Was it Worth it? Did it Work?
Over the spring, I enrolled Ivy, my eight-month old English Setter puppy in our first training class – a beginner training class at Petsmart. We had been working with Ivy the best we could at home, but we needed some additional help! Hopefully our experiences will help you make a decision that’s best for you!
What Behavior We Hoped to Correct
Ivy knew the basics – sit, down, stay, shake – but her consistency was worthy of a coin flip. Our biggest struggle remained jumping as a greeting, pulling like a sled dog on walks, and ignoring the word “come.”
Why We Chose Petsmart
We live in an extremely rural area and were limited to a Petsmart or a private trainer. Private lessons appeared quite expensive compared to the alternative with a 6-week course for $119. We also decided to go with a Beginner class because the Puppy class was for ages 10 weeks to 5 months.
What You Learn
For dogs with no previous training 5 months and older, the Beginner class helps strengthen basic manners by focusing on impulse-control exercises. The biggest hardship and eventual strength is the class takes place in Petsmart. If your Petsmart is anything like mine, it’s semi-chaos. Dogs, kids, and people, birds and small animals in glass cages, dog food kibble spilled, distractions everywhere. If you can master the skills in store, you can carry the training with you everywhere.
The 6-week class teaches cues including:
- “Leave it” to prevent grabbing
- “Off” to prevent jumping
- “Stay” with and without distance
- “Watch me”
- “Find it”
- “Touch” Basic recall lessons
- Loose-leash walking and walking equipment required
In addition to these cues, you begin to form a relationship with your trainer who can help answer any other questions you may have such as other basic house manners, boarding issues, house-training, you name it. The class also is a huge benefit with socialization with other dogs. Petsmart teaches positive-reinforcement training meaning praise for an action completed and no praise for an action left incomplete.
The first week, Ivy walked timidly into Petsmart distracted by every person, dog, the sliding doors. By week six, she confidently walked into the training area knowing exactly where to go listening to my cues and loosely walking in and out. She gradually became more comfortable being around dogs where she would patiently wait as they performed their actions before it was our turn.
Through the class, Ivy has improved leaps and bounds with not jumping on people, sitting, staying, laying down, and watching me for further cues.
The Petsmart class instructed us about loose-leash walking tools that will help us such as an Easy Walk and Gentle Leader. Both have helped tremendously, but Ivy still needs lots of work here. She pulls so hard as if she’s a sled-dog. I’m hoping this problem is addressed more in the Intermediate class.
Ivy also has not mastered recall. The “touch” command we learned at Petsmart only works for Ivy in situations without birds or bugs … meaning inside the house, she will come and touch your hand wherever she is, but outside, the distractions are far too appealing.
Some additional perks in your Beginner class includes:
- Graduation cap, diploma, and pictures at the end of 6 weeks (BIG DEAL FOR DOG MOMS AND DADS EVERYWHERE)
- Coupons for Petsmart treats and training equipment
We decided to give the next level of classes – the Intermediate – a try to help solidify what we’ve learned. Stay tuned for our review of next class!