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New Year, New Tricks; Get Your Dog Schooled at PetSmart | Pets

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New Year, New Tricks; Get Your Dog Schooled at PetSmart
Pets
New Year, New Tricks; Get Your Dog Schooled at PetSmart

Atlanta - If your list of resolutions includes finally getting Fluffy to stop chewing on the couch, peeing on the carpet or barking at the ceiling fan, then some training classes may be the solution.

But can you teach an old dog new tricks?

“Yes,” says Jason Smith, operations manager at PetSmart’s Midtown location. “You always can teach an older dog something new, but sometimes it takes a little longer depending on how stubborn the dog is. You may have to start at the beginning like it’s a new puppy, but yes you can train it.”

PetSmart offers training courses “on different days and different times of the week to try to fit everyone’s schedule,” says Smith. Participating dogs and their people attend classes one day a week for six consecutive weeks. Three levels of courses are offered: Puppy (for dogs at least two weeks and less than five months old), Beginning (for dogs more than five months old) and Intermediate (for dogs greater than five months old who have completed the Puppy or Beginning course). All dogs must be current on required vaccinations.

“Both the Puppy and Beginning classes teach basics like sit, stay, come when called, basic manners,” says Smith. They also provide instruction on loose leash walking—“you should be able to drop the leash and walk and the dog walks beside you,” he says. Common tricks like shake are also included in the curriculum.

All PetSmart dog training classes are led by certified instructors (the Midtown location has two such folks) who aim instruction at the actual student: “Our classes are different in that we try to teach you how to teach your dog instead of us teaching your dog,” says Smith. Working with a group has benefits. “There are more distractions,” admits Smith, “and there are going to be distractions in the real world. If a car is coming and you call for your dog to come, you want to be confident he’ll listen even if there are distractions.”

While group classes, which average eight dog and owner pairs per class, are most popular, individual instruction is also available in a one- or four-hour session. This is a great option for dogs who will not behave during group classes or have specific issues that need to be addressed.

What most drives people to seek training for their dog? “Uncontrollable barking,” says Smith. “We spend a lot of time on that.”

But resolving the barking situation is not the classes’ most difficult issue. “At the end of each class we present a certificate of completion to our graduates,” says Smith. “We also take photos of dogs wearing little graduation caps. The hardest part of the class is keeping those hats on the dog for the picture!”

PetSmart Midtown is located at 650 Ponce de Leon Ave. For more information call 404-872-2363 or visit www.petsmart.com

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