Blog Dog Training ~ Speaking Dog the Bark Busters Way!

Sunday 11 December 2016

Christmas: Keeping your dog safe

Christmas is fast approaching again, so we would like to remind you of some important things to consider when preparing for the Festive Season with your dog.

Many dried fruits are poisonous to dogs so don’t allow them access to grapes, the cheeseboard, or any Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or mince pies.

Your Christmas dinner and the lovely big turkey that has been roasting all morning will be very tempting to your dog, but be careful about allowing him to partake in this meal. Onions, including leeks, and onion powder that may be found in stuffing mixes, can cause liver damage or a rare form of anaemia in dogs. This applies to both cooked and raw onions and leeks. Additionally, gravy can be very fatty, salty and too rich for your dog, so keep him away from the gravy boat and don’t allow him to lick your plates clean!

Salt can be dangerous to dogs as they cannot process excess quantities. Especially in an older dog, too much salt can cause kidney damage. So please watch out for the bowls of salted treats and make sure they aren’t easily accessible for your dog.

At Christmas, there will be quantities of sweets and chocolate around your house. Chocolate is very tempting for dogs but it can be a lethal temptation for them! Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include hyper-excitability, vomiting, frequent urination, diarrhoea, rapid breathing, weakness and seizures. If you discover that your dog has eaten chocolate and is displaying these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. Store chocolate well out of the way of your dog, and make his Christmas treats be something more natural for dogs. Also, discarded sweet wrappers can be very tempting too. Sweet wrappers can get trapped in the stomach and digestive system making for a very sick dog, and the need for an operation to remove them.

Never be tempted to feed your dog the cooked bone from a joint or the cooked carcass of a roasted bird. Cooked bones can cause internal damage as they splinter.

Make sure alcoholic drinks are out of the way of your dog. Your dog may be tempted to sample the contents of a glass left on the floor or a low coffee table.

Please be mindful that, if you are drunk, your dog may not recognise you instantly as he normally does. He may be fearful of you and back away or growl at you. Try to keep your voice calm and neutral, don’t rush to touch him, and allow him to work out that it's really you.

Please do ensure that Christmas decorations are out of reach of your dog, especially a puppy who will be interested to sample the delights of tinsel, baubles and Christmas tree lights. Also, if you’re in the process of toilet training a puppy using paper in the house, don’t leave wrapped presents under the tree as it is likely that the puppy will use them as a toilet. Don’t reprimand your puppy for mistakes like this…he is learning.

Please ensure that any small parts of toys, and any batteries are always out of the reach of your dog. If he swallows a battery, please seek veterinary advice. If you are going to buy presents for your dog, please ensure that they are toys manufactured specifically for dogs. Buy dog toys from a reputable pet shop or manufacturer and go for quality rather than quantity.

Dogs often love visitors and all the extra attention they bring. However, please ensure that your dog doesn’t become overwhelmed with attention. Particularly watch his interaction with children, and create a safe space for your dog to retreat to if things become too much. Don’t allow anyone to approach your dog once he has gone to his safe space. You may have to be firm with visitors, but you are responsible for the well-being of your dog, and you need to be sure that he won’t be pushed to his limits. Also, if you are holding a party, ensure that alcoholic drinks and party food are not left lying on the floor where your dog can help himself…you could end up with a very poorly pooch! Very often, dogs do not appreciate loud music so be mindful of this and allow him to go to his safe space, or turn the music down.

Please think twice before letting off fireworks to celebrate Christmas. Fireworks are one of the main complaints we hear from dog owners; they can cause extreme anxiety to dogs as they don’t understand the loud bangs. Doing without the fireworks will be appreciated by both your dog and those that live in the area.

If you prepare yourself, and try to view the Christmas wonderland of your home through your dog’s eyes, we are sure that you will be able to enjoy a safe and happy Christmas with your pet.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Meeting your dog's needs

As we all know, if you are a dog lover, owning a dog can be great fun and rewarding for all members of the family. However, the joy of owning a dog also brings with it a commitment from you that will last around 12 years or even longer. During that time, you will face challenges, frustrations and financial demands that may put a strain on your pockets, your relationship with your dog, and sometimes even your relationship with other members of your household!

