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Marvin's mummy
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Discussion Starter #1
So we have been training our 4 1/2 month old pup, Marvin, at home and using tips from this forum, youtube training videos, and some books we have learned so much AND so has our puppy!! He is very well behaved (generally, he's a puppy and definitely has some.. moments.. which is understandable!) and he knows a lot of the basics - sit, stay, lay down, shake paws, high five, roll over, and is getting very good at loose leash walking but gets the zoomies at the beginning of the walk. He also looks at us for the "okay" to eat after we put his food down which is great and very respectful for when we are at houses with other dogs who are eating around him.

We thought we'd try and take him to a puppy class at Petsmart since we had a discount coupon and thought that for the initial puppy stuff we didn't need anything too serious yet and he would get to socialize with crazy pups his own age while learning some extra things with us. oh NO.. we were wrong. Our trainer is pretty awful and I feel terrible about even bringing him there. She was manhandling all the puppies in the class who are 3-5 months old and NONE are the traditionally aggressive breeds. She is very short and rude to the owners of the pups... and she had the nerve to pick up my puppy and pin him to her chest! And he doesn't like being picked up so he was squirming and getting a tiny bit mouthy (probably because she had him pinched under his "armpits" which she said was dominance, yelled at him and pinned him!!! Oh man .. I wanted to pounce on her. Her dog is not a very well trained, loud, snarly australian shepherd... and when any of the puppies approach her dog to sniff it, she grabs them by the collar/harness and sends them flying across the training floor! a tiny little lab puppy! WHAT! And she started lecturing me about him having a 4' lead instead of 6'... and made a big show out of replacing my leash with hers for the rest of the class. And said that I have taught him wrong because I am not training the way that she is... but he is doing amazingly well and even does the commands during class when she says them. So I think I did well?? I use hand signals when I first teach him something but slowly move to verbal commands and she said I need to do verbal right off the bat. She also makes lots of sexual type jokes whenever the pups start sniffing or kissing each other. It's very unnerving... so my fiance and I are outraged at her behaviour (and failure to structure her classes around the premade schedule) and feel our money is being completely wasted because he's been doing better at home! And I don't like her using these dominance tactics on these puppies who are not even displaying dominance! She also spends the first half hour of the hour classes telling us horror stories about what she's heard others' dogs eat and how they died or have permanent issues... and I'm definitely sick of her bragging about her dog who isn't very well trained in my opinion.

Oh my goodness... it took all we had (my fiance and I) not to march back to Petsmart and punch her in the throat for putting her grubby hands on our baby! I just can't stand the way she treats the pups (not to mention how rude she is to the people) in the class and I feel as though we are learning nothing, perhaps even reversing his learning by being there. We are going to talk to a manager and hopefully:crossfing get our money back. I would say we would switch instructors.. but it doesn't seem like they know what they're doing. The dogs that graduated a class that day were not very well behaved and were jumping and barking and attacking each other... so I'm not sure that Petsmart training is very effective
We talked to a couple with a pup in the nearby park who said that they've heard bad things about her and signed up with the other person. We eventually want Marv to get his CGC next summer or fall when he's a bit older and I think we need to find a new training place. For now, it's back to socializing in the dog park (we have a good one near us, no worries!) and doing what I call youtube training. GAH! Anyone have experiences like this?
 

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AKA: Joyce
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7,442 Posts
I'm sorry that was your first experience, classes should be fun! I would have snatched my pup away from her and called corporate from that very spot but that's just me and I'm a bit grouchy these days :)

Seriously though, meet other trainers until you find a good fit. Classes are good not just for learning but also for building the bond even stronger.....as long as it's fun.
After what my dogs have been through I lose my mind when I read about people like her!!!

Good luck, don't give up ♥
 

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Tucker's Human ~ Melissa
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817 Posts
As others have said - file a complaint with the store and ask for your money back. There is no excuse for that behavior. Good luck!
 

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Definitely report it to corporate, get a refund and don't go back!
We found an amazing trainer at the MSPCA near our town. Thor learns a ton in each class, so do we, and the trainer is super respectful of the dogs and owners, and understands when a puppy just isn't ready for more or needs a break. None of that nonsense about dominance. You might research if there is a facility near you.
On a side note, even with a good trainer don't expect a puppy to behave perfectly after 6 weeks of classes. They do learn a lot and respond to your cues much better but they are still puppies with the impulse to play and sometimes bark in exciting situations. The maturity level required to control that without prompting all the time is still in the works at that age.
 

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Premium Member
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Talk to management. Let them know what's going on and ask for a refund. Don't go back to that trainer. Find someone better.

That is a nightmare.
Exactly what I was going to say. Please report her to the store manager, and get a refund.

Check around your area for some independent trainers, and then go and observe some classes before signing up. I am positive you can find one you like.
 

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We ran into one of those. $150 down the drain. If we had stayed in class, I'm sure there would have been more than $150 in training to fix. It was a beginner class and she had her dog running around off leash. Seriously, she knew nothing about the dogs in class and let her 6-pound dog run around them. Her dog did not even get away when she told him to.
 

