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Discussion Starter #1
We have taken our dogs to the same dog trainer regularly for about 6 months (we took Colby to this trainer when she was a puppy, too). Unfortunately for us she has decided to switch gears and work solely with her service dog training non-profit org. I'd like for the dogs to continue with obedience classes and I'm looking for some other options. I went into PetSmart today for cat food (without the dogs) and was talking to one of the trainers who had an EXTREMELY well behaved 7-month old Aussie.

I've never really considered PetSmart's obedience classes before. I guess I just assumed they would be terrible for absolutely no reason that I can think of right now. So I'm wondering: anyone have experience with their classes?
 

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I have never taken classes there, but have watched them and have known people to take classes and were not happy with them. I believe it really is hit and miss and all depends on the trainer, some can be really bad but others are good.

How far are you willing to travel for classes? I used to live in MD, so I could probably refer you to some places.
 

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I have taken a class at a PetSmart and I also worked there as a trainer for a bit (I quit because of scheduling reasons, not because I didn't like training there).

The trainer I took classes from was not my cup of tea (though I didn't know it when I had her). She had me alpha rolling Kimma as a 3 month old puppy, and she taught very much "to the book" - AKA didn't have any "outside the box" solutions for problems that weren't being fixed with the methods they teach trainers according to the book. She was a nice lady and did love dogs, but just not right for me at all. And the issues the alpha rolling created in Kimma (fear of strangers, complete lack of trusting me for a while) took a while to resolve and manage.

When I worked there, I'd like to think I was decent enough LOL. People liked coming to me, and wished to continue on to the other levels with me, specifically. I had more training experience than just reading the manual they give you, though, so that was different and worked in my favor. I think that if you find a trainer that you like there, there's no reason to not go for it. I would maybe go in on a day that she has a class and see how she is in that setting, just like I would recommend for any trainer/training facility/club. While there, you can also talk to her students and see what they have to say.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have never taken classes there, but have watched them and have known people to take classes and were not happy with them. I believe it really is hit and miss and all depends on the trainer, some can be really bad but others are good.

How far are you willing to travel for classes? I used to live in MD, so I could probably refer you to some places.
My old class was about 25 minutes away. I don't want to travel much further than that, but any recs are welcome!
 

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There are plenty of obedience clubs (AKC affiliated) in MD, that offer classes on schedules. I will have to check and see which ones are closest to you. And will list them when I get all the details. I think the ones I was thinking of might be a little out of range, but I will list them anyways.
 

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Here are some that I know of, all have websites so you can find full details on them

Capitol Dog Training Club- Silver Spring, MD

~ Never trained with them but know people who have and they liked it

Dog Owners Training Club of Maryland- Pikesville, MD

~Trained at the facility but for conformation not obedience, but watched the classes when we had a break, and liked what I saw, they don't have mats unless they got some since I trained there.

Oriole Dog Training Club- Baltimore, MD

~ Never trained, but know people who did

Canine Training Association- Beltsville, MD and Davidsonville, MD

~I trained here at the Beltsville location, and really loved it, it's very friendly, and many of the trainers are AKC licensed obedience Judges, and some of the people who train there are judges, plenty of people have gone on to high obedience titles on their dogs from training here. I loved it, really miss my friends from there. I think most of the trainers use a balanced training method, but there is always lots of praise, and most of the time (specially in the upper classes) when there is down time, you get to do some fun stuff, or train one on one or just train by yourself.

Catoctin Kennel Club- Point of Rocks, MD

~Again, used to train there for conformation but not obedience, and never saw the obedience classes, but I am sure the trainers are successful.
 

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I think it depends on the employees of each PetsMart. I took Luke there and was not satisfied at all. The trainer knew what I studied from books and when I would ask a question, she would say she would get back to me and never would. Or she would answer in a way where it wasn't answering my question at all; I left feeling that Luke was not trained (except when I did him at home before the PetsMart training). But the employees at our stores do not know their information that much. Some do, but most don't. Immediately we took Luke to another training facility (William's Dog Training Company--my grandmother took her dog there and Luke's been great with it!)

It's ultimately up to you, but I would seek obedience training classes elsewhere. I don't know what state you live in, so maybe it's different, but here in NJ (near where I live) I only go to shop there for food, treats, toys, etc...never training classes. If someone asks me if they're good, I tell them no.
 

