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.

My dog got kicked out of class

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.

31 thoughts on “My Dog Got Kicked Out of Class for Being a Jerk”

  1. I once had a beautiful Border Collie / Bernese Mtn. Dog mix “Buddy”. He was so smart, sweet & lovable but strong as an ox. We were @ an event where dogs were allowed @ Town Hall. I was walking ahead,my husband w. Buddy on a leash, I went over to pet this “well trained ” Lab. , the dog looked past me & charged Buddy, he responded by growling, my husband pulled him back, I was in the middle,you could hear a pin drop all eyes on us. It was obvious that they all thought Buddy had started it, didn’t see that the other dog charged,it all happened so fast, we just turned & left. Lesson learned: Even “well trained dogs “can be set off in the right circumstances & a dog is still a dog.

    1. You do have to be aware of other dogs, as well. We have friends who have two Shiba Inus. Both are well-behaved and good around people and dogs. Unless you get the female near a German Shepherd. Then she goes ballistic. Never had a problem with a GSD (that she didn’t start). They’ve had her since she was a puppy, and she has always been like that. So, yes, dogs are all still dogs, and sometimes something sets them off that seems out of character or arbitrary.

    2. Yes. My dog Kassy was kicked out of class for being a class clown and turning her back to the instructor. I just left and laugh to myself and thought she had no patience. Kassy was a 8 month old darling Airedale.

  2. Sasha is mildly obnoxious when she encounters other dogs but it depends on the situation. We’re working on her CGC test and the trainer brings her dog as kind of a control, and Sasha knows that she is not allowed to play with Isis and doesn’t even try anymore. BUT on walks if Sasha sees another dog she ends up standing like a meerkat basically begging to play. Then I get ‘those looks’ and comments like ‘have you tried obedience classes’ ugh, as a matter of fact, YES lol

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      A Meerkat! Haha! Oh my gosh, I can picture it. Remy is hard for me to handle at times as you know and I get those comments too. “Have you tried obedience classes?” Haha! “Have you heard of a Gentle Leader?” People do mean well. 🙂

    2. This is so Lambeau! He is good- most of the time. But if we see another dog or a person gets close, he does the meerkat thing, too. It’s not really funny at the time, but, yeah, LOL.

  3. After the second agility class with my Kuvasz, years ago in Germany, I was asked to not come back. She just wanted to play and was disruptive to the entire class. I think in those instances good instructors should suggest training options rather than just kicking a student out and embarrassing them.

    1. It was embarrassing to be asked to withdraw from the class, but I am glad we did get an alternative suggestion. I would have been at a loss what to do if not. At least I got an idea of something we could try to help.

    2. I had almost the same reaction when I started agility training. The instructor told me we needed to practice more in Obedience. This was a dog that had already got 3 titles in Obedience!!! anyway a few years later she got titles in agility and jumping. no thanks to that instructor

  4. This is a bit different. My 130-pound Rott/Lab mix, Tank, was just a sweetheart, but she always had to establish that she was boss with other dogs, even dogs she knew well, before they could proceed to playing. This wasn’t a problem until I thought how great she would be as a service dog at nursing homes, hospitals, etc., but was told she would have to get over this putting other dogs in their place first. She didn’t fight them, just wanted them to lay down in front of her, then playtime commenced. She was literally a gentle giant in all other respects and knew her size around older folks and kids. So I enrolled her in obedience (she was about a year old then). I happened to live in Texas at the time and it was summer and very hot. Everything started fine, but as time wore on I could tell Tank was getting a bit tired of it all. When the instructor had us all walk around in a circle, Tank just laid down and refused to move. She wasn’t overheated or struggling in any way, she was just tired of the whole thing. I could not get that dog to move until I told her it was time to go home. It was a bit embarrassing, even though everybody was laughing. I didn’t go back.

    1. Haha! That is great!

      I had a golden who was anxious during obedience classes. One time when we were supposed to have them stay and then walk across the room and call them, she came running to me but then ran right by me, out the door, into the parking lot and to the car! She had had enough!

      1. Oh, that’s funny! My first dog, an Irish Setter, did that to me once. I had taken him to an obedience class, and for graduation, they did a take on an obedience trial show. So, all the dogs had to go through their paces and show what they’d learned. We got to the sit/stay, and Rusty sat nicely and stayed while I walked to the full extent of his leash. The instructor was timing the drill, and Rusty just got sick of sitting and waiting, and he just collapsed onto his side. We failed that one, big time!

  5. Sandy Weinstein

    i cant say this has ever happened to me. i have only take a few classes with 2 of my girls. in fact, the trainer said my dog was the most well behaved girl there and needed to be in advanced class. however, i have seen some dogs that are terrors but i think it is mainly b/c they are not well socialized. i also think if the owner has not had dogs b4 or is a little timid, the dog will pick up on this and show it.

