Everything I Know about Discipline I Learned from the Dog Trainer


This spring our vet suggested we escalate our dog training. Our dog is 90% good and 10% unpredictable. The vet didn’t think we had to classify Birdie as a “bad dog” but when she became possessive and growly, we had to fix the issue.

After the trainer’s first visit, it occurred to me that everything he advised applied to discipline in the classroom with my students and at home with my kids.

Replace your child’s name any time the word “dog” appears. Let me know if you see any improvement after following Bark Busters’ advice. According to Bark Busters, you need to practice the desired behavior daily for at least 5 weeks before the appropriate behavior will be automatic and without any hesitation.

The dog needs to recognize the adult as the leader.

  • I have to set clear boundaries, so the dog will accept me as the leader of the pack.
  • The dog will constantly test the boundaries, and I need to be consistent. The dog feels safer when she knows that I will stop her when she hits the limit of what she is allowed to do.
  • If I am trying to get the dog to come to me, and I keep calling her name, but she does not respond, I may NOT give up until the desired behavior is demonstrated. The dog will see that as a weakness and know that she does not have to do what I ask. I can change my tactics by moving closer to the dog, spraying her face with a water bottle, or attaching the leash, but the dog needs to see that ultimately, I am in charge. 

If the dog is adrenalized (hyper) remove the dog from the situation calmly, then give commands.

  • When there is a lot of excitement, and the dog is not responding to my voice, I calmly clip the leash on her and pull her away from the chaotic situation. As soon as I have her in a place where she can focus on my commands, I give her directions. Avoid getting emotional and screaming at the dog.

Routine and retraining is important for the dog.

  • In order for the dog to acquire new skills (like putting on shoes getting in the car crate when I ask), I have to repeat the procedure. If I don’t repeat the procedure multiple times, the new skill will not be successful. I also have to ask the dog to perform the skill the same way each time. If I switch up my directions, it will confuse the dog.
  • If I leave town or the routine is disrupted (like when summer break started), the leader may have to practice basic training again, so the dog remembers what the rules and expectations are.
  • Keep directions and training simple and short. If I give long, complicated requests nothing will happen. 


The dog needs vigorous play several days a week, or she will get bored and misbehave.

  • If the dog has nothing to do, she will create an activity for herself that will most likely be something that I do not like. I have to provide opportunities that stimulate the dog to keep her from being destructive in the house. The vigorous play does not have to happen every day. If I provide a few activities each week, the stimulation carries over for a few days.
This is what dog fur looks like after the dog eats an entire red felt tip pen.

This is what dog fur looks like after the dog eats an entire red felt tip pen.


10 thoughts on “Everything I Know about Discipline I Learned from the Dog Trainer

  1. I have had to bite my tongue a few times in class this year as I almost gave commands like “Leave it!” or “Sit” to the children. I use hand signals with my dog and have not yet had the gumption to try that with my students….but I’m thinking about it.

  2. Actually I have sprayed water on students to stop the misbehavior of sleeping in class. Those are the old days when I could get a laugh and a repentant response. Now I would get a write- up for damaging self-esteem.
    The rest of the advice does apply quite well. If only we could attach a leash and pull them from the chaotic situation 😉

    • I figure clipping a leash is the equivalent of sending a student with a blank note down to the office just to get that student out of the classroom for a few minutes! The dog trainer called it “resetting”.

      I would love to spray students. We did it to my brother once to get him to stop talking.

  3. I taught 2nd grade and was reading a book where the main character trains search and rescue dogs. I was slightly embarrassed when I realized I was using the same techniques! Then decided, hey it works and is applicable. I do use some signs/ hand signals in my room.

    • I left out some other things he said that parallel my kid discipline tactics so closely! It made me start thinking about people I know with well behaved dogs and if I feel like their children are more well behaved too!

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