Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

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Mayume
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Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by Mayume » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:34 pm

Hey folks! I just wanted opinions on Petco/Smart dog trainers. I hear they are taboo and awful, but I have been hired as one and am excited to begin my dog training journey. Thankfully, I want to do training on a log term basis, and am doing my own research. Petco is my foot in the door.

Let's do an ask/tell.

Ask me anything about my job, or tell me your experiences with these stores/trainers.

JudyN
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by JudyN » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:57 pm

Hello :D

I'm in the UK, so don't know anything about Petco trainers. Are their training methods based on any particular methodology or dog trainer?

Do you/are you planning to get a dog of your own, or would that not fit into your life right now?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

jacksdad
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by jacksdad » Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:31 pm

Mayume wrote:Hey folks! I just wanted opinions on Petco/Smart dog trainers. I hear they are taboo and awful, but I have been hired as one and am excited to begin my dog training journey. Thankfully, I want to do training on a log term basis, and am doing my own research. Petco is my foot in the door.

Let's do an ask/tell.

Ask me anything about my job, or tell me your experiences with these stores/trainers.
because places like petco/smart are often the starting place for many, the trainers are not always the more experienced or still relying on old myths of training because that is all they have ever heard. And that I think is part of why they get a bad reputation. another is whole lot of dog trainers are stuck in the 19th century in their understanding of behavior, learning, and even training. don't be "that person" and you will do fine. and of course client compliance or lack of is also a source of reputations good or bad.

If you really into doing your own research that is a good thing. One thing I would strongly suggest is that you learn "clicker" training. if nothing else it will teach you a HUGE amount about training and how learning works and how reinforcement works or doesn't work and more.

start here
http://www.video.clickertraining.com/CFVEX10KS01

DianeLDL
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by DianeLDL » Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:38 pm

Mayume,

I hate to tell you that our first trainer was at PetCo. We adopted our chihuahua mix at age one year and we were put into a puppy class.

Our dog, Sandy, had never been socialized and although the trainer said it would work, we spent a lot of wasted money.

First, since Sandy wasn't social, we weren't allowed inside the circle with the other dogs and owners. Sandy spent the most horrific time getting so stressed out, that we missed most of what the class was about. At one point, our chihuahua tried to attack a pit bull.

Then,one on one, the trainer taught us the alpha roll which is NOT acceptable here and we wouldn't do it to our poor dog.
Then, the trainer decided that our dog needed a "job" and suggested we get a backpack and put rocks in it to "calm" him down. Sandy only weighed 10 pounds himself so we thought this would be animal abuse.

Needless to say, we lost a lot of money and would NEVER return to PetCo for training. That is why I have gotten much more help from this forum where I learned that alpha rolls are NEVER good. I could have given my dog a spinal injury with a backpack of rocks, and that Sandy's aggression is based on fear. He is not read to be in a room with other dogs.

As a matter of fact, since then, Sandy doesn't go into PetCo or PetSmart or any other pet store if we see just one other dog. It is abusive and puts him in such horrendous stress that it takes a few days for him to calm down again.

So, I do NOT put any faith in any trainer at any of these big box, pet stores.

If you want to be a dog trainer, I suggest you learn Victoria Stilwell's methods and become one of her certified trainers.

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

Mayume
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by Mayume » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:15 pm

@Judyn - Eventually. The boyfriend and I are living in a home we rent with my parents. Currently there are 2 dogs and I've known these guys for years. They're my personal guinea pigs! :) The boyfriend is deaf and he is going to need a service dog soon, so I would love to eventually work my way out of Petco and into Service dog training, and rehabilitation. A new dog doesn't fit into the house now, but when we have out own home I plan to work with the Retired Racers or the shelter to be a foster mom.

