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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our puppy is due to whelp any day now, and will come home about 8 weeks after that. We're doing lots of reading, planning, and preparing. One concern we have is the puppy kindergarten classes available in our area. I've looked in the phone book, and there are no private dog trainers that do puppy K classes. We do have a Petco and a Petsmart, both of which have puppy K, but my concern is that, as far as I know, both are very treat oriented. We've been reading the Monks of New Skete puppy book and really like the praise-based approach. I have to wonder if part of these chain stores' motivation for using treats is to SELL TREATS. I don't want to go thru a puppy K class and then have to retrain the pup to respond only to praise without treats. But I know socialization is crucial, so that's our dilemma.

Can we find other ways to socialize our pup? There are a couple of enclosed dog parks in town. The one near our house is fairly quiet much of the time, but the other one is very popular and often full of dogs and owners. We go to playgroups and homeschooling groups at playgrounds quite often, so plan to bring the puppy with us much of the time so he can be exposed to lots of kids, and possibly other dogs. We could go to Petsmart/co just to hang out with the dog's that are brought into the store. We plan on following the basic training guidelines in the New Skete books, so training definitely WILL be happening from day one. Our puppy is a Gordon Setter, which is a bird dog, and we've found a local club for birddogs that hosts field trials and training seminars starting at age 6 months. We plan to become active with this club.

Does this sound like enough? Can we skip puppy K if we visit the classes and just don't care for their methods/teachers?

Thanks!
 

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Can you try and find a private puppy k class in your area? Or a dog trainer that does puppy k? I just started apprenticing a dog trainer in my city, she does Puppy K classes very often. Try calling some trainers and ask, even if they dont do it themselves, they may be able to point you in the right direction.

The treat based approach can work beautifully, if done properly. Its really worth it to find a trainer you like and respect, so look around a bit.

Dog parks arent a good place to socialise a dog... Some people never take their dogs to dog parks. Just too many unsocialised, troublesome dogs (and owners!!) there sometimes.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply, Edlyn's mom! I will call around. There don't seem to be a huge amount of trainers here, but I'm sure it's worth a try. I'll probably go observe classes at the two stores as well.

Would love to hear some more opinions on treat-based training!
 

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We found our dog trainer by asking at the local 'mom & pop" pet store/feed store. The trainer we used does not advertise, but his classes are always full! He was awesome!
 

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Our friends took thier rottie to petsmart puppy k, and were really pleased with the classes.
They did clicker training so I believe the intensive treat use was just at the begining. We were just at thier house last night and I was really impressed at 5 months how good he is with his commands and overall how much he has calmed down from being a small puppy. He didn't jump on me or my husband, wasn't trying to mouth us constantly, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Kerlowyn, we have a local feed store like that. I'll ask there/look for flyers.

peridot, that's good to hear about Petsmart. I suppose we could work at home with praise. I know I need to go observe the various trainers there, since that can make a huge difference.
 

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From what I've heard, the quality of trainer is kind of a crap shoot at the big chains. Maybe ask on the tribal areas for any suggestions. Also I work at a dog daycare, and we also have trainer come in and do classes. So call aorund to boarders, day cares, vets, sporting clubs, anyone for recs.
 

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3boobykins here are links for AKC and UKC obedience clubs:

http://www.akc.org/clubs/search/inde...bed&display=on

http://ukcdogs.com/DEclubs.htm

Most clubs offer puppy kindergarten or can point you in the right direction. The instructors at the clubs are typically very dog savvy people that have put numerous titles on dogs, not just some joe schmo getting paid minimum wage that or may not know what they are doing.
 

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Answering your question on treats: don't worry. You'll use BOTH--treats and praise--and a good trainer will advise you to fade out the treats as the behaviors are firmly set. Treats really are fabulous to provide an instant jackpot or to mark a desired behavior, and you signal the achievement of the behavior with praise as well. Food is also a potent motivator--some dogs just don't respond to praise as well, or even feel uncomfortable with it, so praise on its own doesn't encourage them to repeat the behavior. Food--or a ball, or a tug, or whatever motivator really turns on the dog--may.

Remember that the Monks are working with shepherds. I really do think that their methods are great, and encourage anyone to read the books, but shepherds are a tightly bonded breed with a great deal of motivation to repeat things just for recognition and praise. If the Monks were raising Afghan Hounds, the books would be completely different.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by APBTLuv View Post
3boobykins here are links for AKC and UKC obedience clubs:

http://www.akc.org/clubs/search/inde...bed&display=on

http://ukcdogs.com/DEclubs.htm

Most clubs offer puppy kindergarten or can point you in the right direction. The instructors at the clubs are typically very dog savvy people that have put numerous titles on dogs, not just some joe schmo getting paid minimum wage that or may not know what they are doing.
I second this advice - I'm a member of a local UKC affiliated training club, & we always offer lots of intro type classes, as well as more competition oriented ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow, thanks EVERYONE for the great advice/links/resources. And it's good to hear that there's not a problem with using treats. I will definitely check into the various kennel clubs. We plan to do field trials and possibly show our dog, so those will be great connections to have.

I LOVE the pet forum!
 

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I second what Johanna said about treats+praise--absolutely. But I really dislike the Petco/Petsmart classes I've seen, especially for large dogs, and wouldn't bother with them. I'm not sure what breed your pup is going to be, but my off-the-cuff advice would be to start with the training yourself and see how you do, and tackle socialization by getting into a doggie day care puppy play date situation, if you can find one.
 

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My experience with them has been that they are very anti-big dog and that the instructors aren't properly trained. It's often chaotic, doesn't have the level of control I'd like to see, and I've seen them recommend the use of tactics and devices I'd consider unnecessarily harsh and not useful (i.e. choke chains). Again, YMMV, that has just been my experience.
 

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PetSomething classes are totally a crapshoot. If you get a really good trainer moonlighting at the store, you'll get a great class. If you get a cashier who took a little extra class and is now training dogs, you'll get a bad one. In my area, there's one PetWhatever trainer that's GREAT and a ton that are mediocre.
 

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Quote:
I've seen them recommend the use of tactics and devices I'd consider unnecessarily harsh and not useful (i.e. choke chains). Again, YMMV, that has just been my experience.

I see those assinine haltis but I have never seen choke chains at petsmart or petco, they are PP/clicker trainers. I am curious why you feel chokes are harsh and unecessary?
 

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Our former dog, Chance, was a big leash puller, and a giant dog, so he was hard to walk. When we first got him, he dislocated my shoulder. At our first training class with him, which I was thinking was PetCo but retrospectively it wasn't, so you are probably right them not using chokes, they told us to use a choke. We tried that. He just ended up pissed off and with no skin on his throat. It was a cop out. When we got a real trainer who taught us how to actually train the dog, we leash trained just fine without cutting off his air supply.
 

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Quote:
they told us to use a choke. We tried that. He just ended up pissed off and with no skin on his throat. It was a cop out. When we got a real trainer who taught us how to actually train the dog, we leash trained just fine without cutting off his air supply.
Sounds like you were not using the choke right.
 

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I can't stand choke collars mainly because it's hard for a petsomething trainer to really know how to use it and show how to use it. Also there are much gentler ways to go about training - successfully!
 
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