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.


Going on a Field Trip

field trip

The bulk of the field trips my teammate and I schedule occur during the last 6 weeks of school. This includes a 3 day overnight trip related to our science curriculum. If it were up to me, I would not have any field trips and definitely not any overnight trips.

When my students are in the confines of the school building, I have full control (more or less). As soon as I leave campus with my students, all kinds of untold dangers are lurking around every corner, and the number one thing on my mind is getting these students back to their families in the same condition in which they left.

We have parent volunteers accompany us on all of our expeditions and let me tell you, I am slightly picky about parent volunteers. It is not always first come, first serve in my classroom. This is what I need from parent volunteers.

Charlestowne Landing

  1. Have a cell phone in case of emergency but do not use it on the field trip. Do not make a phone call or check e-mails or texts. If you have a job that requires you to check in often, do not volunteer to chaperone.
  2. Spread out from the other parents. If all parents clump together at the back of the group, you can’t help with crowd control, discipline, and safety, and that is why I invited you along.
  3. Be at the pick up and drop off locations on time and as instructed. If you decide that it would be nice to take the kids in your car out for ice cream on the way home, or if you drive them to your house for pick up at the end of the day rather than back to the school for regular carpool line, you just created a giant liability issue for the school and me. If students ride together on a bus, this problem is eliminated!
  4. It is OK for you to discipline students if they wander away, are too loud, or are rude to the tour guide. I want your help in this area. If you are uncomfortable disciplining, let the teacher know. Please don’t sit back and watch the unacceptable behavior continue.
  5. Do not complain about school issues or faculty members on the field trip. This is not a time to vent any problems you may have with the school. It puts me in an awkward position, and it is poor manners. However, feel free to tell me what a great school year it has been.
  6. Do not try to have a parent/teacher conference while on the field trip. I can’t give you my full attention, and it is not exactly a private forum.
  7. DO enjoy yourself and this time with your child and his/her classmates. Field trips are supposed to be a little bit of fun. I do want parents who participate in the activities when appropriate and are engaged.
Here I am on our field trip related to our studies of Colonial America.

Here I am on our field trip related to our studies of Colonial America.

Managing parent volunteers on field trips for my classroom has made me more aware when I attend a field trip as the parent volunteer for my own children. I try to anticipate where a teacher might need back-up even if it is simply counting children and letting the teacher know everyone is present. Because, in the end, I always consider it a successful trip if I arrive back at school with the same amount of students I had when I left. What are your best (or worst) field trip stories? The teacher or parent version!