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I did a Bella's puppy classes at Petsmart. Not an amazing experience, but not terrible either. The trainer was super nice. The one thing to consider though is if you go to that Petsmart a lot, you will see the trainer there after you finish her class. So now every time I go to PetSmart I see our old trainer and she asks me when I'm signing Bella up for the next level. It's kind of awkward...
 

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I used Petsmart training classes with Scout, A St. Poodle I was helping a friend with and Oliver.... However I used them only for the other dog aspect. I followed what they were doing, but did things my own way, if they were different from what the trainer was doing.

Thing about Petsmart classes. the trainers go for a few days for "training" and have a book and curriculum to follow. they are supposed to use clicker training and positive only methods.... however alot of trainers dont have any understanding of clickertraining, and cant teach it. I was friends with the trainer there, which is why we got away with doing our own thing.
 

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My puppy is in Petco training classes and I think they are really good. They have different levels like Puppy 1, Puppy 2, Basic, Adult Dog classes and etc. A lot of the training is basic but they use a positive approach to training which I think is great. She has answered every question I have had right at the time I ask it and my dog is better behaved now. I really enjoy them and think they are great. I paid $100 for a 6 week program.
 

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PetSmart and Petco have some good training classes for their trainers. However, as Chaos said, it is Hit or Miss, whether the trainer gets it. I've talked with someone who had ten years experience, and I had a class with someone just out of training (blind leading the blind). PetsMart used to post info on their trainers, but I think customers got wise, so the practice stopped.

In addition to some of the MD area posts here, I suggest talking to your Vet, groomers, to the old trainer, locating competitions/dog parks to ask about trainers. Rescues, SPCA, Shelters, DogPound may have some ideas, as well as the closest Vet school.
 

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I work at Petco as a trainer, their usual training program is 4 months long and is based off of a couple of Patricia McConnell books Puppy Primer and Family Friendly Dog Training. The training is good, but after the trailing we're left on our own. The guy who is 'training' me has some weird/bad ideas but nothing is really done to monitor us after the training, so like some here said, its pretty hit or miss.
 

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Go meet the trainers. I had a very good experience with the trainer(s) in my local PetSmart, and I've become friends with one of them. Observe a class and watch how the trainer manages disruptive dogs, positive reinforcement (and corrections, assuming they're used) and all that jazz. If there's a PetSmart near you, it's worth a look.

/not a corporate shill, I swear. I've posted about PetSmart training before.
 

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How good the petsmart classes depends (like other classes) on the skills of the instructor. Some are very novice. Some are more experience. Some are good
 

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I definitely agree with those saying it will depend on the instructor.

We did a basic puppy class at Petsmart with Faolan because my fiance works there and employees get one class free. We thought it was ok. Nothing we hadn't heard before, but the experience was good for Faolan because in a store environment it really helps with working on distractions. Our instructor taught us the basics of sit, stay, leave it, walking on a leash, coming when called, and I think there was more but I can't remember. We took our second class at a different place just to compare, and it kind of blurs together in my mind. Anyways, our trainer did tell us some things that were kind of silly (like never allowing your dog on the furniture because you don't want them to think they're dominant) but she never tried to teach alpha rolling or anything, it was all positive reinforcement clicker training.
 

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I had a great trainer at Petsmart. My golden and german shepherd went through 3 classes each there. Both of them also got there CGC's. It really depends on the trainer, mine has been training for over 20 years. She also trains at a dog club, has 2 Rotts that are titled, and a pug that is titled too....these dogs are trained very well. I have my dogs in a refresher course at another place and they are much more advanced then any of the other dogs. They are used as demo's all the time. Whenever we go to Petsmart and my GSD hears the trainers voice, the ears go up and she starts looking for her...always has a kiss for her trainer...my dogs love her:)
 

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I did some research on PetSmart classes within the last few weeks and the reviews I found were not favorable, though like others have said it will all depend on the individual trainer and what you are hoping to get out of the experience. Perhaps you could go into the local store during a training session and observe? Or at least ask some questions to the trainer to see if his/her methods are in line with what you're looking for.
Another option, especially if cost is a concern, is to look at local SPCAs/Humane Societies to see if they offer classes. The SPCA near me offers several classes at different times throughout the year for a very reasonable price with a certified trainer and the Humane Society where I used to live offered classes with an exceptional trainer who worked with the dogs and also with their owners on clicker training basics and general behavioral concerns. I wish I still lived there so I could take my new pup to her! So it might be worth looking into in your area.
 
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