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Weird. That sounds JUST like the trainer at the Petsmart near my house! She has an Australian shepherd too that barks/growls/LUNGES at any dog that walks by! It's scary! I have never taken classes there, but when I was shopping for some things with my puppy she immediately came up and asked if I was taking classes. Didn't bother to pet or say hi to my puppy(weird for a petsmart employee not to do that). I said yes. She asked where and when I told her (It's at a facility 45min away) She was like why? That's far! How much is it? Sheesh. Do you live around here? That's so far! Then she continued to be very rude as if she was trying to make me feel dumb or something? Like I was an idiot for driving 45 min for dog training? Idk. I almost said "well good trainers are hard to come by and I wanted a good one." ;)

I'm so sorry you had to experience this. I hope you get your money back! There are a lot of bad trainers out there unfortunately. :(


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I had a similar situation with an All Breed Obedience Club here in my city, that trained just a short distance from my home. The last straw for me was when I saw this abuser pick up a young girls small dog by a choke chain and pull the dog to his waist by the chain. The little girl was screaming in agony to her Dad and I cornered the Dad later and said we need to report this! I actually went and reported the abusive trainer in person to the animal cruelty authorities and the investigator told us she'd had several complaints about that same trainer. I also made sure to tell our veterinary clinic and suggested they not refer anyone to this training club. Long story short, our vet clinic started hiring independent trainers to teach classes at the clinic and that trainer left the obedience club after a few months. This club requires prong collars or choke chains and uses harsher techniques than I think necessary for any dog, especially Goldens, and dogs with abusein their past. They offer discounts to rescue and shelter adoptive families and it just makes me cringe.

On the other hand, we used Petsmart for one of our dogs and had a wonderful experience! Go figure!

We are using the trainer our vet recommends for Yogi and it's been a fantastic journey.
 

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I'm sorry that happened to you. I always caution folks away from PetsMart training classes because they are "accredited" by PetsMart itself, which to me makes no sense at all. I would definitely file a complaint, ask for my money back and look elsewhere.
 

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Luna and Lily's Dad
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491 Posts
Wow, what a nightmare. If someone tried to manhandle my puppy, I would have a lot of trouble keeping myself from going ballistic on them. I would absolutely file a complaint and try to get money back from the store. If the store refuses to refund, I would take things to corporate and demand a refund there. There is no excuse for this kind of "training".
 

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Mercy Miracle (M&M)
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Oh my!:eek: What a horrible nightmare! How dare she be so critical of the puppies! What were some of the other breeds there besides the Lab puppy? She should not be a trainer!:mad: Where did she get her credentials?:uhoh: She's a hypocrite calling your angel a troublemaker when her dog has aggression problems! What were some of the reactions of some of the other students? I am so sorry this happened to you dear.:( How dare she have a cirriculum in which babies are thrown around, slammed and uneccessarly corrected!:mad:

I had a Petsmart trainer and she was nothing like this! I found her believe it or not through the AKC website as I was looking for an AKC CGC instructor/evaluator. Vicki Rizzo is awesome! She helped me and Mercy very much. I got my CGC through her. She oversees all the trainers at the Northern Virginia Petsmarts except for the Gainesville location who has it's own stellar instructor. The Manassas Therapy Dogs crew used this other trainer in Gainesville for their training.

I pray you find another puppy class that will suit you and your puppy. Try looking for a S.T.A.R. puppy class through the AKC. These classes are great! Mercy and I went to one and it was wonderful!
 

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I have no idea how you kept yourself from grabbing your baby and slapping her. Or decking her for that matter! That is no way to be holding a baby! Of course they're going to get upset about it. Every day I deal with having to mold my handling skills to patients that are nervous, hurt and in some cases simply not wanting to be messed with/actually aggressive. While I often have to be firm in my grip, it is not correcting or hurting. Merely restrictive. Puppies are horrid wriggles, get super excitable. What would anyone expect?! e.e

I always tell people to avoid those kind of classes myself. I have no actual experience with them, only experience with the trainers deciding to work client dogs around mine or my roommate's. Using random people who could potentially have reactive dogs (mine aren't, but my roommate's can be leash reactive in buildings at times) to try and... well honestly I don't know what more they're trying to do than use us as a distraction. An unplanned for one at that! Not good when first trying to help a client get their pet to focus, especially in the kind of situation with narrowed places to encourage a trapped feeling!

