Was it Worth it? Did it Work?
Over the spring, I enrolled Ivy, my now 10-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!
After successfully completing the beginner course (click here to read our review on the beginner level) and the intermediate course (click here to read our review on the intermediate level), we decided to continue on with the advanced level class as well. Hopefully our experiences will help you make a decision that’s best for you!
What Behavior We Hoped to Correct
Ivy now knows all the basics but we wanted to reinforce her ability to listen to commands in a crowd and improve her reactions to other dogs. During the advanced class, we decided to refresh Winston on some of these cues as well.
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 continue on with the advanced level after completing the beginner and intermediate levels because we wanted to achieve the Canine Good Citizen certificate so we can move forward with eventually becoming therapy dog certified.
What You Learn
After completing the Beginner and Intermediate courses, dogs are allowed to move onto the next level of training. The advanced class strengthens your dog’s behaviors to provide faster and more consistent responses and helps improve reliability. Topics covered in this 6-week class include: manners while out and about, advanced heel with distractions, and more. A graduation diploma is presented to all participants at the end of the class.
The 6-week class teaches cues including:
- Accepting a Friendly Stranger’s Touch
- Loose-Leash Walking
- Return to a Heel
- Heel Through a Crowd
- Come When Called
- Reaction to Another Dog
- Supervised Separations
- Reaction to Distractions
- Stay with Distance and Distractions
- Appearance and Grooming
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.
During our first six weeks in the Beginner class, Ivy improved by not jumping on people, sitting, staying, laying down, and watching me for further cues.
The Intermediate Petsmart class thoroughly helped us by establishing a place for Ivy to go settle when I am in the kitchen cooking or guests are over. I use the command “place” or “settle” and designating a no-slide mat for her to report to and stay until I relieve her. This is an extremely useful tool for us!
Another big win for us out of this class was teaching “wait” out of car doors and doorways to her home or yard. Inside of bolting through these doors, Ivy now patiently waits until I give the command to go. I’m able to gather up my things or make sure I have a firm grip on her leash before she moves forward.
In the advanced level course, one of the most helpful things we practiced was learning to sit while a person greeted their human and later to say sat while the stranger greeted the dog. Ivy often jumps on people when she’s meeting them. This enabled her to have nice manners when strangers approached. We also practiced strangers greeting your dog while holding theirs. We also worked on heeling through a crowd with multiple dogs and people in tight spaces. All of this has been super beneficial for us in daily life.
Another useful lesson we learned was sitting down on commands and staying in place from 20 feet away even as someone approaches. We also practiced the dog’s response as an evaluator inspected the dog’s appearance, brushed the dog, examined ears, and feet.
All of the lessons we learned in the advanced class were extremely valuable. This class was the most beneficial for us in the real world. At the end of the class, your dog was tested for the Canine Good Citizen certification.
Some additional perks in your advanced 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 – a trick class. Stay tuned for our review of next class!