This should never happen! - Page 2 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 10:01 AM
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So glad this poor dog was saved. A good story and a reminder just because people are affiliated with animals does not mean they are kind or knowledgeable.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 12:30 PM
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Petsmart training is doomed from the start, and that's coming from someone who works at one of their grooming salons. I'm continuously frustrated with the "trainer" we employ. I get that they're handed a book that outlines the same purely positive (not allowed to say no???) method that they have to follow every time for every dog. The company doesn't seem to understand that dog training is not copy & paste. "Working with the dog in front you" doesn't exist there, and it's frustrating. We get plenty of problem dogs in our salon who are supposedly "in training" with our trainer, and it's very clear to see where the confusion and conflict comes from in these dogs. They're getting all sorts of mixed messages because of the outright awful reward timing, or just not being rewarded for correct behavior altogether.

There was a time I saw a dog in a private session with our store's trainer. The trainer looked like he asked the dog for a heel (this was inside a separate room so I couldn't hear) and began walking with the dog. The dog was periodically giving excellent eye contact and its loose heel looked really nice. And the trainer completely ignored the dog. Didn't reward for the eye contact or engagement, just kept walking in a circle until the dog became disinterested, broke eye contact and began pulling to sniff the floor mid walk.

This trainer also frequently lays on the floor to talk to the owners while the dog wanders around the room. He also told me I was doing heeling wrong when I was working on a "fuss" around distractions in store. I told him where he could stick his "correct" heeling - same place where he'd find his fake training "certificate." He doesn't come help us in the salon anymore. 😂

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 01:25 PM Thread Starter
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@Spetzio that is discouraging. If they are going to offer training, they need to get someone who knows what they are doing or get out of the training business. A friendís daughter is being trained to be a trainer. I emailed the mom a list of videos to watch and books to read and to be sure to tell her daughter to learn when a dog is more than she is able to handle. I also suggested a few local trainers they should pay to let the girl shadow them for a few years. There is no reason a trainer must be stuck using big box methods.

I think those box stores can be good for socialization with puppies. I did that once with my rescue when the Petco trainer offered me a free session because there werenít enough puppies to hold a class. It was funny, there were three dogs and I spent the hour showing her how I trained my dog and how to read behaviors. She thanked me and said as soon as she became competent she was going to go out on her own. That is half their problem. Once someone learns how to train, they leave.

Our PetSmart has one good trainer who is older and has been doing that a long time. She came to the store already proficient and everyone knows to ask for her when they take a class. Those who donít end up regretting it.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 09:16 PM
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Actually, I have had both bad and good training from PetSmart. The bad trainer was a young man whose claim to fame was owning a bloodhound. There were no other dogs, and he didn't know what he was doing and it was a waste of time. But it got me out with the dog and the dog learned what I wanted for her to learn.

The good training was a lady who showed her dogs in obedience. She had to follow the PetsMart guide, so she couldn't allow prongs, even thought the store sold them. And the one family and their dog probably would have gotten him under control with a lot less fighting. But she did know what she was doing and she did a pretty good job. Because of all the hub-bub there, it isn't the best place to hold a beginner's class. But I did get what I needed out of that class.

I got what I needed out of the lady who body-slammed her GD puppy to get him to lay down, and told me he didn't have the work ethic of my pup, Babsy. too. I normally do. I keep expectations in line, and my reason for going to classes is exposure moreso than reaching training goals. If I find my dog bored, I find a way to make it more fun for them without distracting the others.

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 09:51 PM
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It really is. I'm sure there are some good trainers at petsmart, but I am unfortunately not at a location where that exists. And they are also all unfortunately limited to their book, and while it can work for some, it's absolutely not for every dog. I wish I could say that even petsmart training is better than no training (as it relates to our store only, I'm sure there are more competent trainers at other stores - it's not hard), but with everything I've seen of our trainer, I always recommend against it when people come into our salon asking for help. I try my best to direct them to other trainers I've personally had great experiences with, or know of their reputation through a friend I trust.

