My Dog is Better-Behaved than your Kids


So Foster Pup Onyxx is taking a basic obedience class. He already knows how to do almost everything that the class teaches but I figured it would be good for him to work around distractions (other dogs and people who have treats) and the training would be good for his adoptability. One distraction I didn’t anticipate, however, were kids. There’s never been any in any of the classes I’ve taken with Mr. N so I guess I didn’t really consider the possibility (So I didn’t manage to take any photos. I’ll try next class).

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?





24 Responses

  1. Susan Willett

    January 20, 2014 12:38 pm

    In any of the training classes I've been to, the trainer will only allow children if they sit quietly. You need a trainer who can politely ask the people to not bring their kids. Even if others have complained, you may want to as well; if one person says something, they can ignore, but when others start complaining, too, they have to pay attention. You've paid good money for that class and you're not getting your value due to the disruptive behavior of the children.

    And I think it's kind of obvious how well their dog is going to be trained. Not very.

    I would have said the same things to the kids, BTW. I use it as a training lesson of my own–training the kids that is.

    Good luck with the class!

    –Woofs (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 20, 2014 4:43 pm

      Well one thing that made me hesitant to talk to the trainer initially was that they're letting us take the class for free because Onyxx is a foster. I talked to her after class the second time and she says she'll stop the kids if she sees them misbehaving. She's not very assertive though so I don't think she's going to ask the guy to not bring his kids.

  2. SlimDoggy

    January 20, 2014 1:56 pm

    Too bad you had that experience. I don't think kids belong in those classes unless they are old enough and mature enough to behave better than the dogs.

  3. Roxy the traveling dog

    January 20, 2014 3:32 pm

    Ugh!! I would have lost it. Kids do not belong in a situation like that unless the parent can take control of them. Sounds to me like the dad was in the wrong class. Maybe he needs a parenting class. Perhaps you can ask to go into another class, even if you have to postpone for a few weeks.

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 20, 2014 4:50 pm

      I think I'm going to see how the class goes in the next session and judge from there. As long as the kids stay away from me, we'll be OK. Onyxx doesn't really need extra help (The trainer put it this way. I see he has done a lot of sits and downs), we're just working through distractions. Although he doesn't care about anything else as long as I have food. I just don't want Onyxx in a situation where he gets freaked out enough so that he tries to bite. He never has before and I don't want him to start!

  4. Jen K

    January 20, 2014 4:05 pm

    Oh man. I felt your rage as I was reading that. Your title is something I have uttered MANY times. The Soapbox definitely comes out on this issue. A lot. Unruly children. Not even just in dog classes, but in general life (nice restaurants, etc). Huge pet peeve!
    Unruly children in the vets' office is THE WORST and has happened to me on more than one occasion. I have similarly been rude and abruptly told kids never to pet my dog without asking first (actually, I do this quite often – if they ask, they probably get to pet. No ask = lecture from me) and had parents give me the stink eye and tell their kids to stay away. Too bad they didn't control them in the first place. I absolutely would've lost my crap on that dad who confronted you. I mean, it's nice that he's trying to involve everyone in the dog training, but if the kids are not paying attention and being disruptive, they're not involved and they're hindering the class for everyone. I'd be upset if the dog trainer didn't step in sooner than later on that and would definitely be voicing my dissatisfaction.

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 20, 2014 4:56 pm

      Haha. I wrote it after class and I was wondering if I needed to tone it down. I think the trainer definitely needs to have words with that guy but I don't know if she will. She doesn't seem to be very assertive otherwise she would have cut the kids' questions off after the first few. I'd be even more annoyed if we really needed the class. The trainer came to check on us once and then pretty much left us alone after that.

    • Jen K

      January 21, 2014 5:40 am

      Wow – almost sounds more like a trainer problem than a kid problem in that case – it's too bad she can't keep control in the class. I'd be inclined to complain about that. But I have a short fuse – especially when I've paid money for a specific service. It's good that Onyxx already has a handle on it.
      I like Flea's idea below about family classes and adult classes being divided. Good solution to this – it's a fairly common problem.

  5. Flea

    January 20, 2014 4:26 pm

    I think parents should take these classes with their children in order to train the parents and kids. Without other dog owners in the room. Just a room full of parents and kids, with one or two well-trained dogs as examples of how to behave and how to train the kids.

    It's Monday. I'm grouchy. I agree that kids don't belong unless they can listen and the parents can pay attention to them.

  6. Linda Bliss

    January 20, 2014 6:44 pm

    Haha just reading about those kids made me annoyed so I can understand how you felt. I would have asked to be moved to another class and explained why to the trainer 🙂

    Linda – Alfie's Blog

  7. jen

    January 20, 2014 7:24 pm

    I personally have taken my kids to a few dog training classes because I wanted them to be involved with it. It was at least 4 years ago so they were young. I explained to them the rules of being there and we didn't have issues, but if I would of been in your shoes I would have totally done the same thing!

  8. M. K. Clinton

    January 20, 2014 9:03 pm

    I worked in the school system for way too many years to tolerate unruly children. I've told parents before that the behavior their child displays might be cute to them at a young age but when they are acting the same way at 15…not so cute. I enjoy children but I enjoy dogs a whole lot more! LOL!

