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Discussion Starter #1
My puppy was removed too soon from its litter mates, so it didn't get full benefit of socialization with its siblings. As a result, the puppy is frightened of new people and other dogs. It seems that puppy kindergarten is in order to help rectify these problems. I have two choices: One is Petsmart which is fairly close by and the other is a regular training/boarding outfit.

Any opinions on Petsmart basic puppy training and socializing?
 

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I have not personally been in a Petsmart training, but there's been a lot of discussion here about it. And it sounds like it can be hit or miss. It all depends on the trainer(s) in your area and their experience.

In addition to the comments you will get here, I would recommend that you go and observe a training class at all places you are considering before enrolling. That way you'll have an idea on your comfort level with the trainer and classes.

I agree with chuck - Socialization is very important for your puppy.

Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Sugar was taken from her litter at 5 weeks. She was a gift so it wasn't my decision to take her so early. The breeder was apparently trying to raise some cash for christmas. She's a bit over 10 weeks now. I've tried my best to socialize her, but it's a bit isolated here so there is not much opportunity to meet and interact with other people and dogs.

It came home today when I had a guest over to see how she would react. She whined and wet herself. Not good, so something needs to be done.
 

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Benedict was taken from his litter at six weeks. However, he adores people, just not other dogs. He shies from them, even the tiniest ones.
I'll be considering training in the future, but I'm thinking about sticking to dog parks and dogs of people I know.

In the meantime, why not find a bench at the park and allow your puppy to become desensitized to people and dogs walking by? Soon it'll be -- no pun intended -- a walk in the park.
 

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Calipso This really bothers me when a breeder lets the health and temperment go to the way side just to get money for christmas We had a litter that was sold and I even held pups for 2-3 weeks before christmas. This is the exact reason there are pups like yours that have socialization problems. I rarely let pups go before 10 week so that a person like yourself doesn't have to do the work that I was here to do myself. Good luck with you little guy
 

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Originally Posted By: JennyJenBenedict was taken from his litter at six weeks. However, he adores people, just not other dogs. He shies from them, even the tiniest ones.
I'll be considering training in the future, but I'm thinking about sticking to dog parks and dogs of people I know.
Just be careful with this. I go to different dog boards and am always reading horror stories of strangers' dogs attacking or bullying other people's dogs and puppies and then they have to spend months re-socializing their dog and spend hundreds to pay for a professional behaviorist. It goes the other way too: some people are not too happy that their dogs are being used to socialized fearful dogs. It can do a lot of damage both ways. IMO, the best way to work with a dog that already has fear issues is under the guidance of an experience professional, in a controlled environment.
 

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I think for young puppies and socialization, as long as the other pups are about the same age, Petsmart is ideal.

But for the future training, I'd be keeping my eyes open for something with trainers with a bit more experience and background than normally found at Petsmart.

Just continue to bring your puppy out and about without completely overwhelming it. Bring lots of treats and toys for reassurance and comfort. And if you have to go slowly, use distance to get more puppy calm before pushing it in a situation that may be just a bit too much. You can't avoid scary stuff, but you also don't want to push the puppy into a frantic FREAK OUT with an overload of sensation. So while a loud siren on a police car driving past me on the sidewalk may be too much right now for a puppy, maybe if it's a street over the puppy will be just fine.

And don't necessarily reassure and baby a puppy when they are uncomfortable in a new situation, that can backfire and make the puppy think they were right and that WAS really terrifying. If instead we can igore the scary 'whatever' and go on like normal. Then the puppy will start thinking 'um, if Mom's ok then it must be ok and I'll just go sniff over here at this yummy old piece of gum'.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm not expecting Petsmart to do any serious training. I'm just looking to correct the socialization issues. I've made it a point to ignore potentially scary events so that the puppy will hopefully learn to ignore them as well.

I had a strange incident today where the puppy saw an upright vacuum sitting in the middle of the room. The fear response kicked in once again. I was able to calm the puppy by mock playing with the vacuum while sitting on the floor. Sugar's curiosity final kicked in and she came over to see what I was playing with. She even gave it a couple of nips and then lost interest in it when it didn't respond. I think her fears can be addressed successfully if she just gets some controlled exposure.

