Saturday, July 2, 2011

I Am Not...

I am not a baby-sitter.

I do not have a degree in elementary education.

I never had any desire to be a nanny.

I like children, and someday hope to become a mother, but I will not mother your children.

I AM a dog trainer.  I am hired to teach you how to train your dog.  I am brought into the home to help the dog.  Occasionally, yes, that means teaching children.  It does not, however, mean baby-sitting children.

As an in-home dog trainer, many people hire me so that they can more-easily handle training their dog along with the day-to-day functions of the house.  I save them time and energy that might otherwise be wasted on finding baby-sitters, loading kids into the car, fussy car rides, and wrangling everyone in a training facility.  Some people, though, take advantage of this.  They see this as a fun experience for their kids, and they treat me as a school teacher.

I can understand a lot of things.  I understand that a dog is a family pet, and as such the children should learn how to care for their new friend.  I understand that finding someone to watch your child every week for at least an hour can be difficult.  I understand that having children at a lesson is sometimes unavoidable.  I am even more understanding of mothers with young children (2 and younger) who try their hardest to fit training in during their child's nap...relinquishing sleep or cleaning time, and I very much appreciate that.

I do not mind children being in a lesson.  What I mind is having a lesson take twice as long as it should because a parent has to keep stopping to tell their seven year old, ten year old, or even teenager to behave and pay attention.  I mind being interrupted by a child who finds the training boring and who simply wants to play.  My time is precious to me, and I mind having it wasted.

Many companies do not allow children in the lessons at all, and I don't think that's fair.  It makes life so much harder on families.  What I generally explain to families is that training can sometimes be boring for young kids.  I've found it's often helpful if the actual lessons are just adults and then the adults can teach their children.  I explain that, while children are allowed, it's sometimes best to give them something else to do.  Still, though, I have parents who are including their extremely-bored children in my hour+ lessons.

I have had children who are genuinely interested.  Occasionally they'll interrupt, but it's generally with real, honest questions.  Heck, I've even had a two-year-old learn how to tell his dog to sit (it was really quite amazing).  I have no problem taking extra time to teach kids like that.  They want to learn, and I'm more than willing to do my best to teach them.  I just don't know what to do about the majority of families...the ones who think that this is simply a "fun activity" and not a crucial learning experience.

So, I one question:  To any parent, teacher, or trainer, what would you do?  Would you ignore the situation and let it continue?  Would you place a no-child order?  Would you have serious conversations with the parents of said children (a very dangerous thing to do)?  What would you do??  Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


  1. I am an art teacher and yes I would put a disclaimer that states if you are unsatisfied with the rate of instruction to do unnecessary distractions that you have the right to remove children from the lesson (under a specific age). Remember your time is valuable and time cannot be taken back. Also you may note that you have a time limit for the session and whatever you get done gets done. At the end of the day if you tried your best and the people don't meet your goals you need to remember it's just work too; you have your own life.--- (Just don't let people waste your time is what I'm saying)

  2. I wouldn't institute a no-child policy. I would plan on extra time and charge with-child lessons accordingly. If it is a "family lesson" then that could have its own price vs a single adult with the dog lesson.

    Also, I would get some dog tips, tricks and facts that might interest kids to help keep them engaged. Have them be as active and participatory as they can in the class.


  3. Presuming that most people have more than one lesson - as soon as you have one that is disrupted/goes over time because of the children, explain to the parents this isn't acceptable and suggest they either not have them at the next lesson or schedule extra time. Which you will charge for.