A few weeks ago my lovely wife enrolled our puppy in beginners training at PetSmart (shop smart, shop Smart). It has been many years since we owned a dog, and she really only learned one trick, to crap outside. And I think she learned this on her own. When my lovely wife brought home the new puppy (Gimli) we discussed training and decided to have much higher expectations. Yes, a dwarf can be trained.
I have to say that I had a lot of misgivings about paying someone to walk us through training our puppy. In my imagination I expected dog training to go like this… I would drop off Gimli on Monday and pick him up after a few weeks, and magically he would be fully trained. Of course this transition would happen with little or no effort on my part. I viewed this like sending a spoiled kid to a military academy. Spoiled brat goes in, gentleman comes out.
PetSmart training isn’t like this at all. They don’t train your dog, they train the owner. Then the owner trains the dog and the dog gets all the credit. The class was about an hour long each Saturday for about six weeks and included homework. I won’t get into how much this cost, but it was so worth it. We went in with a puppy that knew only one trick, crap outside (most of the time) and came out with a talented little pooch that is almost pathetically eager to please.
As a disclaimer, I also have to say that my lovely wife did most of the actual training. At home we make a pretty good team, not so much like Good-cop bad-cop, more like good cop, and not so good cop. He did learn a few tricks, but more importantly his behavior changed from obnoxious little shit that thinks he owns the world, to obnoxious little shit that has some doubts. This is a huge step forward.
He graduated last weekend and got a certificate and a photo wearing a stupid hat. I was jealous because I couldn’t be there, not just because of the silly hat.
Although we were encouraged to progress to the graduate level courses, we decided that he will continue his training at home. He knows the necessary commands like leave it, take it, sit, stay, come, etc… But he needs work on some commands that I hold dear to my heart, like Shut up, go away, stop it and leave me be. This is not on the graduate level curriculum. I have no illusions that these commands will probably be changed by my lovely wife to something less useful, like shake hands and roll over, however it can’t hurt to try.
In the end the idea is to develop a well behaved little pooch that we can proudly present to our friends.
So thank you PetSmart, for training my lovely wife and I how to train our pooch. Even though Gimli got to wear a silly hat and get a certificate we felt that we learned more.