Building a balanced relationship with our best buddy aka our dog (because who else?) is very important. That is we put a healthy mix of discipline and fun which is similar to how you would raise a child. Admit it, our dogs are not just dogs – they’re family members like our sons and daughters without the other half because who needs them when you have a dog, right?
This is why laying out rules and establishing that you’re the alpha of the pack are very essential and beneficial. Dogs as animals instinctually crave the structure of the pack and the leadership and the discipline that come with it. So no, you’re not a bad fur parent for doing that.
Also, let’s reiterate that training or disciplining our babies does not automatically mean that there’s no fun or play. Quite the contrary, training a dog should in no way inhibit playfulness or spontaneity.
There are many ways to train a dog and one of the most popular ones is through a dog training class facilitated by an accredited dog trainer just like the services offered by PetSmart.
What is PetSmart?
PetSmart is the leading North American pet company established in 1986 by Jim and Janice Dougherty. It’s a one stop shop for pet products (food, supplies, and accessories) and services (grooming, day care, boarding, dog training, and veterinary care). This 2020, they already have 1650 stores in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Aside from these services, they also facilitate dog and cat adoption via in-store adoption centers through the nonprofit organization, PetSmart Charities. Over the course of their business, they have now partnered with 3500 animal welfare organizations and have facilitated over 9 million adoptions.
What is PetSmart’s Dog Training Program?
PetSmart offers four essential training programs each run through a course of 6 weeks with a one hour weekly class. All of these are available for $119 for each program. Additionally, they also have a therapy dog training program and a bonus trick program.
The essential dog training programs are divided into Puppy Training for 10 weeks old to 5 months old, then the Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced programs for 5 months and older which depends on their level.
They also offer Private Training Work for Individual Needs which is one-on-one with an accredited trainer. The rates range between $45 for a 30-minute session and $219 for a 4-hour session which you can split into shorter sessions depending on your preference.
PetSmart assures that all of their trainers are accredited. All trainers are also equipped with a strict session plan and are guided to do positive reinforcement methods.
Is it worth it?
Yes and no.
First, if you’re only looking for a basic training program or a basic obedience class for your dog, then yes, it’s a good investment. It’s a safe and affordable training class and you can start early on the Puppy Training program then hop on to the next programs and build up to the Advanced Class. Also, PetSmart offers discounts for multiple classes which is very good with our wallets.
As mentioned before, PetSmart dog trainers are all accredited and they’re very knowledgeable so you are sure that they know what they’re doing.
Among the numerous reviews, they all agree that PetSmart’s dog training class is a good avenue for their dogs to socialize with other dogs and learn how to bond with them. Aside from that, owners also benefit with the introductions and they can also set up dog play dates on a schedule. This provides a healthier environment for dogs especially if you only own one.
It’s also a good way to observe how other fur parents interact and deal with their own babies. This kind of situation offers a wider perspective and also allows owners to share their techniques and style which can help one another.
But those are the only advantages or benefits that people have noted and as for the reasons for the Nos, we’re looking at a long list.
Dog training is not a one size fits all — that is, generic or templated class structure is only beneficial to a point. Sure your dog can learn basic commands but honestly with the rich resources available on YouTube and books, you can actually teach your dogs exactly these with a clinker and some treats. You can also personalize the style depending on your dog’s breed and behavior.
Yes, it’s affordable but you’re actually looking at an in-store space of about 15 feet by 15 feet dedicated as a training space with the extension of the store for application of training which is honestly a double edged sword of distraction. On one hand, it is a good place to help you discipline your dog in a public space yet on another, it might not be as good because it might cause the dog to not focus on anything but the toys.
Not to mention that the class is very diverse with mixed-size dogs so if your dog has an issue with smaller or bigger dogs, then you will have a problem. This is why some dog training classes are separated by size to prevent this kind of problem.
Another major note among reviews is that the trainers are knowledgeable but they are not exactly good teachers. Think of it this way: Many intelligent individuals enter the academe but being smart does not guarantee that they would be able to deliver the information to the students in a way that fits their level. The same goes here.
Trainers rely heavily on the strict lesson plan provided by PetSmart. They do not offer alternatives on how to deal with your fur baby and only answer when prompted. Even at that, their opinions are also restricted.
In one review by Meg Marrs of K9 of Mine, she noted that she had rarely been corrected during practice and if you want to know how you’re doing it wrong, you would have to take the initiative to ask the trainer/instructor for guidance.
They also don’t offer a more in-depth explanation of the methods that they’re using which can be quite frustrating for some owners who basically enrolled to be educated about these things.
But take this with a grain of salt, although reviews have noted these negative things regarding the instructor, it does not stand to generalize that all instructors are not capable of being good teachers.
The Bottom Line
To reiterate, a dog training program is not a one size fits all but if it does fit your needs as an owner to have your fur baby learn or improve obedience skills, the PetSmart program is a solid option. If not, you might want to look for other options such as local school dogs or for some, a dog behaviorist.
It’s best to know your dog’s behavior and needs before jumping the gun to enroll which could later on just prove to be not beneficial. Explore your resources first through online videos and books and try out first with those. If it works, then you’re saving dollars! But if it does not and you are convinced to take on a class, you can try and arrange a meet with the trainer before you let him/her meet your dog. This could provide some feel and insight towards their style and whether it fits your own preference and needs.
And just like anything you’d like to invest your time and money in, it’s always worth researching and asking for firsthand experiences before you try it.