Best Obedience School for Dogs in the US

Whether you've just recently decided add another family member to you home or have had your puppy for a little while now, a smart next step would be to bring your pet to best obedience school for dogs. Dog owners know that puppies, like children, need training and discipline for their own benefit.

Enrolling a young pooch into a good obedience class that will gently but firmly train your new family member to be a good listener and follow directions is vital.

But no one dog is the same. Some canines are easily trained and with persistence from their owner can promptly learn the basic commands such as sit, stay, roll over, lay down, and shake.

However, even with the most intelligent dogs, not every owner has the time or the patience to teach a new puppy (or an older one) new tricks and that is where best obedience school for dogs comes in handy.

Does your puppy actually needs to go to best obedience school for dogs?

Most likely the answer to this question is yes. However, if you're positive you can train your dog yourself at home, here's some help for you:

Ultimately, if you have a new puppy, to avoid them developing bad habits which you'll regret later, it's recommended to start training the young dog around the age of 8 to 12 weeks. However, even if your pooch is older, it's still never too late to look for training them obedience and, if necessary already, correcting their already poor behavior patterns.

“It’s important to remember that puppies are like little kids. And like little kids, they're uncoordinated, easily distracted, and gentle,” says Steven Applebaum, president and director of Animal Behavioral College.

RELATED: Interview and Dog Training Tips From Dr. Roger Mugford

Dog Obedience Training for Puppies in the US
Providers and Most Popular Schools

Dog Obedience Training for Puppies in the US

1. Best Obedience School for Dogs Among Pet Stores

Most of the big pet stores will offer obedience classes at their stores. Those are considered a decent way to go but very few would label name as the best obedience school for dogs. Nevertheless, it's still a great place to enroll your pooch for training. Here are two examples:

PetcoPetco obedience classes for dogs

Petco is a good option to consider because they have licensed trainers available to answer any questions and have a wide range of obedience classes available at all times. Normally, you'll be offered anything from Puppy Training 101 classes to Senior Citizen Dog classes. Petco specifically offers both group lessons and private lessons.

Depending on how your dog interacts with others, a private lesson may be more effective. Not only will they train your dog in obedience, but they will also offer potty training classes and leash training classes, which are some of the most basic and essential things a young dog should learn.

“You want a trainer who is open to whatever breed you walk in with. Your trainer should be creative and innovative and encouraged to succeed no matter what,” says Pamela Reid, PhD, CAAB, vice president of the Animal Behavior Center at ASPCA Animal Health Services in Urbana, Ill.

PetSmart obedience classes for dogs

PetsmartAnother pet store that offers obedience classes in their stores is PetSmart. They provide a wide array of teaching ranging from puppy training to advanced training with each class lasting 6 weeks. PetSmart also offers private lessons if those would be better suited for your dog.

One thing you will notice when comparing PetSmart vs Petco in terms of obedience training is that Petsmart does not offer a complete package of training classes. You would need to purchase each basic training class separately. Then if you wish for your Fido to learn a variety of different tricks, that is another separate class as well.

Big pet stores like Petco and PetSmart are in this for making big money, so their somewhat expensive classes broken down into multiple training sessions so as to charge owners more shouldn't surprise you. Nevertheless, while definitely not the best obedience training school for dogs in the US, PetSmart or Petco are still a good choice if you can afford them and ensure that those particular stores have dog experts and trainers with solid credentials.

RELATED: 9 Resources on Leash Training Dogs

Explore Doggie Day Cares and Boarders

2. Explore Doggie Day Cares and Boarders

Even though opting for obedience training offered by pet stores is definitely an option to consider, it can get expensive. Therefore, dog owners should remember not to overlook their local Doggie Daycare Centers and Boarders as an option for best obedience training school for dogs.

Most dog daycare centers offer decent dog training and a chance for your puppy to interact with other canines. It’s a great way for your young and inexperienced puppy to learn to socialize with animals around them while you are at work.

These local dog daycare center will be cheaper, have great staff and can definitely be a contender for the best obedience training school for dogs title. But most importantly, your puppy will be receiving a lot of caring attention and training there because the owners of those centers are more involved in the process due to the small size of the business.

RELATED: 5 Most Common Problems with Crate Training Dogs

Best Obedience School for Dogs Among Animal Shelters

3. Best Obedience School for Dogs Among Animal Shelters

Your local Humane Society center and other animal shelters might offer similar obedience classes as those mentioned above, as well as a helping hand in the training your new and young furry pal for an even cheaper price.

Some animal shelters can be good obedience schools for dogs that not only teach your canine how to listen to commands, but also teach you – the owner – on how to interact with your dog. Will you meet once a week with a certified dog trainer for the period of 6 weeks.

Additionally, there is also homework involved to practice what you have learned in class. This is one (cheap) option that most dog experts would highly recommend when wanting to build a stronger relationship with your pet. It's a great way to spend time with your pet and get to know people from the dog care industry.

RELATED: Dog Trainer Interview on Training Dogs with Electronic Collars

AKC Can Suggest You Best Obedience Schools for Dogs

4. AKC Can Suggest You Best Obedience Schools for Dogs

The American Kennel Club also offers their own obedience training classes. If you are a member of the AKC, then you should definitely get in touch with them about training your new dog. They usually list training schools that are truly good for dogs, with professional trainers, no use of dog training collars and only clicker training.

