Bark To School

Category_Dogs Category_Informational Category_Training Writer_Kathryn_Minniti

Sparky Steps - Back to School

Bark To School

I was running some errands over the weekend and felt a bit nostalgic when I walked past the school supply section. The colorful pens, notebooks, and folders reminded me of my days of back-to-school shopping. Now that kids are returning to their classrooms or to their home-schooled itineraries, it made me think – would you rather be homeschooled or attend a private/public school? Would you answer the same for your fur-baby? I interviewed people in the Chicagoland area to explore the reasons why people self-train (“homeschool”) their dogs or enroll them in puppy classes.



  1. Flexible Schedule
  2. Bonding Time
  3. Inexpensive

Training your puppy on your own gives you the power to create your own schedule. Last minute work delays or a lengthy commute won’t cause you to miss classes. Training at home also gives you additional bonding time with your pet, and let’s not forget about the cost. Self-training may be for you if you are on a tight budget. The only expense needed with self-training are treats! Social media, YouTube, and even libraries allow you to access additional training resources for free. My first interviewee is a Chicago resident, Vanessa Aguirre, who has some advice for the people trying out self-training for the first time. “If you are actually going to make time for the training, then give it a shot! Worst case is if it’s not working out, you can always enroll your pup later. My biggest advice is be patient and stock up on lots of treats!” The key to successful training is to be patient and hold yourself accountable. If you are a procrastinator, investing in puppy classes may be the motivation you need.


Puppy School

  1. Socializing
  2. Hidden Behavioral Signs
  3. Accountability

Attending professional classes immerses your dog in an unknown territory with new fur friends, scents, noises, and people. It can be a very nerve-racking experience, but it can be a safer environment near professionals rather than in the streets. I reached out to an owner of a training school to get feedback from a professional. Rendy Schuchat, owner of Anything is Pawzible, has been training puppies and dogs for almost 17 years. I asked Rendy what she wished more people knew about dog classes. Rendy said, “Living in Chicago, we are faced with lots of distractions on the street. A group class helps you replicate those common distractions with a group of individuals that are all working towards the same goal – to have a well-mannered pooch. Classes help build the relationship with your dog as they learn paying attention to YOU is the most positive thing they can do which will build your dog’s confidence and yours!” Anything is Pawzible is located in Chicago, which can be of assistance to the readers here at Sparky Steps. Your dog trainer also has an eye for catching signs of bad behavior before they become apparent to you. If you are a new dog parent or if you haven’t been fully trained in dog-training, you may not know that certain signs from your pup could lead to behavioral or other issues. After speaking with a professional, I wanted to interview someone with a successful dog-training story. Kate McCarty took Mario (pictured below) to dog training classes in her hometown. Kate made an excellent point about how dog training isn’t only for your pup to understand and obey you, but for you to understand your pup. “It has not only helped my guy Mario, but it’s also helped me better understand him and the behaviors of other dogs. Just like people, not all dogs get along with each other, and school has helped me become aware of the signs that can occur when certain dogs meet and how to properly handle the situation so that no one gets hurt…” I have been fortunate enough to have a family dog during the majority of my life. While self-training is a very rewarding experience, I will probably sign my future dog up for dog classes. Why a change of heart? Patience, and socialization. I do not have the patience my mom has. Training a dog is 110% patience and holding yourself accountable. I honestly don’t see myself training my dog on my own. I can see my procrastination setting in already. Also, dog classes allow your fur-baby to meet unknown faces, smells, dogs, voices, and other elements that my current dog does not get to experience as much. I love my dog, Mia, and she is a very loving dog, but I am not confident that she could handle walking the busy streets of Chicago. She is used to being around my neighbor’s dogs in our backyard and that’s it. I think a few socializing classes would have gone a long way for my girl. No matter which type of schooling you choose for your fur-baby, the key to successful training is patience and routine. You will have an extremely difficult time with any type of training if you do not have the patience nor the accountability to keep up with training.

Be sure to comment here or share your dog training photos on Facebook or Twitter! #SparkySteps #SparkySchool


Written by Kathryn Minniti

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published