@jacksdad - I plan to learn anything and everything I can. Because I am reading a Patricia McConnell book about family friendly training, I understand the purpose for clickers and plan to work them in. :)

@DianeLDL - I'm sorry that happened to you. Those things you mentioned are not in my curriculum, so you either went years back when the training was not positive reinforcement based, or your trainer was awful. Petco is actually a decent company, or, at least my store is. We really do believe in the animal comes first. Again, this is all my experiences with my personal store, but if someone was training and said those things and the GM or any manager heard about it, they would be fired on the spot, because those are not acceptable training methods. We even tell people to try positive reinforcement methods before considering pinchers, choke chains, and shock collars. I, personally, hate that isle. Anyway, eventually I want to move out of Petco and work with service dogs and rehabilitation. I'm not really interested in AKC, I am more family based. I plan to move forward with my training ability, but it also has to be kept in mind that I have to pay my bills, and can't really just move out. I understand you have not had a great experience with Petco, but you can't blame someone for putting their foot in the door and trying to change the way things are. :)

Suzette
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by Suzette » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:02 pm

Although I have never personally used a trainer at Petco or Petsmart, I have talked with many of them when in their stores to shop (they tend to wander the aisles chatting with customers when not in session to drum up business). My personal opinion is that I haven't met one yet that I would trust with my dog. While some of them start of talking a pretty good game, eventually their bent towards punishment based training techniques rears its ugly head (or it becomes clear that they don't really have much of a clue, this is just a job to them, not a career choice). Sadly, I've yet to come across a trainer in these stores that is a true positive reinforcement trainer. (Again, just my experience in the stores in my area over the years.)

BUT . . . you sound as if you have the right attitude about positive training and a desire to be a better trainer than any I have come across there and that is wonderful! I agree with Jacksdad that learning clicker training (if you haven't already) would be hugely helpful. I wish you all the best! Let us know how it goes for you.
My avatar is Piper, my sweet Pembroke Corgi. b. 5/11/11

DianeLDL
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by DianeLDL » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:13 pm

I am so glad about your attitude about training.this happened on early 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The trainer seemed to have the CM focus on being alpha, etc. I am so glad that your store has better training methods. I am glad you are reading Patricia McConnell. She is a great start. I believe that each area of the country and the store manager has something to say about their stores.

I would love to see someone like you at PetCo and teach others the positive way of training. As we have also found when we visit our house in Maine, they are more in tuned with big dogs. Even the vet we saw, tried to weigh our 11pound deer chihuahua mix on a scale for big dogs. Even the attitude in the clinic turned us off.

So, I am glad that it is you who is working at PetCo in your area. I am glad that you will be able to set a good example and promote the healthy and positive methods you are learning. :D

I didn't mean to discourage you from working there, but you did ask for feedback.
I just wish that our experience had been with someone like you, then it would have been a more rewarding experience. :D

Good luck in your career and hope that all goes well for you. They need trainers like you. :D
I have been to Thornton, CO, but I wish you were in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Just down I-25. :D

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

Mayume
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by Mayume » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:03 pm

@DianeLDL - Thank you! I have a friend that does AKC shows and I am even put off to her advice.

"Don't let a dog pass a threshold before you, that's being dominant over you." Not how I view it. If I have a handful of treats, those dogs are eager to get going.

I don't agree with the Alpha way of things. You want to work WITH your dog, not above him.

@Suzette - Thank you, as well!

I had a lady come into my store a couple of weeks ago and she told me her experience with Petco PR training was crap, I asked her who her trainer was and she blew me off. She later came back and apologized. My response to her was similar to, it's all based on the trainer. If you have a trainer that is dedicated you solving your problems and getting to know you and your pet, it will show in their training class. They will spend time with you, get to know you, and not give you generic responses to your issues. The girl hired with me is going to school for criminal justice and this is a filler just for a job, and it shows, and WILL show in our classes. I want to do this the rest of my life. I view my career as stairs, and I am on the bottom step as of now. I want to work in rehabilitation next, because I believe every dog has a fair chance to find a home, even if abused or used as baiting dogs, then work my way to service dogs...After that the sky is the limit.

I'm trying to build connections (Talk to other trainers to see if I can mentor, etc) but I have to be careful because of the contract I eventually sign with Petco.. Hopefully it's not something that is restrictive in that aspect. My AKC friend gave me the name of someone that owns a k9 academy around here but she has yet to respond, it's been about a week.

I like to think I am a sponge. I am jumping in with both feet, and so very excited to do so. :)

jacksdad
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by jacksdad » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:11 pm

Mayume wrote:@jacksdad - I plan to learn anything and everything I can. Because I am reading a Patricia McConnell book about family friendly training, I understand the purpose for clickers and plan to work them in. :)
anything by Patricia is worth reading. some other names to give some consideration to Kathy Sdao, I have learn HUGE amounts from her DVDs, she really does a good job explaining operant and classical conditioning, learning, clicker training etc. she is a former marine manual trainer and that gives a very interesting perspective on things that you don't often get from "just" dog trainers.