AKC offers puppy obedience classes, basic command classes, canine good citizen classes (a program to reward dogs with good manners at home) and even a special training class for dog competitions.

This is an excellent choice if you want your dog to compete in any of the popular AKC events.

For those interested in attending dog training classes for competitions, according to AKC's website your Fido is eligible if:

– Registered with the AKC
– Listed with the AKC Purebred Alternative Listing
– Listed with the AKC Canine Partners program
– Be a Foundation Stock Service (FSS) recorded breed
– 6 months of age or older.

That being said, if you can qualify for competition training classes from American Kennel Club, and this is something  you're interested in pursuing, it's absolutely worth it. Your dog will learn all the necessary and additional commands, and you will develop a very strong connection with your canine.

Remember all those stories about military dogs and the soldiers they serve with? Dog experts say that it's a perfect example of the strongest dog-human connection because of the time spent together, and the work done alongside each other.

So don't be afraid to explore this opportunity if you can afford the time and the cost. Here are some links to help you navigate quicker:

RELATED: Interview with Dog Training Tips for Train Your Dog Month

Checklist for Choosing Best Obedience School for Dogs

Checklist for Choosing Best Obedience School for Dogs

  • Talk to other dog owners, ask for referrals. Dog obedience training classes is a big and still growing business, so there are a lot of options available (good and bad). Best way to start is asking around. Speak to dog owners where they took their own puppies, where the experience was good or bad. Additionally, spend enough time online researching best options available in your local area.
  • Visit multiple places before enrolling. You must always go in and take a look at the place before signing the check. Talk to dog trainers there, possibly other clients and see how their obedience training programs work in action. Dog enroll in the first one you go to, unless you're absolutely certain that it's actually the best obedience school for your puppy.
  • Confirm their credentials. A school can have multiple dog trainers on staff. Learn who will be spending time with your pooch and check their credentials. All good and certified dog trainers will have something to show for their experience. Try not to fall for any sales pitches or charismatic personalities. Stay objective and ensure that your dog likes the trainer too.
  • Check for red flags. Once you walk into the place and go see obedience training in action, look out for potential red flags. Those include but aren't limited to dog trainers yelling at dogs, forcing them or hitting them. Every best obedience school for dogs must ensure a safe, humane, and enjoyable way for dogs to learn obedience commands. No dog should suffer during this training.

RELATED: Interview with Tips and Tricks for Family Dog Training

How to Pick the Best Obedience School for YOUR dog

How to Pick the Best Obedience School for YOUR dog

Consider different options, first and foremost. Weigh pros and cons.

Aside from the ones listed above, there are many other options out there to help with your pet's training. Some of the more expensive obedience schools offer individual classes where a dog trainer will come to your home or any another location.

You can choose between daytime or nighttime classes, group or individual, laid back or aggressive training, and so forth. It's important to ask a lot of questions before enrolling and know exactly what works for your dog.

“Socialization with other dogs, as well as humans, is an extremely important component of a dog’s development into a positive member of the family and a good citizen of society,” saysLouise Murray, director of medicine at ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York [source]

READ MORE: Agility Training For Dogs – The Ultimate Beginners Guide

Dog training school tips and adviceFind ways to spend time with your puppy during training. The key for finding best obedience school for dogs is to focus not only on a good class by an accredited dog trainer, but also the one that will provide you with a chance to really bond with your pet.

Dog experts recommend for first-time pet owners to spend as much time with their puppies during training, and then take whatever you learn in a class and implement it into your regular home routine. Relationship between you and your dog is directly related to how your domesticated animal will react to your commands.

Learn how to give commands by yourself. When dog owners are asked which obedience training classes they prefer the most, majority said that it's not the ones where dog owners are left to do whatever they want but classes that teach dog owners themselves how to interact with their pets.

Furthermore, note that best obedience school for dogs will show not only your pet how to be obedient to commands, but also teach you how to communicate those commands. You must be able to give commands firmly and gently so your dog will listen to you specifically, not just the trainer.

Consider your dog's personality. Take some time to get to know your dog and get advice from your veterinarian and/or experts at a best obedience school for dogs of your choice. You want to make sure that the class will fit the personality of your dog.

Some dog breeds – and even individual dogs – simply cannot be trained in group classes, so private training is the only option. Other dogs require a specific temperament of a dog trainer, and will also respond better to some dog trainers and not so much to others.

Consider your own needs, too. Regardless of where you decide to take your dog for training, dog obedience classes will not be very cheap. Aside from that, you must coordinate your own schedule with these classes not only drop off and pick up the dog, but also for the times when dog trainers want to have you there with them during sessions.

After you consider price for value of either one best obedience school for dogs, and realize that you cannot afford any obedience training classes for your puppy in any of the best obedience school for dogs, you can always do this yourself (and ASPCA very much encourages for dog owners to train their own dogs).

Make sure to do enough research beforehand, read a few good dog training books and scan Top Dog Tips website for more training and dog care advice. Many dog owners have trained their puppies themselves with great results, so you can do that as well!

“There are no bad dogs, just bad owners. There’s tremendous truth to that,” says Applebaum.

Finally, remember that dog obedience training is one of the best relationship boosters between you and your Fido. It’s also a great way to get your pups to engage with strangers and other dogs if you choose to go for group classes. As most dog owners will tell you, this is an investment you will not regret if you make the right school choice.

READ NEXT: Are Dog Grooming Schools Worth It?

Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs - Tarzan and Loki - in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.