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Discussion Starter #1
So being as my future bernese puppy is my first large breed dog, I feel like basic obediance or kindergarten classes would be good for us. Problem is I can't find any.

I found one training guy near me, he seemed good, then I came across his "acclimating a new puppy-12 weeks" guide, he tells you to put a prong collar on the puppy and let then drag the leash around the house, there for he learns good stuff happens, but also he is in easy reach to give a correction. I'm fine with corrections, but I don't feel comfortable putting a prong collar on a 12 week old puppy.

So all I have found is petCo and petsmart classes which I've heard some not so great stuff about.
 

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That does not match the training philosophy presented by the company. And it sounds super stupid to me.

For people looking at classes at the big chains: Go to the specific store you are considering and check out the training space. Where I live, the training space is about the size of a horse stall. No place to retreat to if you have a hard dog in the class that you want to avoid. No place to go if you have a shy dog that needs to hang back. Even if the trainer was brilliant, the space would ruin my dog's ability to learn. Way too tight to heel or spread out.

Go peek. See if it will work. You can always chose the collar and method you want, but see if the center supports learning.
 

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I would go watch a class, but I don't think it could be too bad for just puppy K stuff.
 

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It depends on the individual trainer, I think. I know one great trainer that got started via box chain stores (I think petsmart?). She now has her own agility training center. But I've also watched quite a bit of petsmart trainers here and been unimpressed. Just this weekend I saw them work for a while (I have a bad habit of eavesdropping while pretending to check out nearby aisles lmao) and there was some really terrible clicker work going on. I'm not sure if that's typical or not but lots of kind of aimless walking around and clicking. Saw a lot of clicking and no immediate reward. I could not figure out what the class (it was a puppy class) was trying to work on either while I watched them go around the store. Makes me wonder how much the trainer knows about the methods they're trying to use. I do like that petsmart at least (no idea about petco) seems very pro clicker/positive training. The trainer here seems nice and I've interacted with her a bit (usually she's trying to get me to get Hank in for training)

She outlined the syllabus (I'm so nosey!) and it was very basic. The next week they were working on wait, drop it, and leave it, for example.

The training area of both stores, petco is worse, is TINY. Sometimes the classes seem too big for the area they have gated off. It's also a really really distracting environment to start off with. Food bags everywhere, out of control dogs, cats sometimes, small furry pets, etc. I think for some dogs the environment would be much much too much too fast.

I know some people are really into the puppy classes but I am not really. That said I would do them if I could find a good place to do them. I would jump on puppy classes with my agility trainer for example (assuming I had a puppy). I'll probably end up just doing that even though those classes don't cover the basic manners. I'm out and about with my dogs though all the time whereas I realize a lot of people aren't and thus could probably benefit from structured classes.
 

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I did a CGC class once at a feed store that was really good though (but not a chain). There might be options around like that. For me the pet obedience type classes always seem to be a waste of time and not focused enough. YMMV
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well I've never done a puppy class or any kind of structured class. I've always trained the basics at home, but everyone keeps pushing the classes this time.

I'm just afraid of not socalizing enough or training enough and then have a crazy giant on my hands lol. So everyone has recomended puppy classes, but maybe I should just work out a socalization plan instead.

I did find a puppy socalization class. It's like for puppies 10-22 weeks. It basically just helps them learn sit, stay, come when called the basics, plus socalization during the young ages, and learning how to interact with your puppy through soft touch and positve methods. Not sure if it would be helpful or just an hour a day to snuggle puppies.
 

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To me, the Petco-type places seem like the worst possible places for a puppy/beginner class. As Laurelin said, they're so noisy and crowded, dogs and people constantly going in and out, birds shrieking, food everywhere, etc. Distractions are great, but you need them after the dog has the basics down, not when they're trying to learn the basics. This especially applies to young dogs and puppies, which usually have the attention span of a gnat.

I'd recommend a club or private training school, if you can find one. Those places won't be pristine and silent either, but they'd surely be less chaotic than a big-box store.