With a view to minimizing any potential challenges and frustrations, we would like to offer some advice on how to ensure that your relationship with your dog is the best that it can be, so that you have a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog who will, in turn, offer you years of loyalty and joy that only dogs can bring.

Firstly, when choosing a dog, ensure you have some knowledge of the breeds available to you. Choose a dog that is most likely to fit into your lifestyle by reviewing their potential size, cost of feeding, amount of exercise they are likely to need, and ensure that you have sufficient room in your house and sufficient levels of income, fitness and time to be able to accommodate their needs.

Having considered these factors and decided which breed of dog is right for you, you will be on the right track for bringing into your home a dog who will be easily loved by all members of the family. Your dog will be a positive addition to your life providing you ensure that you are fulfilling his/her basic needs. Our Bark Buster trainers meet hundreds of dogs every week in their homes where their behavioural issues are causing their owners stress, tension and frustration. One of the first things we will explain to you is this; a big step towards a better-behaved dog is to ensure that their four basic needs are being addressed.

Feed your dog a good quality food. Do your own research and do not be persuaded by high-profile television advertising. Feed the best food you can within your budget, and consider visiting the independent comparison website where you can view most of the available dog foods and compare their ingredients, ratings and price. Also worth remembering is that, just like humans, dogs can fail to thrive, or even develop behavioural issues if fed a constant diet of low quality, processed food. Don’t be afraid to add in some fresh vegetables, fish, meat, and even some fruit. Again, do some research on what to feed and what to avoid before you start doing this.

Dogs are sociable animals that thrive in family units (or packs). Once they live in your home with you, then is what they perceive as their family unit; you become their pack. They won’t view you as humans who are naturally in charge in the human world…they simply see you as other members of the unit. Just like you, they instinctively know that the unit needs to be safe, but unlike you, they won’t automatically think that, because you are the adult human, you oversee the safety. In the dog’s eyes, for the family unit to be safe, there needs to be a leader. If your dog doesn’t see you as a leader – if he can train you to respond to his demands, yet ignore your commands, then he will start to regard you as a weaker member of the family and will feel it is his duty to step up and take charge of safety and security of the family both inside and outside the home. This can lead to many problems including nuisance barking, aggression towards other dogs or people visiting, poor leadwork, and poor recall. So, to give your dog a feeling of safety, it is important that he regards you as a good leader who he respects and feels he can depend upon for consistent and wise guidance.

If you decide to own a dog, you have a duty to ensure that your dog has a warm, dry, safe shelter protected from all elements. In the UK, most dogs live inside our home, unlike their counterparts in other countries. Clearly this naturally means that, as a dog has access to the house with the humans, he will have adequate shelter. However, some dogs, especially nervous dogs or those in households with young children may appreciate a small, dark space of their own where they can take themselves away from the family hullabaloo, and relax. Your Bark Busters trainer will happily explain to you the benefits of creating an indoor pen for your dog who may benefit from a smaller space within the house where they can retire and safely relax.

Every dog needs to be trained for them to live harmoniously with humans. This doesn’t mean that you need to turn your dog into a machine, or that you need to be a dog trainer to own a dog. However, you should ensure that you can train the basics. You Bark Busters trainer will be able to help with this. Training can also be fun and entertaining for your dog. By using his brain, he is using energy. Playing with your dog, and training him provides him with mental stimulation and builds up your bond. He learns how to respond to your commands, and learns that the correct response brings praise and reward. By learning through positive interaction, your dog will be much more responsive to you. He will also be mentally tired after a training and play session and this will help to alleviate potential problems of an under-stimulated, under-exercised dog who could become destructive.