I literally had one trainer walk a dog INTO Myles while he was calmly sitting at my side, waiting for me to pick out some cookies. The woman who was near him had two cavaliers. One that was with her and relaxed, and a younger more excitable one that figured the guy holding her leash wasn't worth the attention he wanted. ;) He had a good five minutes of time to see me down the aisle. And still he walked this woman's dog right into mine and almost walked into me himself! He mumbled a sorry and they skirted toward the little training bubble place they have. All I could think of was just how lucky he was! Myles is extremely non-reactive and very dog friendly. All he did was glance down at the cavie like, oh hello little dog. And never once broke his sit. All I can think was, what if it had been someone with an excitable or reactive dog? Even if it wasn't aggressive reaction, it could still land with a smaller dog getting hurt. x.x

You guys definitely should report it with that store, and corporate, demand a refund and find something more reputable! That kind of behavior she's exhibiting... I'm surprised that she would be working still at a place that's supposed to house pet lovers. :/
 

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Marvin's mummy
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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies and sharing your experiences with training. It was nice to see that I am not crazy and that it was not a good way to treat pups. I was also happy to see all the good experiences you've had in training. Gives me hope! :) I agree that class is supposed to be fun for the owner and puppies! And I didn't find that at Petsmart. On the bright side, the manager saw this forum post, called me and personally apologized and refunded our money and offered half price classes if we wanted to switch trainers. We opted not to continue taking classes there but we appreciated that they took the time to consider the issues that were taking place with this trainer and I hope that they would look into it but I am pretty sure that she is going to continue training there and doing things her own way.

We were referred by friends to Crossroads Canine Academy for classes and we have called there and set up a viewing. It sounds like a great place with experienced trainers, a professional facility and gentle techniques along with clicker training. There is also a daycamp there that includes grooming, obedience lessons, swimming, etc. and it sounds like a great place for Marv. We are thinking that we may wait and start him there early next year and work on some training exercises at home in the meantime while I am still doing online classes for my degree.

I'm definitely happy to have gotten a refund and though I doubt that any of my concerns about the trainer will change how she trains or change the training staff at that location, I'm happy I was able to bring these concerns up and discuss them with like minded people and with the management at the store. I am not discounting Petsmart training... because I know that some of you had good experiences there and that's awesome! We did too at the puppy orientation with a trainer that no longer works there. I guess it is luck of the draw and compatibility and I could not foresee continuing classes there because of what I did experience.

Marvin has been learning some new things at home and we've been utilizing techniques from Kikopup's youtube channel which has been a tremendous help. We are currently working on "leave it", "drop it" and fetching. He fetches.. but he doesn't like to let go of it afterwards!! haha, eventually he comes around and gives it to us or nudges us to throw it again. He's been great at socializing with other dogs and he sits for others and waits for them to smell him and get to know him when he enters a new situation. We're really proud of him and though we know the teen months are approaching we will keep practicing and working on the basics as we go along. :crossfing
 

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Marvin's mummy
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Discussion Starter #20
Oh my!:eek: What a horrible nightmare! How dare she be so critical of the puppies! What were some of the other breeds there besides the Lab puppy? She should not be a trainer!:mad: Where did she get her credentials?:uhoh: She's a hypocrite calling your angel a troublemaker when her dog has aggression problems! What were some of the reactions of some of the other students? I am so sorry this happened to you dear.:( How dare she have a cirriculum in which babies are thrown around, slammed and uneccessarly corrected!:mad:

I had a Petsmart trainer and she was nothing like this! I found her believe it or not through the AKC website as I was looking for an AKC CGC instructor/evaluator. Vicki Rizzo is awesome! She helped me and Mercy very much. I got my CGC through her. She oversees all the trainers at the Northern Virginia Petsmarts except for the Gainesville location who has it's own stellar instructor. The Manassas Therapy Dogs crew used this other trainer in Gainesville for their training.

I pray you find another puppy class that will suit you and your puppy. Try looking for a S.T.A.R. puppy class through the AKC. These classes are great! Mercy and I went to one and it was wonderful!
Thanks Mercymom!! I personally don't think she should be a trainer either and I question where she learns some of these tactics. It's nothing I've ever seen from a trainer or anyone for that matter. I think that there were not enough breaks for the puppies, the unstructured environment was unnerving, and her unexpected picking up of the dogs was unwarranted. I don't like training tactics that require me to hold and pin my dog to my chest - GR boys are usually around 80 lbs average so that's not a good method for us! Never mind the fact that we don't want to be physical in our corrections with him because we emphasize positive reinforcement.

The other breeds with us in the class were all about 4-5 months old. Border collie, shihtzu, spaniel and the other random dogs from people in the store that may or may not have had their vaccinations... :mad: and could have potentially been dangerous or aggressive... :no: (e.g., senior german shepherd, pug, the seven week old lab puppy, along with others that randomly flitted in and out of the class). And her dog, which wouldn't interact with the puppies and she wouldn't let the puppies get near him.. so what is the point of having her dog there exactly???

I'm glad you had a good trainer there!! The other trainer seems better than her but I have a bad taste in my mouth with this store. I've never had problems with any retail store before now and it is getting to be ridiculous. At our puppy orientation we had an amazing trainer running it and she was gentle and nonphysical with the pups. She taught us amazing tips and tricks that we still use today that are incredibly useful in our training with him. I wish I could find out where she works now. My cell phone got stolen at the orientation so that was frustrating enough. Probably shouldn't have gone back after that but I wanted to give it a second chance.

Oh well, luck of the draw. Definitely depends on how and where the trainers were educated. Thanks so much for your reply. :)
 
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