As dog owners or fur parents which is how we would fondly call ourselves, having a dog is not just to have someone to cuddle with or a playmate or another privileged family member. Part of being a parent is to take responsibility by training or disciplining them because it’s not just all about the fun. There should be a healthy and balanced dynamic between the two of you at the very least or with the family. 

Dogs can be quite a handful and with the lack of rules or establishment of you, the owner, as the alpha, you would find dealing with them stressful at some point. No matter how cute they are, they can still get on your nerves. And you’d find that teaching them basic commands will not only be beneficial to your fur baby but to you as well. 

Why should you train your dog?

Most dog owners think that putting in rules and disciplining their dogs take away the fun and spontaneity and somehow isn’t letting their dogs “be dogs”. That is unfortunately a wrong idea. Setting rules and training your dog is not a punishment. 

This sentiment is still somehow present in some fur parents to a degree and some do not find the need for one let alone do it along with a professional. 

Here are some reasons why you should take the step and start doing it. 

  1. The most important reason perhaps on the list is to build a healthy and positive relationship with your dog. Dogs as animals are drawn to a structure of the pack and are inherently looking for leadership and are accustomed to discipline. They’re intelligent animals. But you cannot reinforce leadership or being an ‘alpha’ with the age-old ways of intimidating and punishing them. The best way to establish this is like in any human relation – mutual respect and trust. Proper dog training can help you build this relationship and will influence dogs to be more tolerant and self-controlled. 
  1. Safety. If your dog is not trained, chances are when you lose them on a leash is that they will be running off and you won’t be able to control them. A dog that gets off of the leash untrained is likely to be hit by a car or bolt off the front door before you leave which can lead to an accident. 
  1. Training your dog to teach life skills has been proven to be very beneficial for them. Living in the human world, though as much as they probably love you, can build up some stress and anxiety for them. Training them would provide sufficient mental and physical enrichment and will less likely to develop into behaviors like destructive chewing, inappropriate barking, and any form of aggressive display. It will help them be emotionally stable as you set them up to be successful in the environment that they live in. 
  1. Another important reason to increase sociability. As humans, we can be uncomfortable around other people yet somehow we expect our dogs to be comfortable with other dogs and other humans right from the get-go. They must be trained in order to be able to “manage” social situations well and if not, you could be looking at a distressed dog which is something they shouldn’t be in the first place. 
  1. Lastly is for loyalty and companionship. To improve and strengthen your bond, training plays an important role. Through a positive reinforcement technique, you can foster good behavior and correct bad ones without putting your dog into a mental trauma. This is the key in building a long-lasting bond between you and your fur baby. 

Should I train my dog with a professional? If yes, where? 

Before, training your dog by yourself is an attempt at a poor one and can lead to less beneficial outcomes as we expect it to be. But now that the world has evolved and resources are rich over here in the world wide web which made the whole process of dog training easier. There are lots of YouTube tutorials and classic dog instruction books that you can freely utilize. 

But does this eliminate the need for a professional?

Not really. Though some suggest that you could DIY your way into dog training, it does not tick off professionals in the equation. If you’re not confident to do it on your own or at least start it, enrolling into dog training classes with your fur baby is a good way to start and you can definitely build from there. 

One of the more popular options in dog training is PetCo. Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. is an American pet retailer operating in the US and Mexico in 1,500 different locations as of 2017. It sells pet products and services and certain types of live animals. They’re considered the biggest and top rival of PetSmart.  

What is PetCo’s Dog Training Program? 

PetCo currently offers in-store training as well as online training in light of the pandemic. Their methods are weaved into their motto, “Training Takes Positivity” which is founded on the positive reinforcement method. 

For their in-store classes, they have private and group classes. Private classes provide personalized training for your dog which costs at a minimum of $89 for a single session with options for four and six sessions priced at $229 and $299 respectively. 

As for the group classes, these are offered either in packages or single classes. The Complete Package provides a customized and comprehensive 19-week program with 1 private lesson and AKC (American Kennel Club) Certificate. You can get this at $379.  There’s also the Essential Package at $249 which is a 12-week basic training program. You can check out their whole in-store offers at their site. 

Their online classes start at $99 which is a 4 session group with a maximum of 6 participants only. 

Is it worth it?

As far as dog training classes go, this isn’t as effective as you would expect it to be even with comprehensive packages and most reviewers have noted how expensive these classes are for a minimum obedience skill training. 

But then again, we circle back to the point that this is still a good option if you are not confident to start on your own. Though you would be doing it at a cost. 

But instead of doing a templated version of sessions with the single and package classes which need to essentially cater to a lot of types of dogs that come in, it might be better to go for a private class so that you would be more acquainted with the method and instructions are more focused and personalized. 

There are a few positive notes to weigh in as well. It can help your dog to get familiarized with other dogs and familiarity is a good way to get your dog to socialize. Dog training classes like this can also introduce you to other dog owners with whom you can set play dates with! 

It can also be a fun activity for you and your dog and improve the strength of your bond which is the goal of dog training classes. 

The Bottom Line

Take the review with a grain of salt because these are just from a few first hand experiences and cannot dictate YOUR own experience. 

The more important part is understanding what your dog needs so that you would know what are your best options. Aside from dog training classes, there are also local schools for dogs that you can try which are more of a playhouse than instructional compared to structured sessions like PetCo. Or maybe your dog needs a behaviorist more than a dog trainer to address his or her needs. You need to figure those out before you enroll in dog training classes like this one.