By ensuring that you meet your dog’s needs, you can avoid many of the potential behaviours that can harm our relationships with our dogs, and look forward too many years of happy dog ownership. Also, don’t forget that, by meeting his needs, you will have years of unconditional love, someone also pleased to see you, and someone who always wants to go out with you and be in your company.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

The Festive Season & Dogs

It’s that time of year again! Christmas is fast approaching, and the season for after-work drinks, get-togethers and parties is about to begin. Obviously, we all want to enjoy this time of year; but do spare a thought for your four-legged friends as they don’t understand the changes that may occur in your routine and your behaviour. We’ve put together some advice for you to ensure that you keep your dog safe, comfortable and happy during your seasonal celebrations.

If you are going to go out with colleagues after work, your dog may be home alone for much longer than usual. This could result in him missing his dinner time, or being unable to get out to toilet. Try to arrange for somebody to call in to feed him and let him out. If they are willing, they could take him out for a short walk too, or stay and play with him for a short while. Don’t ask someone who is a stranger to him though…make sure your dog has met them before and is comfortable with them coming into the house. You may ned to plan this in advance.

However much we enjoy our nights out we should remember that we still have responsibilities towards our dogs. Returning home drunk means our body language and demeanour can change considerably and your dog may be confused. In extreme circumstances, he may not recognise you and may growl or even bite you! You should make every attempt to communicate with your dog as normally as possible to ensure that he recognises your voice tones. Dogs rely on scenting to know who's approaching and this can be masked with the smell of alcohol. This coupled with the swaying walk of being drunk can cause your dog to become very confused and he may not recognise you. You should also ensure that you are not too inebriated to let him outside before bedtime, and that you can check that gates aren’t open to enable him to escape.

Also, please remember that it would be unfair to reprimand him for jumping up at you and knocking you over. He may become excitable because events are not as they usually are. Remember, it’s not his fault he’s knocked you over…it’s because you are unsteady on your feet! Also, if he has had a little toilet accident, don’t punish him. He could have been left alone for a lengthy period so it's better to clear up and forget about it. If your dog has chewed or destroyed something in your home, and this is not his normal behaviour, don’t assume that he has done it for spite – dogs don’t think like that. He may have become stressed by the amount of time he has been alone.

When you own a dog, lying in bed nursing a hangover sadly isn’t an option unless you have another member of your family willing to take on the morning duties. Your dog will wake up at the same time as he always does, want to be fed and let out. Don’t punish him for this as he won’t understand what's wrong.

House parties are great fun for humans, but this is not the case for all dogs. Your dog may be sociable and love parties, meeting new people, and being fussed by visitors, however, do try to keep an eye on what he may be eating and (more importantly) drinking! People who don’t own a dog may think it fun to feed your dog from the buffet, but they don't realise that it may be harmful to him. People will also place glasses of alcohol on the floor beside them whilst they are chatting – be vigilant about this, as your dog could become very ill from drinking alcohol. If you have a dog who isn’t that sociable, and is likely to become stressed by lots of people in the house, make sure you have a safe place for him to retire to, away from the party. Ensure that nobody enters his space without your permission – so don’t put him in a bedroom where the coats are being stored! Were somebody to get bitten it would spoil your party and your relationship with that guest. It could cost you a lot of money too! If possible, let him go and stay with a relative or a boarding kennel where he will be properly looked after and kept safe.

If you are out walking your dog in the evening, then you may come across drunken revellers in the street. Their noise and antics may unsettle your dog. Try to keep your pace, take a wide berth, don’t automatically tighten the lead and simply walk past them in a clam manner. This will give your dog the message that you aren’t worried, and he doesn’t need to be either.

It’s a difficult time of year for dogs; dark nights, Halloween, fireworks, all bring different levels of anxiety for different dogs. If you can do your bit to try to reduce the stress of the party season for your dog, you’ll be doing him a real favour and we’re sure you’ll be happier too.

Monday 5 December 2016

Destructive Behaviour in Dogs

Dogs who seem intent on destroying the contents of your home and garden can be very difficult to live with. As humans, we find it difficult to understand why our dogs choose to chew chairs, tables, stairs, carpets, skirting boards and walls; some dogs will tear up and chew carpets and vinyl. These can be very expensive habits for any owner to tolerate, and may even result in a dog being rehomed.

