I have a five month old puppy and I am considering enrolling her in a six week training course. It is through PETCO. Has anyone done this and have any input?
We did this class when Spot was about that age. It gives you the basics and social intercation. When we did ours Petco had a dedicated large room for it where most of the class took place. Our Petco has remodeled since and classes take place in the aisles. I have heard that it is not as good as it was.
I did something similar through Petsmart when Mocha was a "baby". I think he was around 5 or 6 months old. I think they are great.
Most dogs will listen to you in your own back yard. Its when you are in public that you want your dog to be very obedient. Public classes such as offered in a petstore meet that requirement, instead of one-on-one private trainers. Basically you are the one being trained on how to train your dog. Its a lot of fun. You learn, your dog learns, and your dogs learns to listen to you around distractions such as shopping carts and other dogs.
The classes are only as effective as you make them. You have to do "homework". If it helps, Mocha went onto several more advanced classes including advanced agility classes. All of mine went through "basic" at a petstore except for Ginger.
And all of them have their CGC except for her.
I think puppy classes are very important for the reasons others wrote above. However, I would be cautious about a puppy class offered through someplace like PetCo. First, is your puppy through all of her vaccinations? If not, I would NOT take her someplace like PetCo where other dogs have been. A local training club or kennel club may be more conscientious about screening dogs that are allowed on their property.
Secondly, cindyandmocha says that any class is only as effective as you make it. I agree with that but would add that it is also only as effective as the instructor. Our last puppy class had an absolutely horrible instructor. We quit going after two or three sessions (and I have NEVER quit a training class before) and several other people quit as well. Fortunately we did get our money back. So find out the qualifications of the instructor.
Finally, there are different approaches to training dogs, as you will find out if you spend time on this forum. Some people believe in positive reinforcement only, some believe in some discipline, some believe in showing the dog that you are dominant. You need to be educated in human-dog interactions so that you can decide if the instructor shares your views or not.
Along the same lines, when in a training class, NEVER allow an instructor to take your dog unless you know EXACTLY what s/he is going to do with it. I know of cases where an instructor has chosen a dog to demonstrate with and has used a technique that the owner is not comfortable with. If the instructor wants to demonstrate with your dog, ask what they are going to do before you hand over the leash.
Everyone has offered very good advice. My sister took her dog to a Petsmart for classes and he did very well. She really liked the instructor and even made a couple of friends there as well. He's a miniature schnauzer and he really enjoyed being with the other puppies as well. It's a very good way to socialize your dog. Fred also went on to another class and he is a very well behaved and well socialized dog today. Maybe just check with your vet if there are any shots you need that you haven't received yet.