Also, I agree that it's great that these places emphasize positive training. But positive training also has to be effective. I've seen the same thing Laurelin has seen at Petco -- trainers who seem to think random clicking and treating is what you need to do to train a dog. You also need TIMING. Dogs have to connect the click and the treat with their actions. A trainer with bad timing teaching a class full of pet owners with even worse timing is not a recipe for success.
 

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Honestly, if you know how to train a dog to be well behaved, a puppy class is not necessary. I would still go for the socialization and because working with me in a class environment is not something I can easily replicate, but I don't need help teaching a "leave it".

If you don't know how to train a dog to walk on a leash or behave in public, they are a good start, though you will need to continue to train well beyond a 6 week class. A puppy class alone won't prevent a dog from becoming a wild teenager.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm not concerned about teaching the dog sit, or stay or any of those basic commands. I've trained a few dogs and I think I've got it lol.

My biggest concern was, Royce (my past Aussie for those who don't know) knew commands beautifully and a bunch of tricks on top of that, but when we were in public, he would forgot or bark at people and im almost positive it's due to i didn't socalization properly, he came home in the winter, it was cold and I'm pretty sure we didn't really leave the house until June lol. He was nothing I couldn't handle, more of a nuisance. Lol, but this guy will be larger and I want to do everything right. I'm so afraid if doing something wrong I may be psyching myself out a bit.

So my thought was, teaching him from the beginning how to behave arouND the public and socalization at the same time. But I agree it has to he done right to begin with.
 

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I'm not concerned about teaching the dog sit, or stay or any of those basic commands. I've trained a few dogs and I think I've got it lol.

My biggest concern was, Royce (my past Aussie for those who don't know) knew commands beautifully and a bunch of tricks on top of that, but when we were in public, he would forgot or bark at people and im almost positive it's due to i didn't socalization properly, he came home in the winter, it was cold and I'm pretty sure we didn't really leave the house until June lol. He was nothing I couldn't handle, more of a nuisance. Lol, but this guy will be larger and I want to do everything right. I'm so afraid if doing something wrong I may be psyching myself out a bit.

So my thought was, teaching him from the beginning how to behave arouND the public and socalization at the same time. But I agree it has to he done right to begin with.
All they're going to teach you in any puppy class is probably sit, down, and stay. The amount of socialization in a puppy class (usually just some puppy play time) doesn't really imitate actual time outside in public - that part is up to you anyway.

Breeders push puppy classes so hard because lots of people don't do anything with their puppies. They don't take them out, they don't train manners, they just let them run around the house and then wonder why they are wild. At least in a puppy class there is homework, there is some accountability, and there are professionals to help with any issues. But they aren't magical classes that will make your dog well behaved on their own.
 

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Yes you can't just not get out with a puppy ever and expect a dog to behave out and about. You're going to have to actually put in the effort no matter what breed you get. With an even larger dog this is even more important. Thing is a class is not going to solve all those problems. I would definitely go just to force yourself to get on the ball this time. But the class time is not nearly long enough to really work on all the material. Even when I did a pet focused obedience class with a really good trainer (PawzK9 who used to be on here) it was basically her showing us how to work on the things and how to problem solve issues. Success or failure with the material presented is really going to come down to the owner actually getting the dog out and working on it.

When I get a puppy/new dog we are out pretty much daily as soon as they're able. Not always DOING much, but just out and about.

CGC classes are imo great. Maybe a second step in the game plan. I like them because I find they are focused to the test but the stuff on the test is useful stuff for a mannerly pet.
 

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Also, socialization != training. Socialization is just getting puppies out so they realize people are good, other dogs are good, slippery floors and automatic sliding doors are all good. This really only happens when they are babies and becomes harder as they get old.

But training is what happens for the rest of their lives and is what makes them well mannered. A dog can be well socialized and know that people and dogs and busy places are good, and can still be wild and crazy and jumping and barking.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I defentily wasn't thinking the class was a cure all. I guess I just thought it was training plus socalization so it was just an addition to what I was already doing. But from how the puppy classes sound maybe its better to just put my own socalization plan in place and save my money.

Laurelin, is CGC for like adult dogs? My breeder gets all her adults that certification but I'm not sure exactly what it is?
 