So why do dogs chew the fabric of our homes? There can be many and various reasons why your dog is behaving in a destructive way.

It could be down to boredom…if you don’t interact with your dog and don’t ensure that he has sufficient mental stimulation and physical exercise, he may look for other ways to entertain himself.

It could be due to stress…when does the chewing occur? If it is when you are away from the home, it may be that your dog is stressed and anxious about being left alone.

Diet can also have an impact…although we can see no nutritional value in a carpet or chair leg, your dog’s diet may be lacking in some nutritional components that the dog is trying to obtain from other sources.

Digging up your garden can also be caused by boredom, or by a diet deficiency.

Your Bark Busters Home Dog Training therapist will talk to you about addressing your dog’s basic needs including diet, entertainment and education, and safety. For your information, we have produced a separate article covering these needs and how you can ensure that you are meeting them.

If your dog’s destructive behaviour is caused by boredom, then ensure that he is receiving enough attention, positive training and mental stimulation. Once this type of stimulation is sufficient, your dog will be tired and able to relax and sleep. However, there will still be times during the day or the evening when you may want to provide your dog with something that will entertain them whilst you are busy doing other things. For these times, you may want to consider a  GameChanger™ dog toy that you have stuffed with something healthy and tasty or a Kong which you can freeze to entertain for longer. Licking the frozen contents out of the Kong will keep him occupied for hours. There are also many brain training games for dogs on the market. These will keep the dog mentally stimulated as he tries to work out, and follow the procedure for extracting the treats from the toy.

These forms of entertainment for your dog are also effective If your dog tends to be destructive only when you are away from the home. But, where this is the case, it is also worth trying to discover why your dog is so anxious about being left. Occasionally we meet dogs who are too stressed to engage with food or mental stimulation whilst their owner is absent. Sometimes we need to try other things to try and reduce the anxiety that a dog is feeling. These may include providing a covered pen area to create a small dark space for a dog to relax in, ensuring that he isn’t left either with the full run of the house, or any places in the house where he might feel threatened, like the front window or front door. For dogs who behave in this way, it is never a good idea to allow them access to the hallway or landing where they may feel that they are on guard duty. Remove his exposure to as many outside noises and sights as possible by closing blinds, and leaving the radio on so that outside noises are muffled. Also, start to try to separate from your dog from time to time whilst you are in the home, by putting him into the kitchen, or into his pen so that he becomes accustomed to not being with you permanently. Start with just a few minutes and gradually build up. Don’t make a big fuss about leaving him and, when you allow him to be with you again, give him some mild praise for his achievement.

There is nothing to be gained from rushing in and shouting at a dog who has chewed the carpet whilst you’ve been out at work. He won’t know why he is being shouted at! Instead, take steps to try and avoid this type of behaviour either by trying some of the ideas mentioned above, or employ a dog walker to come and take your dog out whilst you aren’t available, try spraying your furniture with bitter apple spray to discourage him from wanting it in his mouth.

If destructive behaviour is something you don’t seem to be able to stop, you may need to call in a professional to help you ascertain the reasons for it. Your local Bark Busters therapist will help you to see what is going on for your dog, and why he behaves in this way. Finding out the dog’s motivation for destruction is the key to ending the problem, and will ultimately prove much less expensive than constantly needing to replace the furnishings.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Manage off lead dogs

Lee Hardy, Bark Busters Home Dog Training Derby:

I’ve been training dogs, as a Bark Busters trainer, for over 16 years. I have come across all kinds of breeds and all kinds of issues. Dog owners who call on me for help want their dog to be well behaved both at home and in public, whilst retaining their spirit and love of life. They want to be able to walk their dogs without fear of embarrassing or dangerous incidents. This means that they will be working hard to train their dogs in public spaces. Much of the outdoor work they do will involve their dog being on a lead whilst they perfect their training. What I find is that their attempts to practise are often disrupted by a situation beyond their control.

