At the first class (the one without dogs), there were these two kids (somewhere in the 7-9 range, I think) who were being total nuisances during the entire class. They took up at least a quarter of the class time asking the most inane questions. They played in the kennels. They ran around the training room. They swung from the gate. One of them kicked me accidentally because he was fidgeting so much. Their father didn’t say anything to any of this.
Now Onyxx is a little fearful around kids due to past history. I told the instructor so during that class. She said it would be good socialization for him. Well it’s good socialization if the encounters are positive. Which I didn’t think these would be.
One woman told me after class that she was going to call the next day to complain to the instructor that the kids were disruptive and taking up too much of the class time. I didn’t get a chance to ask her if she did or not but it was clear that I was not the only one who was frustrated with their behavior.
Fast forward to the second class. I was already stressed out because I was feeling a little ill but I decided to go to class anyway. The kids zeroed in on Onyxx (small + fluffy factor). They followed me around, giving Onyxx commands and telling me that I was giving him too many treats. And trying to pet him while I was training with him before class. We retreated to a corner and I told the kids that he was shy but they followed us and continued.
They were doing the same to another dog and the dog’s owner told them that in order for their dog to listen, they (the owners) had to be the ones training and giving commands.
During the off-leash socialization time in the class, the instructor told me I could put Onyxx in one of the kennels. Onyxx is five pounds and the smallest dog in the class. There is a mastiff mix in the class that is close to a hundred pounds. There is no way I was going to let him play with strange dogs much bigger than him. (Note: I’m not opposed to the idea of big and small dogs playing together while supervised. Mr. N’s best friend is 70-something pounds but I know that dog and his temperament). Even accidentally, they could hurt him.
Onyxx was not fond of the kennel idea and was vocally expressing his displeasure. I was trying to quiet him down when the kids came over again and made comments about how Onyxx really doesn’t like being in the kennel and I should take him out of “jail” repeatedly. I was a little worried that they were going to let him out. Their hands were perilously close to the latch.
So I told them that Onyxx was not their dog and that they should leave him alone. The kids’ father came over and told me that I should not to be rude to his kids and to take it up with him if I had issues. To which I replied that they were being rude to my dog. He huffed and went over and told his kids that they should stay away from me. Mission accomplished.
I probably could have been more polite but I was just utterly fed up with these kids. There were many more things I could have said like: Well if you taught your kids how to behave, then other people wouldn’t have to tell them how to behave.
And it’s not just the kids. Their dog peed on a coat and tried to attack another dog. I will be the first to admit that my dogs are not always perfectly well-behaved. But I try. And if they are disruptive, well then they lose privileges or have to leave.
Towards the end of the class, one of the kids asked the instructor if by the end of the six weeks, all the dogs were going to be as well-trained as Onyxx. We were quietly practicing tricks in a corner (Onyxx’s current tricks: sit, down, come, stay, jump over, wave, shake, high five, roll over, play dead and spin) while the instructor explained NILF (Nothing in Life is Free) to give Onyxx something constructive to do instead of barking. He gets really excited around food and starts barking in anticipation. Or demand barking. I’m not quite sure which. Aside from that though, he was doing everything perfectly and some bonus tricks to boot.
The instructor replied that it depended on how much they practiced. Yes, it does. And rewarding good behavior and teaching him what is not acceptable behavior and that there are consequences for bad behavior. Which are universal lessons for kids and dogs!
What do you think? Do kids belong in training classes?