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I defentily wasn't thinking the class was a cure all. I guess I just thought it was training plus socalization so it was just an addition to what I was already doing. But from how the puppy classes sound maybe its better to just put my own socalization plan in place and save my money.

Laurelin, is CGC for like adult dogs? My breeder gets all her adults that certification but I'm not sure exactly what it is?
http://www.akc.org/dog-owners/training/canine-good-citizen/

I believe dogs can take the test at 6 months, so it's not just for adults (though most dogs are not ready for it at that age)
 

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I have never done puppy classes.

I will never NOT do puppy classes again. Blame Molly.

The bottom line is that I don't care what the class TEACHES (or doesn't), I care that it's a class setting, and that there are other dogs and people there. I live rural. I have to drive an hour to find any concentration of people, more than the occasional dog, and to have more than one indoor location that will let me take my dog inside. Then there's parvo risk, and I know pups/dogs in a class are vaccinated and the place is safe for them.

If I am going to have to drive an hour (each way) to find people, dogs, indoor settings, and experiences for my dog, I might as well go ahead and do the class and have something somewhat structured for me to do while I'm there. It's also a lot more likely for me to 'cop out' of going out when it's skipping a class I paid for instead of skipping an hour drive to wander around a petstore.

I guess if I was absolutely sure my dog was just going to hang around the house/neighborhood and go to the vet when needed I would continue to skip those classes, and I still don't think socializing is the entire picture, but I won't be skipping out on puppy classes again. I'd rather have a puppy who has experience working in a training class or performing around other dogs and excitement and never need or want it, than need and want it and not have it.
 

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The bottom line is that I don't care what the class TEACHES (or doesn't), I care that it's a class setting, and that there are other dogs and people there.
Yeah, this is it for me. I like doing sports and taking classes with my dogs, and puppy class is an easy introduction to that world. I think it's much easier to introduce a 9 week old to that environment vs a 6 month old who is already wild and hasn't had a lot of training. And it gives me homework and accountability and all that stuff, even if I would do all of that training myself anyway. It's some place for us to go once a week and if I've slacked on training or outings for that week at least we have something.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
This was kinda it for me. A class is something to do. Not just wander around the neighborhood and hope that I'm doing it right. Lol.
 

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Yeah, this is it for me. I like doing sports and taking classes with my dogs, and puppy class is an easy introduction to that world. I think it's much easier to introduce a 9 week old to that environment vs a 6 month old who is already wild and hasn't had a lot of training. And it gives me homework and accountability and all that stuff, even if I would do all of that training myself anyway. It's some place for us to go once a week and if I've slacked on training or outings for that week at least we have something.
There are no words for how much I regret not putting Molly in puppy classes at 8 or 10 weeks old or so. Instead, she started at (almost) 8 months old and she knew how to do _tons_ of behaviors and tricks and obedience, and she knew how to do the foundations agility stuff (mostly), but she had no freaking idea how to cope with the environment. That's the real thing I'm noticing with her, now, and deciding.

Yeah, she learned how to be at the park and the playground and neighborhood and lake and TSC and all. She's great with horses and bikes and kids and people and boats and deer and squirrels and ducks and.

She never learned how to cope with CLASSES, and by the time I was trying to teach that to her she was dealing with higher pressure classes, with more demanding behaviors, _and_ at the height of being a teenager.

I could not have made it harder on myself if I tried.

I'm not doing that again.
 

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but she had no freaking idea how to cope with the environment. That's the real thing I'm noticing with her, now, and deciding.
Don't beat yourself up. Some dogs just find that environment very challenging. It took Watson 2 years to be able to cope with classes, and he still can't work off leash with other dogs around, despite starting at 11 weeks. He's genetically wired to find that difficult (or it's the testosterone) and Molly probably is too.
 

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I'm looking for a class for the same reasons. Sterling already knows the basic commands, he does pretty well on leash, heck I'm even teaching him how to heel right now, but I'd like to be able to ask someone questions and do homework and make sure what I'm doing is the right way since this is my first *my* dog.
 
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