Without doubt, the most serious challenge to owners and their dogs comes from approaches by off-lead dogs. It is the number-one frustration for many dog owners. They ask me how to handle approaches by dogs off-lead, who persist at encroaching into theirs, and their dog’s personal space causing, at best, chaos or, at worst, a confrontation or fight. My advice to them is to remain calm and to call to the other dog’s owner to “come and get your dog!”. Expletives are tempting but not to be advised if an owner-confrontation is to be avoided! Clearly, I want my customers to be able to get themselves out of a difficult situation with the minimum of stress and confrontation possible, but they may well be panicking as their dog is reacting to the unwelcome approach from an uncontrolled dog. An adrenalized owner trying to control an adrenalized dog is the last thing that a dog trainer wants. It can be a recipe for disaster, set training back by weeks and undo lots of hard work!

When you see a dog on lead in a public space, the chances are that the dog is on his lead for a reason. You must remember that not all dogs are sociable. Some may be nervous or even fearful of other dogs, and these are states of mind that can cause aggression. I rarely see aggression from a well-balanced, confident dog – they don’t feel the need to protect themselves. I can also state with absolute certainty that a dog off-lead is far more likely to be attacked when approaching a dog on-lead. This is because the dog on the lead cannot escape. He has lost the ability to run away, his ‘flight’ option, and only has the ‘fight’ option available to remove the perceived threat!

You may cheerfully call out that your dog is “friendly”, “only wants to play”, or “just wants to say hello”. I can say with certainty that the people on the receiving end of this unwanted approach, don’t care about your dog’s friendly personality; they simply want him out of their space to avoid conflicts.

If your dog won’t listen to you when off-lead, and rushes up to any dog he sees, then he should not be off-lead. With new legislation in the UK, your dog is "out of control" and consequences could be dire for both you and especially for your dog. You must have control of your dog in public spaces at all times. As a good dog owner, not only is this your moral responsibility, in consideration of other people and their dogs, it is now also your legal responsibility. If either you or the other dog owner were to be injured during a dog fight, inadvertently or not, the consequences can be catastrophic both legally and financially.

I understand that you want your dog to enjoy time off the lead, and to have exercise, but you must train your dog, ensure that you are always in control and ensure that he will come to you when called, no matter what the temptation. Responsible dog owners that are out and about doing this very training don’t deserve their hard work to be undone by those who allow their dogs to be out of control. If you need help it's important to call a trainer.

Until you have complete control, if you see a dog on a lead, please be considerate and put your dog on a lead too and help to ensure that all dog owners and their dogs, whatever their temperament, or however far along with their training, can enjoy public spaces.

If you feel I can help you with this, you can call my team on 0808 100 4071 who will discuss your needs and explain my service without obligation.

Alternatively, please do visit my website where you will also find lots of helpful information.

Monday 21 November 2016

Alabama Rot Deadly Disease To Dogs

What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot or CRGV (cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy), is a canine disease that causes blood clots to form in blood vessels causing damage which leads to tissue damage. 

An extremely dangerous disease, its cause is currently unknown, but it can affect dogs of any breed, size or age. Unless spotted early, the disease can quickly develop and lead to kidney failure and death.

The disease was first identified in greyhounds in the USA during the 1980s. The first cases to be identified in the UK appeared in 2012 and has since spread across England, with cases identified randomly by area and breed. As no exact cause for the disease has yet been established, developing a vaccine has not yet been possible

What are the Symptoms?
Early symptoms are a noticeable swelling of an area, skin lesions, patches of red skin or open and ulcer-like sores. Often, these will present on the dog’s legs, below the ankle or knee, or on paws; but they can also be found on the face, mouth, tongue, lower chest or abdomen.

Later symptoms, such as tiredness, reduced appetite and vomiting can be signs of oncoming kidney disease. These symptoms can occur quickly; within 2-7 days.

