After 1 year of being in Petsmart training I finally feel like I’m prepared to talk about all that went into this year of dog training. Countless hours and hundreds and hundreds of dollars later; it’s time.
To give some background I have never owned a dog. My dad is extremely allergic to dogs and all growing up it was never an option to have a dog live with us. So needless to say I was clueless when I got my own dog. You can read more about that in my blog post about getting her. I got Riley on a Sunday and Monday morning I was aimlessly wandering Petsmart with my dad trying to find something to take the pee smell out of the carpet when I ran into Bryce, the dog trainer for my store. He said he had a beginners class starting that night and the rest was history. Riley has been in a training class every week since I got her.
Petsmart Beginner Training
This was a puppy/beginner class so people were in it for all different sorts of reasons and because of that we all had to go around and say why we were there. People talked about something their dog did wrong and needed to work on while others were just like “it’s a puppy it needs training”. When it came to my turn I almost started crying because I just said “I want to be better for her.” Which was the truth. From day one I knew she was a good dog but I had no clue what I was doing.
Other than me being an emotional wreck, the class was also difficult for Riley because she didn’t like dogs. Like at all. The people at the humane society told me she was bullied in her last home; another reason I knew I needed to get her in training ASAP. She spent most of the class trying to crawl on top of me in an attempt to get away from the other dogs. We spent most of the beginner class just trying to figure out how to be around other dogs in a semi confined space.
By the end of this course, Riley was able to sit and go down with hand motions. She was also much more confident being with other dogs and by the end was even kind of friends with some of the dogs in the class. I could see a playful side coming out.
**Also want to throw out there that I was sending her to the day camp at PetSmart 1-2x a week to get her used to other dogs in a controlled environment as well. I think that made ALL the difference.
Petsmart Intermediate Training
This was the first class I had my dad join me. I found that other than me, he was the one spending the most time with Riley and therefore he needed to know what we were working on and why we did them.
This class focused on something I didn’t really understand: heel. We spent time learning how to “heel” and different commands while in heel like turning left and right or sitting when we stop. This class was filled with commands that were really cool but I personally wouldn’t use that often. Our trainer has a dog (not too surprising) that knows every command and it’s awesome to see how a dog can learn the commands and implement them but we didn’t spend each week practicing everything; we just spent time on those we felt were important.
Petsmart Advanced Training
This class was all about strengthening things we had worked on in the previous two classes and in the end, prepare you for the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test. We practiced many commands with duration, distraction and distance to remind the dog that in all scenarios to only do what we said.
By the end of the class we did take the CGC but unfortunately didn’t pass on our first go. The weirdest part was that the section we failed on was the walking. Riley started biting at my calves which she had NEVER done before and the trainer came to the conclusion that I was probably nervous and she could sense it. Even two classes later we haven’t taken the test again but I want to make sure she does pass at some point because it is more official than the certificates PetSmart hands out!
This was my absolute favorite class we took. It was really fun to be able to see all of the things I was able to teach Riley and she was able to learn! There wasn’t any pressure in this class – if she never knew how to jump through a hoop that wouldn’t impact her overall behavior.
We started the course by picking out tricks we wanted to learn from a list and each week our trainer would go over how to teach that trick. It was kind of difficult to practice every single trick we learned because each class we were learning 2-3 tricks and the intention was for you to just work on the ones you really liked.
By the end of this class Riley knew how to do patty cake (give right, left and both paws), jump through a hula hoop, (kind of) chill or bang, (kind of) ring a doorbell and she strengthened things like down/sit with only a vocal command.
This was a class I always wanted to make sure I got Riley into. After a few months of knowing her I knew she just brought so much joy to people. She has such a smiley face and she is very appealing as she doesn’t bark. I knew that eventually I would love to be able to take her to visit the elderly in homes or kids in the hospital (She loves kids so the later would probably be her preferred option)!
This class was mainly centered around how you, the human, interacted with people who interact with your dog and how your dog reacts to different situations. I spent a lot of time taking Riley to different places she hadn’t been and seeing how she reacted. I took her to my office, to different restaurants and dog friendly stores like Michaels and Home Depot.
In the end, I’m not sure she’s quite ready yet because she is still pretty young and excited but I think in a few years once she’s calmed down she’d make a great little friend to take around and visit people. I am really glad we took this class because it really made me realize how to interact with people to set her up for success.
My closing thoughts on training is I wouldn’t have done it any other way! I tell every person I know to take at least 1 class at Petsmart because I know that it made a huge difference for me and my dog. A lot of people have different opinions on dog training but I always loved that there was 1 hour each week that I was dedicated to her and working on something together. Now we have a lot of fun showing off the things she can do!
Has your dog done training? What was your experience and was it worth it? I’m so curious so please head over to my Instagram and let me know!