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Discussion Starter #1
We have a 12 week old puppy and I was thinking about trying the puppy class at PetSmart. We've been getting out and about with her as much as we can. She's been going with me each day to pick up the kids from school and she goes out in the car anytime we can really take her. But we haven't had the opportunity to meet many dogs, although she was with 3-4 other dogs at her foster's house for a couple weeks until we picked her up.

When I called PetSmart today, I found out the 6 week class was $119. I was a bit surprised at the cost and am just not sure if its worth it or not. She's getting better with sit and shake and I'll willing to spend some time in with training her at home. And I think it'd be nice to get the kids to work with her a little bit at the class and of course would be nice to get her around some other dogs. Willing to spend the money on something that's worthwhile, just not sure if this is it or not.

Thoughts? Thanks!
 

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That cost is pretty typical, actually. I wouldn't anticipate paying less anywhere else. In general, 20$/class for group classes of any sort is pretty good.

I definitely think training classes are beneficial, though Petsmart has hit and miss trainers. I would search around for a better school that uses positive reinforcement to train. You should be more than welcome to have your kids handle the dog, as long as all the dogs in the class are dog friendly (which isn't always the case...some may need more space, and if your child lets go of the leash in what is supposed to be a controlled environment things could go badly). Most of the time, this isn't an issue with well-behaved kids that are a bit older.

If you're unsure and decide to not take the class, I HIGHLY recommend Sophia Yin's How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves for training advice. The book is fairly cheap-15$? It's worth every penny. Once you understand the methods in her book, you understand the basics of training ANY behaviour you want. Classes are a good way to motivate yourself to do the homework, though, so I do recommend going that way if you can.
 

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Kwen summed it up. We actually had a poster here who was a petsmart trainer, and she really knew her stuff. There are many yet who don't, as their qualifications for the trainers they certify are pretty low. So, really, it depends on the experiences and extra research of the individual trainer.

They can in any case be a good place to socialize your pup and learn the basics. That said, they really aren't giving you a huge discount on classes. The last set I paid for was $160 CND for 6, at an independent trainer. Just steer clear of anyone who seems like they are teaching based on stuff that they have seen on animal planet... not always a good sign!
 

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I agree with Kelly and Kwenami's comments - PetSmart (or any chain) can be hit or miss with regard to training. If you can observe the trainer before registering for class, that would help you decide if it's an environment you'd have your dog in. If it matters, puppy kindergarten at the dog training center we use is $145 for 6 weeks of classes.

Even if you don't take the PetSmart (or another puppy) class, I'd strongly recommend making sure he's properly socialized with other dogs. Take him to parks (not dog parks), pet stores, and other places where he'll be able to see other dogs. He doesn't need to interact with them all the time, but he should be exposed in a positive manner.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
thanks for the book recommendation - we have the "Perfect Puppy in 7 days" but will also get this one. Since the price for that class seems about normal, then I think I'm just going to go for it. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't out of whack or anything.

We have a pretty neat place here that seems pretty well regarded
Dog Training Club of St Petersburg - Pinellas - Florida > Home
and I will probably check them out when she gets a little older. I missed any of their puppy classes for this year, which is why I had to start to look elsewhere.
 

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I agree with everyone here, Petsmart classes are a great start, but if you want to go into more advanced training, research other training schools in your area that teach positive reinforcement. Both of my dogs have gone through Petsmart training, one of which is getting ready to go into the Advanced Class, and both of their trainers were fantastic and really knew their stuff! But like others said, it could be a hit or miss.
 

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Just wanted to add that PetCo also offers training, and if you go into the store to talk to their resident trainer, they will usually offer you a discount, so instead of the $120, they'll offer you the course for $99. Just a hint. One of my neighbors is a PetCo trainer. I haven't used their course though.

As a marker for comparison, the place I am considering taking Scarlett charges $250 for an Unlimited Training Package. That is, you can attend their training classes for the lifetime of the dog. And if your dog develops issues later on in life, you can return to those same classes and ask for individualized help. That's a better deal I think than the 6 week course, but it does cost more up front.
 

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@inkii and I were both Petsmart trainers in the past. Honestly, every store and every trainer is different. You can USUALLY do a consultation for free. Meet with the trainer, ask them how they teach. Quiz them on some knowledge, and also ask to watch one of their classes. There are a few trainers that know their stuff (I knew what I was doing and could teach a class) and there are a few who don't (The other trainer in my store knew nothing and would literally read from a book in class). Ask to observe.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I went into PetSmart last nite and asked if they had any discounts on the training and apparently there was a $20 coupon, so I signed up for $99. I figured this was a pretty good price to get her around some other puppies until her Parvo shots finish and we can take her around a bit more. None of the trainers were in that late on Sunday but he kept saying they do positive reinforcement training, so that's good at least. This will give me some more time, too, to see about some other training opportunities in the area.
 

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I'd like to weigh in, if you don't mind. I took Merlin to Petco classes, but I think my input is probably still applicable.

First, I think that training classes are great. Your dog gets exposure to other dogs in a more controlled environment.

Second, if you are wanting your kids to learn to work with your dog as well as you, it might be beneficial to seek out a trainer and do some individual sessions, or find a group class that will be small enough that you guys can get some individual time with the trainer. I found that to be an issue in my first class simply because there were quite a few of us and only one trainer.

Thirdly, keep training with your pup until you find a class. I was extremely happy that I had taught Merlin certain cues already before I went to the class. It helps build a base line for behavior, but it also strenghtens your bond before you start the class.

Anyway, that's my input. Be sure to look for a positive reinforcement trainer that doesn't use aversive techniques or aversive equipment (choke chains, prong collars, etc.)
 

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Petsmart as a company says they train positive reinforcement, but every trainer can train differently and there is no one to tell them otherwise. Keep that in mind. The good thing about Petsmart, and they usually won't tell you this, but if you are unhappy with the class you can get a refund of your money. They may fight you, but you don't have to stay in a class you are not comfortable with because you spent the money.
 
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