Of course there is also Karen Pryer, while she didn't invent clicker training, her book "don't shoot the dog" played a significant role in bringing the concept mainstream to dog trainers.

Steve White, a former Law Enforcement K9 trainer who has crossed over to clicker training. he has very thought provoking things to say particularly about positive punishment and aversive. *spoiler, he explains a lot about them, but isn't endorsing them* And is an enjoyable speaker.

Other names worth checking out, but this is far from a complete list of possible people worth learning from...
Jean Donaldson
Debbie Jacobs
Pat Miller
Grisha Stewart
Emily Larlham (aka Kiko pup on youtube)

I didn't include Victoria in the list only because she targets her "stuff" to the dog owner direct. not that even still she doesn't have something to offer learning wise for a perspective trainer, only that the above names tend to target their "stuff" to fellow trainers and people wanting to learn to be professional trainers.

some additional resources for you
http://www.dogwise.com/
http://www.tawzerdog.com/
http://www.apdt.com/
http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

The last thing I can pass on, do NOT take anything anyone says as hard, unwavering "FACT" to the point you don't even question what they had to say because they had "fancy" credentials. No on is perfect and has it all figured out. Also, older books may not 100% reflect the authors current knowledge, beliefs, feelings etc. they grow too as they gain new knowledge and experience.

MPbandmom
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by MPbandmom » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:45 pm

There are 2 petsmart and 2 petco stores in my area, all 4 within 4 miles of my home. :shock: I don't have any experience with the Petco trainers, but about 6 years ago, I took Petsmart training with my two dogs and it was not a good match for my dogs. One dog took beginner and intermediate and snapped at the instructor 4 times within 16 weeks of classes. The other dog would become overstimulated and just shut down and stop playing the training game about halfway through class. People walking by the enclosure were way more interesting than the repetetive obedience type exercises of class. :lol: The trainer wasn't really dominance based, but did use some older methods like leash corrections. I know another trainer at the other petsmart who goes every year to Patricia McConnells seminar. I met her through an organization called Dog Scouts of America.

Since you mentioned not being into the AKC, you might want to check Dog Scouts out. They are totally positive training based and dogs can earn badges for a wide variety of activities. They have several summer and mini camps around the country, which are a blast for people and dogs. They are also just about the best value for your money as far as participating in fun activities with one's dog. They also have a lot of educational materials to help people train their dogs using positive training methods. Even without having a dog currently, you might want to check them out while you are doing your other research.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

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Wes
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by Wes » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:39 am

Petco mentor trainer here. :) The current curriculum is written partially by Patricia McConnell and in conjunction with Karen Pryor. Not too much clicker training, but definitely using marker words. I'm happy with my job, though there are many in the company I would NOT recommend. Hell, there are many in my district I wouldn't recommend either. I'm hoping to start retraining a lot of the training staff, but our conference calls have me banging my head against the desk a lot.

OnceInAWeil
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by OnceInAWeil » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:01 am

It really depends on the trainer. My first experience with professional training was through a PetSmart puppy class, and our trainer was great. She introduced us to the clicker and used positive methods. I was very pleased with the class, and it helped spark my passion for training. :)

DianeLDL
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by DianeLDL » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:16 am

Wes wrote:Petco mentor trainer here. :) The current curriculum is written partially by Patricia McConnell and in conjunction with Karen Pryor. Not too much clicker training, but definitely using marker words. I'm happy with my job, though there are many in the company I would NOT recommend. Hell, there are many in my district I wouldn't recommend either. I'm hoping to start retraining a lot of the training staff, but our conference calls have me banging my head against the desk a lot.
Wes,

Something needs to be done w/trainers in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our trainer was the one who was supervising all trainers in town, and he was using Milan's method. And he is at University to be a career trainer. He wants to train K9 police dogs. NEVER did he mention clicker, or any positive methods at all. We had him in January -March 2011 & we heard he is still training w/ PetCo here. So, I dont know if Albuquerque has been brought up to speed with the training you mentioned.