  9. pjdonna

    January 21, 2014 6:37 am

    It doesn't sound like the trainer is in control of the class if you are encountering all these issues. Perhaps the class size is a factor as well? Donna must of the things thought in obedience classes already so I don't really feel like spending the money to send her to one. But you thoughts on reinforcing using it as a distraction is probably relevant and making me rethink it. 🙂

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 21, 2014 6:53 am

      The class size isn't overwhelming. It's six dogs and she just gives us a cursory look so she's really only dealing with five.
      I'm thinking of taking a recall class with Mr. N because his recall is reliable about 90-something percent of the time but he wants to go say hi to every person and dog and the class is built to work around those distractions.

  10. 2browndawgs

    January 21, 2014 1:59 pm

    That whole class would bother me. The place where we train (an AKC sanctioned club) only has socialization in puppy class. After that I do not think socialization belongs in an obedience class Beginning Obedience or otherwise. To me it means the instructor is too lazy to actually train. Kids who are well behaved and want to learn absolutely belong in class. But there needs to be rules, not the least of which is learning how to behave around dogs and in a class. If they are disruptive, then they need to be asked to leave. You paid for the class too you know. I think you were nicer than me. I would have told them to please stay away from my dog from the get go. I agree that being with kids is great if the encounter is positive but it can make real issues if it is not. I think I might consider a different class or instructor.

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 21, 2014 10:19 pm

      I agree with you on the socialization part. After the first kennel encounter, we just go out to the hallway and practice by ourselves there until it's over. We didn't pay for the class (they're letting us take it free because of the foster situation) so I feel awkward about asking. I talked to the instructor afterwards and she said she would stop the kids from interfering with Onyxx if she saw them.

  11. Jackie Bouchard

    January 21, 2014 6:04 pm

    OMD, how annoying! I can't believe the trainer let that go on. (I *can* believe the dad did, because a lot of parents seem a bit clueless to how their children are being disruptive.) Also, it seems odd to me that the trainer has just an open play time w/ all the dogs. (At our recent class, the trainer assessed which dogs should play together with one on one time. Luckily we were in a location where there was a separate fenced field, out of site behind some bushes, so the dogs waited their turns until their 5 min or so of play time w/ their assigned buddy was up.) Also, our trainer said no kids at the class unless over a certain age. He wanted the parents focused on their dog and not on their kid.

    Is there another class (with another trainer?) that you could be moved to?

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 21, 2014 10:15 pm

      It is odd to me too and why I didn't want Onyxx in there. I think there's a weekend class but it would be more difficult for me to get to. Also they're letting us take the class for free (because foster dog situation) so I feel weird about asking for more favors.

  12. Piranha Banana

    January 29, 2014 5:57 am

    This is interesting. I run a chihuahua socialization group and we tell people in the rules prior to joining that the groups is for the dogs to play and socialize with each other . We tell the for the dog's safety and their children, not to run after, incite, corner, pet, etc. the chihuahuas. With regard to training, it is a lot more difficult to say something – but this has happened to me while I was in training. My momma went up to the mother of the children and said, "my dog needs more time to focus and learn – it takes him a little longer than most – and I was hoping you could help me by not distracting him while I am working with him – thanks so much!" and She was very receptive to that – and for the rest of the classes, she kept the kids away. I know that does not work with everyone – but it did for me that time. Best of luck with your continued training. If you are looking for like sized playgroups for socialization go to and search for 'small dog groups' etc. I run if you want to check it out – dont forget to look at the pictures too! WOOF WOOF!

  13. fashionbeyondforty

    May 24, 2017 11:45 am

    And this is one of the many reasons our Lyla is NOT happy around kids. Don’t get me wrong, kids are not the devil incarnate – necessarily lol and I have two of my own but I just do not believe ill behaved children belong in a class like this or with parents in a class like this. How can they teach pets good behavior if they can’t teach their own kids good behavior!?
    It sounds to me the kids need to be in a discipline course.
    I get it, we have the free range parents who believe in allowing children to be children and act as they want but I believe one can free range in the proper place and time – there are simply some places children should act properly. Being able to be free is one thing, having manners is another!
    I am glad you stood up for yourself and your furbaby!

  14. Kitty Cat Chronicles

    May 24, 2017 6:04 pm

    I am so sorry you had this negative experience. I can totally relate. My husband and I teach private music lessons out of our home, and one of our students’ parents brings all 4 of their kids to the lesson, 2 of which are very young kids – like 2 and 3. The whole time they are there, they are running all around our house acting like hooligans, using our home decor items as toys, jumping on our couch, and have even ripped one of our ottomans. The parents are there the entire time, just letting them do it. It is completely ridiculous. It has gotten to the point now (past it, really), that we are going to have to tell them that the kids who aren’t taking lessons just can’t come over. It’s an awkward conversation to have, but something has to be said. I hope that something was said about the kids in your obedience class too.

  15. Beth

    May 24, 2017 6:40 pm

    I would say that not all kids are as clueless as these ones seemed to be. I taught elementary school and while some of my students might have behaved similarly to those ones, many wouldn’t have. It all comes down to personalities and how the kids have been raised/taught.


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