Though as you say, the stores are good for training with distractions, so that's a plus! I often work on his heel or engagement in front of the daycamp area we have.
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-23-2019, 09:47 AM
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In our town, one of the lures to me about Petsmart training was the class hours. They offer training sessions on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Sunday afternoons. The "good" training school here only holds sessions on weekday nights ... tough timeslots for a person who works and has to feed the family. So I can see why a lot of people are attracted to the convenient Petsmart schedule and location.

I saw a really good training class once in our local park. 9 dogs widely spaced in the unused end of the parking lot, and they were all calmly sitting. My dog and I walked by, and every dog remained in the Sit. 9 heads turned silently to watch us go by. After all the lunging barking dogs we pass, it was a truly eerie experience! :-) . I wanted to run over and get the trainer's card, but I thought I'd disturb his class too much!
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 09:46 AM
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When we got Wolfgang because of the timing - Petsmart was our only option. We actually had a trainer who wasn't awful - and because we had done a dog club with sasha - we did kind of know what we were doing. We had him there more for the socialization. Now with Marco we are with the local Dog Training club - they are absolutely amazing! I'm so happy that we were able to find them. And they have everything here. Obedience, Rally, Conformation, Agility and flyball. So as long as we are living here, we're going to be heavily involved with them!

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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 01:23 PM
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I've heard from Petco employees that they can actually be "promoted" from being cashiers to being dog trainers -- they have to go to a weekend training seminar to learn how to do their training classes. So the class might be taught by someone who was just a cashier last week.

I don't know if PetSmart is different in that regard, but the local PS trainer I've had a run-in with was flat-out bonkers. At a "National Adoption Weekend" where there were booths in tents in the PS parking lot, she ran up and exploded (yelling) at rescue volunteers when she found out one of our volunteers had recommended our regular trainer (i.e., not recommending PS training). She also was furious that we had our dogs in prong collars and were showing others how to fit and use them as she thought they were abusive (even though PS sells them...?). This was the first and only time we met her. Instead of introducing herself, letting us know about what she could offer, and her background to ask us to consider recommending her -- or even offering free classes to fosters as our other trainer does -- she thought yelling at us was the right approach. The ironic thing is that our rescue's dogs are routinely complimented as the best-behaved of any groups at adoption events -- we don't do those events often, but we actually select really good breed ambassadors to be in the booth. They don't bark or cause chaos in our booth, they've already got basic OB before being up for adoption, and they're well exercised -- she was too upset to notice how much better our dogs were than those of other groups. Needless to say, we decline to participate in anything hosted by PetSmart now -- and warn adopters to avoid their training because of that volatile lady with her anger issues. At minimum, PS probably needs to exercise a little more discernment over who they put in the training position of their stores.
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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Maggie, I had that same chat with another pet store manager who was telling someone that e collars are dangerous and lethal. I asked, then why do you sell them?

I gave feedback to management. I suggested they look closely at their training program because what I saw was a strong example of bad training. They are a big corporation and nothing is going to change until a tragedy happens or they are sued and lose, but if more of us speak up, maybe they will decide to look at their own policies.
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2019, 12:09 PM
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I worked at Petsmart briefly between jobs once and my initial goal was to be a trainer. They require a week long (5 days) training with a master trainer before you are certified, but that is it. The training manual they use is really poorly done.

It depends on the trainer and how much they are willing to learn themselves. But in general I'd avoid Petsmart unless you know the trainer is good or you just want to go to the class to socialize your pup. It's too bad, because even going to a training class as Petsmart is far more than most pet owners ever do for their dog so it shows they are making an effort- and may get some terrible advice instead.

What really bothered me also was that any dog entering the store was mobbed by the women at the salon, which I thought was just not a great idea- some dogs won't like that. I didn't last long at Petsmart- I found a job in my field first of all, but also I just don't have the right temperament for a job where you have to push various promotions, training classes, etc. and have to wear an earpiece around the store at all times, and the whole retail scene just wasn't for me. I am not outgoing enough for that type of work, but it sure was an enlightening few weeks and gave me insight to the pet parent mindset.

Edited to add: the main issue I saw at Petsmart was treatment of the small animals sold there. Please don't buy any critter from Petsmart, it's horrible watching a poor creature shipped all the way from California suffer and die slowly in the back rooms...

Last edited by Saco; 06-25-2019 at 12:29 PM.
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