|The training room at our local Petco|
Despite my embarrassment of admitting that we were training Athena at Petco, here is a list of reasons why we opted to enroll in a Petco basic obedience (AKA Adult Dog Level 1) course:
- Money - The course is $110 for 6 one-hour classes (the first class is humans only), but we were lucky enough to score a $20 off coupon making the course only $90 (so that's $15 per class). Somehow we also ended up getting a 7th class for free.
- Trainer - One day while shopping in Petco I was approached by the resident dog trainer who gave me the $20 off training coupon. Before signing Athena up, I was able to talk to the trainer about her experience with dog training (she actually had a long history of dog training before becoming a trainer at Petco). Also before committing to the course, I brought Athena in to meet the trainer to make sure that it was a good fit.
- Positive & Rewards Based - We like that Petco's training philosophy focuses on positive reinforcement through the use of rewards because today's research shows that this is the best way to train a dog (especially pit bull type dogs). For the most part, the training was very positive. The trainer did deviate a little from the positive method in teaching us about Bitter Apple. However, this spray has been a life saver in dealing with Athena's mouthiness and leash biting.
- Training Facility - I can guarantee that we wouldn't have paid $90 for the course if the Petco in our neighborhood didn't have such a large and private training room. Most Petco and Petsmart stores have a very small area (reminds me of a cubicle) in the middle of their store dedicated to training. The Petco where we received training had a large room for training that wasn't accessible to costumers shopping in the store.
|The usual Petco & Petsmart Training Cubicle|
Now that we have completed the basic obedience course and Athena is an official graduate, I am able to reflect on our overall experience. For the most part, we enjoyed the training at Petco and believe that Athena (and us) learned quite a bit during the seven weeks. However, I don't think that our Petco training experience was the norm. Our first 4 classes were private because no one else signed their dog up for training during our time slot. This allowed the trainer to focus on Athena's specific needs. When we finally switched time slots, we were in class with no more than two other dogs at a time (every time they were different dogs).
So, we give Petco training a four star rating out of five based on our personal experience. Athena learned many commands including sit, down, stay, come, leave it, and heel and received some great socialization and practice with distractions. Our one criticism would be that there didn't seem to be a real plan for what Athena would be able to do once she graduated. When first meeting the trainer, she told us of all of the amazing commands that we would learn throughout the six weeks. Petco's website even describes that the Adult Dog Level 1 course will teach skills such as "leave it," "wait," and "walking on a loose leash" and will also address challenges such as jumping, barking, and digging. However, we didn't learn all of the commands and ways to deal with behavior that we were promised.
What have been your experiences training your dogs at big box stores or elsewhere?
We are looking forward to beginning the Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.) training through Regarding Rover beginning in October! More about that to come this week...