Under no circumstances do I reinforce fear responses thru comforting. I walk over to whatever is causing the fear and interact with it in a calm manner while the puppy watches.
 

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Sounds like you are doing the right thing with her fear/ socializing but she still should go to a professional training facilitiy where there is structure. And do go and observe ahead of time as a previous op suggested. This is a really imprinting stage in your pups life and you should make sure you are doing the right thing for her, which from your posts seem like you are! Good luck and enjoy her innocence:)
 

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I think you should go and observe the puppy class in Petsmart first, to see for yourself. That's what I did when Buddy was 10 weeks old, and I didn't like it there for one reason. The class was held directly in the store, in a small place between the food containers and pillows for dogs.
They can't possibly play together, because you have to worried they ran away.:) And there was no space.

Some other Petsmarts have a special room for training, which is fine, I think.

We are taking training classes, which are held in a big spacious room, so the dogs can play around together too. It is very relaxing, because we also need the space to try stuff with them.

So I would go and check around. Where do you live, maybe some people can recommend something good.

Good luck!
 

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Quote:I had a strange incident today where the puppy saw an upright vacuum sitting in the middle of the room. The fear response kicked in once again. I was able to calm the puppy by mock playing with the vacuum while sitting on the floor. Sugar's curiosity final kicked in and she came over to see what I was playing with. She even gave it a couple of nips and then lost interest in it when it didn't respond. I think her fears can be addressed successfully if she just gets some controlled exposure.
I think you are going about her issues in a very smart way. YOU approaching the 'scary' thing, showing it's ok, and allowing the puppy to approach and also realize it's ok. The more times this happens, and you are right (to the puppy) that the scary thing isn't scary, the more the puppy will continue to look to you and follow you and allow you to make the decisions so she can be calm and happy.
 

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Ava left her litter at 5 weeks as well. I did Petsmart AND another place. If you can afford it, I do not think you can get out and about too much. Ava grew into a friendly dog but has horrible dog/dog skills. She just never learnt to play properly.

I HATE dog parks. ESPECIALLY for puppies. More often than not you get uncontrollable dogs and ignorant owners. I have heard way too many horror stories.

When Cooper is 6 months he is going to do doggie daycare one day a week. It is with a trainer that only takes like size, like age, small groups.

I could not do Petsmart with Cooper because all their classes only had one or two dogs in it.

The Humane Society is highly reccomended in tis area. The puppy class conflicted with my work schedule but I am sign up for the novice when Cooper is 4 months.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I called the Petsmart and they offer an 8 week course for $109 which seems typical for a puppy kindergarten in this area. I may start her this weekend.

Sugar has very good dog-to-dog skills once she gets comfortable with new faces. It's seeing someone new (dog or human) that freaks her out and causes her to panic and wet the floor.
 

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I took my dog to petco for training.They sub there training out.The trainer gets all the money you pay.The guy that was the trainer I talked to and trained my dog works for a security firm and trains dogs for this.He has 6 dogs at home and has classes at his house but there for advanced training.He was approched my petsmart before he worked at petco.He sat in on some training classes there.At the end of the training the district manager came up to him and asked him what he thought.Well the girl that was there trainer was 19,doesn't have a dog.Petsmart schooled her for 6 months to become a trainer.He said that there training program is doomed if this is all you need. I would stay clear and look into petco if your going that route.Talk to the trainer I got lucky he raised GS and Boxers and new the breed well.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well it looks like I scored big at petsmart. As it turns out, the weekend trainer is a full-time military dog handler/trainer who moonlights on the weekends at petsmart.

No surprise that Sugar was not happy about being dragged into a shopping center surrounded by strangers (both dog and human). However, after an hour or so, she started to settle in somewhat. There's still a lot of work left, but she has made a good start.
 

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As a former trainer for PetSmart, I will tell you that it is purely hit or miss on the quality of the trainers. As for socialization, if that is all you are looking for, I would tell you that it is ideal. The shear number of dogs that go into the store make it great.

The big thing to remember is make a positive event. Lots of praise and rewards.
 
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