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My Dog Got Kicked Out of Class for Being a Jerk

M.A. Kropp is a writer for That Mutt. She is an animal lover and enjoys working with her pitull mix named Lambeau. Welcome her by leaving a comment.

We adopted our American pitbull mix puppy, Lambeau, in December 2013. He was eight weeks old. We enrolled him in a puppy class at our local dog training facility. He did fine, given that he was a puppy. He graduated and got his certificate.

We wanted to continue his training, so we enrolled him in the next level class.

It was a disaster!

He whined and barked and pulled on his leash the entire first class.

It was impossible to keep his attention on me for more than a split second. All he wanted to do was play with the other dogs.

The final straw was when we started working on coming when called. I took him to the end of the training room where one of the instructors put him on a long line. I let him sniff the handful of treats I had, and then went to the other end of the room and called him. He started fine, flying toward me down the room.

And then about halfway down, one of the waiting dogs shifted on her blanket at the side.

Bam! Lambeau changed course and pounced on her.

I’m sure he thought she wanted to play. She was startled and nipped him on the lip. Everyone converged on the two of them, I got his leash on him, and dragged him away, apologizing profusely to the owners of the poor dog he’d pounced on.

The lead trainer came over after making sure the other dog was okay and asked if he’d been hurt. He hadn’t. Then she looked down at us, me with my arms around my whining, struggling puppy, and him only wanting to run back and play with the other dogs.

“You know, perhaps you might think about a few private lessons with him for a bit. And come back to a class after.”

Which, of course, was her polite way of saying he was far too unruly for a class situation and he was too distracting for the other dogs and owners.

I was mortified. I nodded and we left. I was embarrassed and upset. What did all the other owners in that class think?

“What an awful dog! And that woman can’t handle him.”

And the trainers? I was sure they were all shaking their heads and thinking: “She shouldn’t have that dog. So irresponsible. If she can’t control him as a puppy, how is she going to do it when he’s grown? Maybe she should get a Chihuahua or something.”

I knew we couldn’t go back to the class, but private training? Isn’t that for really bad dogs? The ones that are aggressive and dangerous? Not for a cute, super-friendly pup like mine.

Still, something had to be done. I didn’t want to end up with an unruly dog that no one wanted to come near. So, I took a deep breath and arranged for a session of private lessons.

You know what?

It was one of the best things I’ve done with Lambeau.

Our instructor was really nice, and she told us that some dogs just can’t be in a group situation right away. They need to be taught some self-control and how to focus better first.

We worked on simple exercises to get him to pay attention to me, leash control and ignoring distractions. Slowly, we started bringing him closer to the other classes and dogs in the main areas of the training building. He got better. Not perfect, but better.

I think I learned as much or more than he did.

I learned:

  • to pay better attention to him before he got too excited.
  • his trigger distance – the amount of space to leave between him and another dog so that he can still focus on me.
  • better ways of distracting him and keeping him calmer.

He’s not perfect, but we were able to take that second level obedience course and get his graduation certificate.

I’m not a trainer. I’m just a dog owner who wants her dog to be well-behaved enough that people don’t mind him being around. Just like a lot of other dog owners.

I’ve talked to other owners who feel like I did – embarrassed and a little upset by their dog’s behavior, but still hesitant about private lessons that are often considered the last resort for an almost hopeless dog.

But in many cases, a few private sessions without the extra distraction of other dogs is exactly what is needed. I had to put aside my feelings and do what was best for my dog.

And every time I hear someone say: “Your dog is so good!” I know it was a good decision.

Have you ever felt embarrassed or upset by your dog’s behavior?

Let us know in the comments!

This can be very helpful for others who are struggling with their dogs. It helps to hear from others.

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M.A. Kropp is a writer for That Mutt. She is an animal lover and enjoys working with her pitull mix named Lambeau. Welcome her by leaving a comment.

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Tracy

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Hi I had a similar situation with my dog he just wouldn’t settle in his class but not just wanting to play with the other dogs as well,he would as I can put it do the moon walk to the door to get out I did feel a bit like yourself but I said and made the discussion and asked for one on one classes but we had to do them on video link at home and couldn’t fault him in any way so I felt I didn’t get much from them.

