to figure out if it is worth it or not. Any thoughts are appreciated!!
 

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I think it depends on what you're looking for. If you don't have any specific concerns, the pet store is probably just fine as long as they have a decent trainer. I'd look for reviews and really question their methods just to be sure you feel comfortable going there, though.
 

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I've done both, and it is hit or miss. There is a local club back home that I LOVE. They are the best.

I've done PetSmart as well, and I think it totally depends on the trainer. The guy we had was great. Taught us a whole bunch of other stuff as well as the basic curriculum.

I would suggest contacting both and asking to sit in on the classes. That will give you an idea of what it will be like. If they don't let you sit in on a class, that would be a red flag for me.
 

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As someone who use to teach at Petsmart, I would recommend going there and meeting the trainer, maybe even sit in for a class to see if you like the trainers teaching style. They are all different and some of them are great, and others are horrible.
 

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I agree with @jclark343, I would meet the trainers and observe one of their classes before deciding. Do you homework and decide on the kind of training you want. Just because a trainer comes recommended, doesn't mean they will be right for you or your dog.

I took my dog when he was 9 months old to an older puppy class given by a highly recommended trainer, but it turned out this was not the class for my dog. He was a little bit older than the other puppies and much, much bigger, so the trainer wouldn't let him play with all the puppies (she made us stand outside the enclosure and watch through the fence - brutal), and he was separated from the other dogs behind a counter/wall for the actual class. The irony was he was the most proficient dog there and certainly not one of the worst behaved by a long way. She also wasn't really able to handle a giant breed dog, I was better than her. She was okay with little dogs, though, I guess. Needless to say, we went twice then quit.
 

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Plenty of good trainers get their start at pet stores. Plenty of bad ones too.

If you know someone who used this private trainer and you trust their feedback I'd go with them. It's slightly less unknown than the pet store option which is a complete unknown.
 

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If it is in your budget, I'd take a few 1-on-1 training sessions, to evaluate with what you need help. :)
I'd ask around in your area which trainer others dog owners can recommend.
 
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