Petco vs PetSmart Training: Who Comes on Top?

Petco and PetSmart, two similar companies with similar training goals offer a series of advantages to the dog owners.

Regardless of the way you choose to educate your dog, there are some certain differences between these two stores that need to be comprehensively discussed for evaluating each training session.

I’ll try to explore several topics such as what does my pet get from Petco vs PetSmart training? How does my dog behave during the classroom training at Petco?

Which is better, Petco or PetSmart? What are the pros and cons between these two? And finally, let’s draw a conclusion on which is better than the other.

Round 1 – What To Expect? 

Petco and PetSmart dog training differ in the style of approach they use while training your pets. When you are seeking a dog trainer, it makes sense to choose a trainer with whom your dog will have a good communication.

What can you expect from PetSmart? Is PetSmart training good?

Puppies between the ages of 10 weeks and 5 months old can enroll in a class at PetSmart. Obedience training, puppy socialization, and handling common puppy misbehaviors are all included in their program. Methods of positive reinforcement form the basis of their curriculum.

As of recently, PetSmart has added a Stress Less program, a three-week course for dealing with anxious puppy behavior.

PetSmart’s trainers have to pass an internal exam to earn the company’s certification, which amounts to a formal endorsement. Although I have met trainers at PetSmart who have a CPDT-KA from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, this is a distinct credential.

I would recommend Brain Training For Dogs because the trainer is CPDT-KA qualified and the program is based on force-free training methods that rely on positive reinforcement.

What can you expect from Petco?

There are two tiers of puppy training available at Petco. Puppies between the ages of 2 and 4 months old can enroll in either the 6-week long Puppy Level 1 or Puppy Level 2 sessions. Obedience and socialization are taught in the first classes. Positive reinforcement is used in these techniques.

beagle puppy with pink basket standing on the grass

Furthermore, Petco provides a Separation Anxiety Course for Puppies. This is a four-week course that costs $99.

Trainers at Petco must not only pass the company’s own certification exam, but also the exam administered by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and Evaluators (via the American Kennel Club).

Darris Cooper, the company’s National Dog Training Manager, is Professional Dog Trainer-Certified – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), Animal Trainer (Fear-Free), and Good Citizen Evaluator for AKC Canine. 

Round 2 – Training Methods

So, which is better, Petco or PetSmart when it comes to training methods? What do these two schools have in common?

Positive reinforcement theories form the basis of the curricula at both establishments. Yet, the store’s instructors may occasionally use their own judgment in determining whether or not you receive a discount.

You should help ensure that the trainer you have has a firm grasp on how to effectively use the positive reinforcement program that they will be teaching for queries students may have.

Because of this, before enrolling in a course, I always advise students to inquire about sitting in on a class taught by the instructor.

Petco, however, decided in October 2020 that electronic collars were inhumane and hence no longer sold them in their stores. This, along with Darris Cooper’s Fear Free certification, demonstrates an interest in and commitment to using reward-based training techniques.

Round 3 – Offered Training

Basic commands such as wait, down, sit, wait, walking calmly on a leash, arriving when summoned, and leave it are all taught at both Petco and PetSmart.

Both of these can assist with the most frequent problems seen with puppies, including as housebreaking, mouthing, and jumping. They both provide opportunities for interaction with others.

It’s crucial to reinforce positive behaviors in young puppies, and Petco’s Puppy Class Level 2 does just that.

They also provide the Puppy S.T.A.R. test developed by the American Kennel Club, which serves as a great incentive to train your dog. The goals of any dog-handler team preparing for the Puppy STAR test are as follows:


  • Helps the puppy stay healthy
  • Gets a “Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge”
  • The owner will be able to elaborate on a reasonable routine for everyday play and exercise
  • Owner attends the minimum number of classes required for an AKC registration, which is 6
  • Owner has received some type of identification for puppy (collar tag, etc.)
  • Owner brings along bags in each sessions, for tidying up after their dog
woman training her dog on a blue yoga mat


  • Zero hostility toward others for the duration of the first six weeks of instruction
  • Zero hostility toward the other puppies in the litter.
  • Accepts any form of collars or harnesses
  • Puppy’s owner can cuddle and pet the animal (depending on size)
  • Toy or treat is removed from puppy’s reach, and he or she is content.
  • Allows being petted by someone who is not the owner
  • Grooming — Permits owner to perform a quick check (ears, feet)
  • Straight-line walking when being led by an owner (15 steps)
  • Walking on a leash past pedestrians 5 feet away
  • Sits when told to; owner may bribe with food if necessary
  • Owner may use food as a “down” command.
  • At owner’s call, sprints the five feet to him or her.
  • Distraction Reaction: Distractions are introduced from a distance of 15 Feet
  • Stick close to another individual at all times