This guy also almost lost a group of chihuahuas who somehow got out of the store and ran into a busy intersection. :shock:

Someone really needs to get their trainers on the same page. As has been mentioned, some are good and others are in it as a transition job. But, anyone who wants to make a career needs some serious training with handling all types of dogs before taking on a dog training thing. It would have been better if our chihuahua was with a group of smaller dogs instead of large dogs including a pit bull, i realize that classes come up for whoever shows up, but when he did his one on one analysis, he never mentioned postive methods or clickers. He also told everyone they needed to use a metal chain leash which we did use until working on the forum and researching found that it is much too heavy for a chihuahua mix, even a deer chi who weighs 11.5 pounds now. :shock:

So, we lost a few hundred dollars as they wouldnt refund, and instead were talked into one on one sessions where he had is learning the alpha roll and dominance theory and putting a backpack with rocks on our chi. NEVER was there a mention of using a clicker or even the marking words or even using rewards! :mrgreen: :evil:

So, there are variances and hopefully you and other good trainers can get the word out. :D

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

Mayume
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by Mayume » Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:49 pm

DianeLDL wrote:
Wes wrote:Petco mentor trainer here. :) The current curriculum is written partially by Patricia McConnell and in conjunction with Karen Pryor. Not too much clicker training, but definitely using marker words. I'm happy with my job, though there are many in the company I would NOT recommend. Hell, there are many in my district I wouldn't recommend either. I'm hoping to start retraining a lot of the training staff, but our conference calls have me banging my head against the desk a lot.
Wes,

Something needs to be done w/trainers in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our trainer was the one who was supervising all trainers in town, and he was using Milan's method. And he is at University to be a career trainer. He wants to train K9 police dogs. NEVER did he mention clicker, or any positive methods at all. We had him in January -March 2011 & we heard he is still training w/ PetCo here. So, I dont know if Albuquerque has been brought up to speed with the training you mentioned.

This guy also almost lost a group of chihuahuas who somehow got out of the store and ran into a busy intersection. :shock:

Someone really needs to get their trainers on the same page. As has been mentioned, some are good and others are in it as a transition job. But, anyone who wants to make a career needs some serious training with handling all types of dogs before taking on a dog training thing. It would have been better if our chihuahua was with a group of smaller dogs instead of large dogs including a pit bull, i realize that classes come up for whoever shows up, but when he did his one on one analysis, he never mentioned postive methods or clickers. He also told everyone they needed to use a metal chain leash which we did use until working on the forum and researching found that it is much too heavy for a chihuahua mix, even a deer chi who weighs 11.5 pounds now. :shock:

So, we lost a few hundred dollars as they wouldnt refund, and instead were talked into one on one sessions where he had is learning the alpha roll and dominance theory and putting a backpack with rocks on our chi. NEVER was there a mention of using a clicker or even the marking words or even using rewards! :mrgreen: :evil:

So, there are variances and hopefully you and other good trainers can get the word out. :D

Diane

Oh jeeze. Today I printed out my Dog Training Operations sheet (there are 12 of them) and as far as pairing goes... These classes are NOT made for aggressive dogs or dogs with major behavioral issues! Therefore, pairing should not be a problem based on size, etc. All dogs have to have their vaccinations before joining a class. Then again, these sheets were re-written 08/07/2012. I think all you can really do is go above the store manager if they refuse to do something about him, but like I said I believe the training has changed since you had been to his class, but my store wants me to bring my own 'flare' in training methods as long as I stay within the guidelines. If you think this guy is not a good trainer STILL, something should be done.

I'm so close to starting my training with my mentor I can smell it :) I finished up one of three workbooks I have to do (Small animal finished, still have to work on reptiles and avian) and then after that I am off!! I am so excited!

@Wes! YAY! another Petco trainer. :) Any secrets of the trade?

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Wes
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Re: Petco/Smart Dog Trainers

Post by Wes » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:07 pm

Mayume, just keep reading and researching and question everything. Most of what I learned, I learned on this very forum and applied it to my classes. There's a sticky list of good books to pick up as well I believe in the training section.

Diane, I can bring it up with my DM, but we're quite far away from NM. There should have been a representative from the district (likely the mentor) at Summit this year, so hopefully things have been squared away by now. He would not get away with it in my district, that's for sure.

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