What can I do to protect my dog?
There is currently no vaccine developed against this disease. Current advice is to wash wet or muddy parts of your dog after a walk even though it is not yet known whether washing prevents Alabama Rot. Wash your dog in lukewarm water and avoid strong chemicals. In addition, remain vigilant; if you notice skin lesions or any of the symptoms described above, take your dog to the vet for immediate advice. Your vet will decide whether to treat with antibiotics, dressing, or whether referral to a specialist is necessary. Some dogs are able to fight the disease and recover but, sadly, others will go on to develop kidney failure at which point there is little that can be done. There is currently no evidence that the disease can be transmitted from one dog to another but if in doubt, contact your vet.

Veterinary specialists, Anderson Moores, who are based in Winchester seem to have made the most extensive studies of the disease in the UK to date. Their findings, up-to-date advice sheet and images can be found on their website . There is also a dedicated website where you can find images of what to look out for, information relating to the latest research and the number of cases in your area.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Monday 14 November 2016

Greeting Unknown Dogs - Training Tips

If you are a dog lover, which you probably are if you are taking the time to read this article, you will enjoy greeting new dogs you meet whilst out and about. However, attempting to greet a dog in an inappropriate manner could cause you all sorts of problems, and could also put you, the dog, and the owner at risk.

Dogs are taught by their mother from an early age, on the appropriate way to greet other dogs. As the time is getting shorter when a puppy is removed from its mother some dogs don't learn this valuable life lesson. When dogs meet, they do not normally rush in face to face. They know the rules of the canine world and respond accordingly. Dogs meet side on in relative silence. There will be little or no direct eye contact and no hugging. There will be sniffing! Some dogs will show respect to another dog by lowering their height and even sometimes rolling over to show their belly. These actions demonstrate that they are not a threat and the greeting will proceed according to the canine rules.

As humans, our behaviour is usually the opposite of this. Humans are of the primate world and our greetings are face-to-face, with eye contact, voice and hand movements. When we use this behaviour to greet a member of the canine world, our friendly signals may not be understood as such. For example, when we bend over the top of a dog, gaze into his eyes and reach out to stroke his head, these actions could potentially be perceived as threatening behaviour by a dog, and this may cause him to react to protect himself and/or his owners from you, and could have unpleasant consequences.

When dogs feel threatened they have two options – fight or flight. If you meet a dog on lead, the first thing to remember is that he has lost the option to flight, and he knows that. So, his only remaining option to escape your unwanted approach is fight. Many dogs will issue a vocal warning before they engage their fight response. This will be a low growl which tells you to ‘back off’ and lets you know that the dog is not feeling comfortable. However, you can’t rely on this as some dogs will completely skip the vocal warning stage and may simply attack. If you’re not familiar with reading a dog’s body language, you will have missed any silent signals and it will be too late. This is often the case for children.

Clearly, if a dog is on lead with their owner you should first address the owner. The dog’s first impression of you will be gained from its owner’s response to you, and their body language. If he sees that you are friendly and don’t make the owners feel uncomfortable, he will feel more relaxed. Always ask the owners for permission to greet their dog. They will know from experience whether this is a good idea or not. Listen to what they say… we have watched in horror as children rushed up to a strange dog whilst asking the owner whether they could pet him, but were already in the dog’s space before the owner had a chance to respond. In most cases they are lucky and the dog was tolerant, but the outcome could be very different.

If and when an owner confirms that you may greet their dog, you can move closer to the dog but allow a dog to complete the final approach towards you. If he doesn’t approach, leave it there – this dog doesn’t want you to greet him. Assuming that the dog does approach, you have his permission for a greeting. At this stage remember the canine rules…

  • Don’t make direct eye contact
  • Don’t bend over the top of dog – lower your height a little instead.
  • Don’t hug the dog as this can be seen as a threat or challenge action.