  6. Haha well… our dog Alfie failed puppy class for Barking, chewing and pulling reasons. Then we had a private trainer and nowadays we’re often complimented on his pawsome behaviour. But seriously, that training class you went to should have thought through the training setup better and not allow a newbie run ‘free’ so close to another dog 🙂

    1. We weren’t really all that close. It’s a huge room and the waiting dogs were lined up along the wall. We were in the middle of the room with lots of space between us and the other dogs. At that point in time, Lambeau was really only focusing on other dogs and people, not me and what I wanted him to do. I don’t blame them, or me, or Lambeau, really. It was a combination of a lot of stuff and he just wasn’t ready for that type of environment. But good to know other pups can fail, too! LOL

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      Haha! Oh, Alfie! I had the same thought about the training setup, but hard to say when we weren’t there. Oh … dogs!

  7. I’m glad it turned out well but am really sorry that it was an embarrassing experience. I’m inclined to attribute some responsibility to the instructor for introducing an off leash recall to a class of such young dogs.

    I have never seen a dog asked to leave our classes. Our classes have dogs who were asked to leave other classes but who just needed patience and practice as they learned to handle themselves in a group. The trainers were proactive about keeping everyone safe and waited quite some time to introduce any off leash work – we were past Puppy and Basic and into Intermediate before anything was done off leash.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I also thought maybe the trainers in this post were expecting a bit much. I know Remy would probably run up to another dog too, just sort of depends on the day, the energy of him and the other dogs and how much space there is.

    2. I agree 100%. This was not setting the dog up for success at all. You don’t practice across the room recalls with high distractions until you’ve achieved a lot more success with less distance and fewer distractions first. You also can’t mix energetic puppies and teenagers with older dogs who will (understandably) react to rude encroachment of their space/body security.

      While I agree that private lessons can be great, the best way to teach your dog how to focus on you when you are around other dogs is to actually practice and train around other dogs in safe ways. This requires trainers who know what they are doing. Here, they let you down. This was entirely foreseeable! It doesn’t matter how much space there is if your dog is not ready for the expectations they set. And they are the experts who should know better.

  8. I haven’t taken my dog to classes yet but am afraid she’ll deliver that sort of behavior. She’s extremely playful and really wants every dog to play with her but most don’t feel like doing so at the moment and that’s when she starts with tantrums

  9. I’ve done the basic obedience and rally, we now compete in agility. Sometimes dogs need to get out the yayas before class. I very lucky to have an off leash place, and a lake that’s close for my goldens. We have doggie friends to play with too. After I made the switch to raw, about 7 years ago I saw a big change in Honeys nervousness and aggression. We also went for training the aggressive dog classes!

  10. We did one class when I first got Griffen, and it ended with mixed results. The class was held in a busy PetCo, in just a cordoned-off area of the store, and there was too much noise and too many distractions to make it a good learning environment. Griffen actually went for our trainer twice because the guy, as nice as he was, wasn’t all that trained himself. However, my main source of embarrassment comes from walks in which we meet other people and their dogs. Griffen has severe dog aggression and he goes ballistic when he sees another dog. I watch all these folks walk by with their lovely calm companions and mine is acting like a lunatic, barking, lunging to the end of his leash and trying desperately to get to the other dog to attack. He’s only 25 pounds (he’s a terrier mix, I’ve come to find out thanks to the Wisdom Panel, not the Chihuahuador he was billed to be) and all tiger. Private lessons and both prong and e collars haven’t tamed him in the least. I’m afraid this is something I’m just going to have to live with. Sigh.

  11. My dog Handsome, a 3 year old, 80 lb. staffy mix, just wants to play with every dog he meets. He’ll bark and lunge at any dog. I’ve taken him to 3 private lessons with one trainer with mild results. This trainer told me we were ‘done’. His behavior continued to be unacceptable to me so I found another trainer. This trainer would not let me attend the lessons and would not even let me watch, said I would be a distraction. After 3 lessons with no visible results, I quit this guy. I live in a small community and there are no more trainers around. I don’t know what to do now. Handsome does have playmates that he gets along well with but sometimes gets overenthusiastic and the other dog will correct him and then all is well again. But when we’re out in public and he sees a strange dog, he’ll be back to barking and lunging. What do I do now?

  12. My dog was a rescue, so older than average. He has been abused and for some reason took an immediate dislike to the instructor. When he put her arm in his mouth, I thought we were out. We made it through the class, but only because the instructor was kind. Groups and close quarters are definitely not for him. Private classes are next, uh, with a new instructor.

  13. I look at it this way (and some people will disagree with me but that is okay). Kids and dogs are all different. Some kids do well in group situations and some don’t. My 9 year old daughter does not like groups and does not want to be in them. Then when my son was younger he wanted to goof around all the time in groups. The same with dogs. I have had 9 dogs over the course of 20 some years and they have all been different in personality and such. I even have some that will never be okay in a class or group of other dogs but I have learned to respect that each person and dog is different and that is okay. I wish my mom had that perspective when I was growing up and had not forced me to do things I did not want so I make sure I don’t force things on my kids or dogs that they cannot handle. That is my job as their mom -to protect them and do what is best for them.

  14. Chrissy Rodieck

    Cocoa growled at her obedience trainer the first time they met before class started. Fortunately she started being a dog trainer due to her pit mix and knew Cocoa’s potential. Since then with alot of training Cocoa has become registered with the AKC passed her CGC class. She has also started Rally and obstacle course training. Persistence in training is the key and it is life long.

  15. 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”.

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