Why We Wanted Training
If you’re familiar with my site you know of Laverne’s fear of other dogs. If you don’t then here’s a link that’ll give you a quick background of her and her problems.
In a nutshell I was hoping to get her more comfortable with other dogs, and have some general obedience of course. I read somewhere that basic training can help anxious dogs build confidence and lower their anxieties, and that’s how I decided to give training a go. I just hat to decide where…
Why We Chose Petsmart
If I’m being totally honest Petsmart was not what I was initially imaging. However, I did a lot of research and reached out to a few self-employed trainers even and everything was either to expensive or not what I was looking for. Buuut mostly it was the expensive thing.
This left me with Petco vs. Petsmart. Here’s what I learned, they’re pretty damn similar. The only potential difference I discovered was Petsmart has a strict positive reinforcement only training style and I couldn’t get a definite answer about Petco’s training style, there were too many mixed reviews online. Plus I liked the trainer at Petsmart better and their classroom.
We went to the one in Lakewood (Colorado to be specific incase you don’t already know we’re a CO based site) on 1st and Wadsworth. Maybe my negative pretenses with Petsmart had to do with the fact it’s adjacent from one of the worst Walmarts in Colorado, it’s like they have a batman-symbol in the sky for all the worst, rudest people to come there. Anyone who’s been to that one knows where I’m coming from.
Any who, the trainers name was Rachel (shout out to Rachel, Laverne misses you) she was friendly, knew what she was talking about, Laverne ADORED her, knew how to accommodate Laverne being a dog afraid of dogs in a class full of, yup, dogs, and she was optimistic that with some serious work Laverne could improve. So we immediately signed up.
The classroom is in the middle of the store and felt big and airy. You can choose from a few different times to sign up as your day and time of the week to meet once a week, you come that time every week for six weeks and you’re with the same people who signed up for that time slot every week. Which made things nice so I didn’t have to go through the whole, “hi my dog is a neurotic freak, don’t worry she only sounds like she wants to eat your dog but couldn’t actuall hurt a fly” spiel every week.
But you know me; I can’t just leave out a bunch of important details. The briefer is just for you impatient readers, now for a few more details.
First of all Rachel was a gem. She is well educated and experienced in her field, cracks corny jokes (I love corny jokes), VERY patient, not judgy at all (sometimes I feel like trainers judge me for not having her better trained, I’m only human people have some understanding), she is a real life dog whisperer (I swear dogs would do commands for her before they even knew the commands, which really just made you feel inadequate when your dog would ignore commands when you said them ha!), she really got to know each dog as an individual along with what does and does not fly with them, and she was a pro at dividing her attention and giving everyone one on one time. As you can tell I was a big fan of her.
They cost $119 for each class although there was a sale going on when we signed up for the intermediate class so we only had to pay $89. Score! The price is pretty reasonable compared to most other training classes.
Oh and as you can see in this photo, you get a painfully cute photo of your dog in a graduation cap. If you don't find that fantastic I don't even want to know you.
Now for what you’re all wondering; did it help? To that I say, define help. Is she, “cured"? No. Has she made a lot of growth? Yes! Even in the areas she still needs work, I now know what to do and how to handle it instead of getting frazzled which is the opposite of what I should do.
She’s still weary of other dogs but less-so, she still whines in the car, on walks, and when she’s excited in general but SO, SO, SO, much less, and she’s even better about being brushed. Not to mention she obviously knows all the basic commands, which has made her more obedient in general. This all being for a dog with anxieties and was over the age of 2 (the further you get from being a puppy, the harder it is train them) she did, and is doing fantastic.
Rachel warned me it’d be a few years probably before she truly makes a big change and the fact that she’s already making strides in the right direction is fantastic.
All in all I was very pleasantly surprised by our experience and our results. My advice would be don’t write off Petsmart like I almost did. Go to your nearest location, meet the trainer on staff and go over your goals and best options (they have private classes too) and then make your decision. And if you have the opportunity to go to Rachel at the Lakewood location, do it.
Here's their link in case my excessively long article was not enough information - Petsmart Training
Let me know your thoughts!