The basics at PetSmart, include the following:

  • PetSmart uses rewards to teach dogs basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “go.”
  • Once these foundational skills are achieved, the trainers at PetSmart will move on to teaching the animals individual commands.
  • It will become clear to the dog that there is a unique reaction for each order.
  • PetSmart’s trainers will make sure your pet follows all the basics of good behavior around the house.
  • The canine will also have a clear understanding of who is in charge and what’s expected of them.
  • When properly trained, your canines will have a keen eye for gauging the state of their surroundings, following specific instructions, and sifting through debris to locate a lost object.
  • In particular, they will make their owners’ lives simpler by reducing the need for constant leash and harness use.

What happens beyond the basics?

Training, as we know, is a continuous process. You want to know what’s next for you and your dog after puppy training, and that’s why you’re researching dog-friendly places.

PetSmart is the clear victor in this aspect! It is worthy to note, though, that Petco has expanded their selection of training options as you will see below.


  • Adult Level 1 – Have a better communicative relationship with your older puppy or adult dog. Duration: 6 weeks
  • Adult Level 2 – This course introduces you and your dog to be comfortable and perform better within advanced training scenarios. Duration: 6 weeks
  • Separation Anxiety Course – In this course, your dog will learn to form healthy habits, as well as empowering you to teach your dog how to manage on their own. Duration: 4 weeks
  • On-site Private Sessions, such as bringing your pup to a Petco dog training in Wood Dale – These can be customized to address your dog’s training requirements
  • Online Sessions for Groups
  • Individual Online Sessions
woman giving treats to a dog while training


  • Beginner Training Sessions – Introductory course for basic manner and impulse control, walking with loose leash walking. Duration: 6 weeks
  • Intermediate Training Sessions – Fundamental cues, which include distance training, managing distractions. Duration: 6 weeks
  • Advanced Training Sessions – Training for speedy responses to cues, advanced heel, and managing distractions. Duration: 6 weeks
  • Mental Acuity through Brain Games – Mental simulation, managing hyperactivity, better reception and communication, and improving attention span.
  • Stress Less Training Sessions – For dogs who could be having anxieties. Duration: 3 weeks
  • Dog Therapy Sessions – Learn skills that are needed for dog evaluation in their therapy. Advanced training sessions are required prior to enrolling in this class. Duration: 6 weeks
  • One on one (private) Sessions
  • Online Sessions
  • Trick Training Sessions – Your dog will learn tricks and also improve their communication skills. Duration: 6 weeks

If you want to take your dog’s obedience training to the next level after the puppy class, PetSmart has classes for that, too. They also provide training for therapy dogs and seminars in which dogs learn tricks and mental games. These are all fantastic ways to keep your dog’s mind active and engaged.

One fantastic service that Petco provides is Canine Good Citizen testing. Moreover, they provide virtual classes for anyone interested. Puppy socialization is essential, so this is not the best solution, but it does allow you to continue training with your dog without leaving the house.

Round 4 – Pricing

How much is Petco dog training? Petco puppy training costs (for 6-week courses) $149. Bear in mind that that this only applies to one particular course (level 1). Taking both Puppy 1 and Puppy 2 together for 12 weeks will cost you $298.

In addition, they have a package deal where you may attend three lessons for the low, low price of $379. The puppy classes can be combined, and another adult class can be added.

For $379, you can obtain from Petco a 45-minute personalized training, an AKC Puppy Star Test, and what’s more, this already offers your puppy a medal and their own certificate of completion.

On the other hand, how much does PetSmart charge for dog training?

Puppy training at PetSmart lasts six weeks and charges $124. After completing Stress Less Training for $79, you can enroll in Brain Games, Advanced, or Therapy Training for $139.

Round 5 – Online Training Options

Online training is available at both Petco and PetSmart. Petco, on the other hand, has a more extensive selection. One-on-one classes are available at both places, but Petco’s are more expensive.

black puppy training how to fetch

Petco’s Virtual Training Offerings

  • The Puppy Basics online group offered by Petco is a four-week crash course in puppy manners, chewing, housebreaking, and more. The 4-week Puppy Separation Anxiety training is also available online for $99.
  • In addition, Petco provides private, one-on-one training sessions. First class is $59 for 45 minutes, and subsequent private lessons are $229 for a total of 8 hours.