Carol (Mattie's Mom)

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

We adopted a 6 mos old lab mix rescue, Mattie in June of 2019. While we were not new to dogs (4 previously), Mattie was a challenge. We tried several trainers with no success. Late in the fall I started doing agility with Mattie (at home). It was a good way to expend her energy and to work on teaching her to focus and even some basic obedience. In January, I enrolled her in an agility class (where we had gone before) thinking that she would get some socialization in a controlled environment. Each dog was sectioned off in a cubical, so there was no interaction with other dogs. When it was Mattie's turn, she ran and ran, not too focused on the course and causing some dogs to bark, which seemed to 'feed' her. After about the 3rd class, I asked the instructor for some suggestions (Mattie had just bitten me (at home)). Our instructor advised us to see a behaviorist who recommended that we not attend any more agility classes, that Mattie had no impulse control and actually said that she would recommend that we take her back to the rescue organization. I replied, that we had made a commitment to provide a good home for Mattie. And then COVID hit, so we have been isolated. We continue to do agility in our yard. Mattie would so like to play with our neighbor's dog, Teddy (shih tzu/yorkie), but she is a bit overwhelming so we can't even let the dogs together as we social distance. Mattie will be 2 yrs old this Friday. She is showing signs of maturing. One thing that I have definitely learned this year is that Mattie does well with structure. So to the earlier comment, every dog is different and as pet parents we need to learn how best to raise them.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Aww, I'm glad you are finding ways to work with Mattie. It's frustrating when a trainer or behaviorist only points out what is "bad" about the dog without offering any real suggestions.

Tracy L

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

When I was 12 I had a yellow lab retriever I named “S-T-A-H” (pronounced STAY). I named him that because the dogs we had before him always ran away (mom told us someone stole them) and I did NOT want him to leave. We lived on a 600 acre farm and there was plenty of room for them to roam free or chase rabbits and squirrels. When Stah was a puppy I started training him in my own. It was funny at first when I called him to come to me, he would start then stop.... hesitate at times as if confused. Mostly due to his name. Imagine me teaching a dig named Stah to come when called “Come Stah” “Sit Stah” or “Here Stah”. After a while he began to figure things out. When Stah was 12 weeks old I took him to an Obedience class. He did absolutely great the first several weeks. Even when the instructor told us to put our dogs in a Stay position by saying there name first. When doing so the instructor as well as a few students looked at me and Stah and were wondering how this would work. I had already worked on this prior to signing Stah up for the class. In doing so I said “Stah, I want you to stay”. He knew the second stay was a command and NOT to be confused by his name. When told by the instructor to put our dogs in a stay position and walk to end of the leash. STAH was the only dog of 10 in the class (and the youngest) to do right the first time and every time. The instructor was amazed as were all the students. Just before the end of our 10 week class a trial was being held across town and I chose to enter Stah much against the instructors thoughts. “He is to young, he is not ready for a trial yet, there are commands that we have yet to learn. He will fail and you will be sissy and may choose to cease his training. This came from the instructor as well as more advance students whom we would be competing against. Little did any of them know my mother had been an instructor years ago and had won the National Obedience Trials four different times. Three with Teddy Bear and once with Gabriel’s Rocket Flyby.. nick was Royce. So mom prepared me very well for the event. We were the youngest of 38 contestants. I was not yet 13 and STAH turned 6 months the day of the trials. There were three trials over the weekend. STAH earned three perfect scores (100) and we had the fastest time in each trial. We took home three first place blue ribbons. A huge trophy. High in trial. And a new title. The crowd was roaring. My instructor had to visit the hospital to put his jaw back in place lol. STAH continued to compete until two weeks before he passed at age 15. He loved to compete and was all business once we entered the ring and I removed the leash. We competed in Obedience, Agility,Tracking and his titles filled my entire bedroom. He also won first place in both Agility and Obedience at the Nationals. Dad built a monument on our farm that was 8’ tall with a figure cast in gold resembling our Champion named STAH.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Wow, that is such a great story about you and STAH!

Gregg

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

Our police department had selected me to train at Lackland Airforce Base in the late 70's. I learned so much after 21 weeks. I went on to work several patrol / explosive / narcotic detection dogs for years and eventually became the trainer. Upon retiring from the police department I decided I had seen enough people being dragged down the street by their dog. So many people had no idea where to start or what type of leash or collar to use. It was also an adjustment for me as I was dealing with the public and not a bunch of cops. I loved it when people would say you make it look so easy and usually by the time we had finished our training they could handle their dog. Some were easier than others and it took me a while to adjust to so many different types of dogs. All I can say is all dogs need training.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

That sounds like such an interesting career. I'm sure you helped so many people and dogs.

shoiley

Monday 6th of January 2020

My dog did the same thing tonight in her first obedience class. She is six months old and the other pups were all younger. All were terribly well behaved except one 11 week old German shepherd who squirmed and whined for most of the class. Unfortunately, this was the dog that was at the closest station. My dog, a border collie, could not keep her eyes off this squirming puppy. She also pulled and cried and instead of settling down, she got more and more wound up. It was just the first class, so we weren't ask to leave. All we were required to do was sit in the chair and listen to the lecture about appropriate toys and leashes and stuff and let our dogs calm themselves around other dogs.....but I couldn't even get my dog to lay down until the very end. At home, she is an absolute angel. I've never even heard her whine before this class. I had no idea she would be so "dog crazy".

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 7th of January 2020

Hopefully things will get better. I wouldn't worry too much about it if it was the very first class.