PetSmart’s Virtual Training Offerings

  • PetSmart does not host any online group classes, but it does offer one-on-one online dog training sessions for $35. The consultation is your opportunity to get to know your puppy’s trainer, and go through the training plan for the coming weeks.
  • The next step is to spend $126 for four sessions of 30 minutes each with your personal trainer.
  • While there are many benefits to learning online, most methods skip over the critical first step of exposing your puppy to other people and animals. Your puppy will only have a little window of opportunity for socializing between the ages of 5 and 16 weeks.
  • If they don’t get enough interaction with others during this time, your dog may develop challenging behavioral issues later on.

Match Replay: PetSmart vs Petco Training!

Lost in a sea of information? The past sections might have been information overload for you! But fret not, I have drafted a table below so you can make a quick comparison:

Petco PetSmart
Training MethodsPositive reinforcementPositive reinforcement
Offered Training   (Please answer who has more flexible offered program)Adult dog level coursesSpecial course on managing separation anxietyAnxiety trainingBrain gamesDog therapy sessionsAdvanced level coursesLearning tricks
Pricing  An introductory course is $149 (Duration: 6 weeks)An introductory course is $124 (Duration: 6 weeks)
Online Training   (Yes/No)Group online sessions are available at $99, while private sessions cost $59 for 45 minutes of training.1:1 trainings are available online, which cost $45 for 30 minutes. Longer sessions have a discount: 1 hour costs $89 and 4 hours cost $219.

Which one is preferable, then? Each curriculum has advantages over the others, so your decision should be based on your priorities. Much depends on the quality of the trainer available at your convenience store. It’s best to drop by and ask to speak with them in advance before making any commitments.

man training his dog to laydown or stay

We suggest using pet stores like Petco and PetSmart to help socialize your puppy, but then looking for a dog trainer who has been independently vetted if you want to ensure your dog is getting the best possible training.

Overall, PetSmart would be my top pick because of the superior course selection and reasonable prices.

Why Do You Need to Train Your Dogs?

Dogs are a lot like children. They need to be trained, they need to learn how to behave, and they need to be taught how to live in the world.

  • It’s a Good Idea for Your Dog. If you don’t train your dog, it’s more likely that he will end up being aggressive or destructive. A well-trained dog is a happy dog!
  • You Can Be a Role Model. Your dog will look up to you as its leader, so it’s important that you set an example of good behavior by training him well and rewarding him when he does something right!
  • It’s Fun! Training your dog can be a lot of fun if you do it right! There are lots of different ways to train your dog—from simple tricks like sit and stay all the way up to complex commands like heel or fetch—and each one has its own rewards!

Training the Trainer: Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions

Is Petco and PetSmart Dog Training Worth It?

Training your dog through Petco or PetSmart is worth it, because these offer a number of benefits.

First, they will make sure your dog is trained properly. This means that you do not have to worry about the possibility of them misbehaving or doing something wrong.

Second, they will make sure that the training is done in a way that is effective and efficient. This means that there will be no wasted time when it comes to training your dog through training schools.

Thirdly, this helps with bonding between you and your dog. When an animal knows what their owner wants them to do and vice versa, it makes for a much better relationship between them both!

Why Is It Difficult To Train Your Dogs at Home?

There are so many factors to consider. In grooming alone, we have the hardest dogs to potty train versus the easiest dogs to potty train. Is it because we do not emanate enough air of authority to our dogs at home?

happy woman giving a treat to a dog in training

(Oh, now that we’ve mentioned potty, check out this post I wrote on flushable dog poop bags! They sure come in handy!)

At first, it seems like it would be easy to train your dog at home: you have plenty of time, and you’re probably the only person your dog sees all day. But if you’ve ever tried it, you know that training a dog is a lot harder than it sounds.

There are lots of reasons why. First, even though you might be your dog’s sole companion for much of the day, chances are good that your dog has lots of other people in his life—your friends, family members, and other people who come into your home.

These other people may not always be aware of how to understand or respond to your dog’s behavior.

Second, dogs are often very stubborn creatures who can be difficult to get through to. They won’t always listen when you ask them to do something or even say no to them!

Thirdly (and this one is probably the most important), unlike cats who rarely need any sort of training whatsoever beyond teaching them what litter box is, where and how many times per day they should go there (and maybe how best not to knock over their water dish when they do), dogs need to be trained in order for them interact with humans in a way that doesn’t scare others half out of their wits, especially strangers!


Dog training schools offer more than actual dog training. In fact, most of their services revolve around the relationship between you and your dog.

Dog training schools will help both the dog and their owner to understand the way they affect each other. They are able to do this through a set of varied approaches, some will be more comfortable to owners than others, but this is a key step in preserving the bond between owner and dog.

Interested on how to train specific breeds of dog? You might want to head over to an article I wrote on obedience class for German Shepherd. For more tips, tricks, and how you can make life truly happy and meaningful for both you and your pet, keep checking in this corner for updates!

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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