Don't offer your hand to allow him to sniff. It's possible that you're simply giving him something to bite. Don't make any sudden movements and remain still whilst he takes time to sniff. You need to let any sniffing run its course, as this is how dogs interact. Wait until any sniffing stops and you see that signal from the dog that he's happy with you. If he backs off do not force your petting on him. Once he is happy with you, you can stroke him lightly. Try to avoid the top of the head or the hindquarters. If at any time you feel unsure of the dog, or sense that the dog is unsure of you, stop the interaction, slowly move away and say goodbye. Dogs can sense uneasiness, and this could cause them to react badly to you.

Equally, if the dog has allowed you to say hello and then moves away from you, he is giving you the signal that the interaction is over. Respect that and move on. Don’t keep forcing your attentions onto a dog whose body language is telling you otherwise.

It is also important to teach children the correct way to greet dogs. They tend to see dogs as cute and cuddly playthings and rush to hug them. This behaviour is very dangerous as, not only might the dog feel threatened by them, the child’s face is likely to be the first point of contact if the dog reacts. Always stay in control of your child’s behaviour around all dogs, including those that are known to them. You can read more on child safety around dogs at

An ‘attack’ by a dog on a human, particularly a child, can result in prosecution for the owner and destruction of the dog. The owner could potentially face a prison sentence of up to 5 years, disqualification from owning a dog, and a fine of thousands of pounds. Please be considerate of the potential results of your actions. Follow these simple steps whenever meeting new dogs.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Monday 7 November 2016

Sibling Rivalry - Dog Training Tips

One of the common calls we get is for help where two (or more) dogs living in the same household have started to fight. We call this sibling rivalry. Many owners never experience this but, for those who do, it can be very distressing. Not only can it be dangerous for the owners when they try to break up fights, once sibling rivalry becomes extreme, owners may be left with no option but to rehome one of their dogs.

A sibling rivalry situation can seem to appear out of nowhere. Your dogs have probably got along pretty well for years and then suddenly things change. In truth, the situation probably hasn’t arisen out of nowhere; it’s possibly been developing for months without you noticing. There are many different reasons why sibling rivalry might develop and it is worth ensuring that you understand some of the more common reasons and how best to avoid it.

Dogs living in the same household are forced to spend a lot of time together. Whilst living together can be advantageous to dogs, providing them with company when you are out, and a permanent companion and playmate, it is worth remembering that each dog is an individual and that dogs do not think in the same way as humans.

It’s a good idea to allow the dogs some time away from each other from time to time; so separate areas in the house, or separate crates can be arranged so that dogs have the opportunity to take themselves away from another dog that might be causing them stress. You can also try to introduce the odd walk, or playtime with you that doesn’t include the other dog but, again, this must be done fairly and alternated between the dogs. For the dog that isn’t out with you, leave a brain-training game, or a toy stuffed with treats to mollify and entertain him. Another benefit of separating the dogs for your attention is that you can use the play time as a chance to do some useful training. It is often difficult to train two dogs at the same time as they distract each other and, between them, can get the upper hand. Train each dog separately and ensure that they respond to your commands.

It is vital that you do not give preference to one dog over another or allow privileges to one dog and not another. The rules must be (a) clear, (b) consistent and (c) applied equally to all. Treats and toys and food must be fairly shared amongst all the dogs, and access to your attention must also be equal. Every dog in your household needs to be trained to respond to your commands. If you don’t train your dogs, so that they listen to you, they will look to each other for leadership and direction, and this is likely to cause you major issues.

When a younger dog comes into a household with an established older dog, you may notice that the older dog is automatically given status by the younger dog. The younger dog will follow the older one around, and will learn from him the rules of the household. This may include acceptable behaviours and manners around other dogs, where to toilet, and feeding etiquette (eat from your own bowl, not mine). However, as the years pass, your older dog’s leadership will start to wain in the eyes of the younger one, and he may start to challenge the older dog. It may go so far as to take over the older dog’s bed, snarl at him in doorways or when there is food around, or prevent him from having his favourite toys.

A worst case scenario is that the above can be just the start to behaviours that may escalate into fighting. If you notice these signs, ensure that the older dog has the opportunity to take himself to a safe place but, most importantly start to address these behaviours. Sibling rivalry isn’t limited to being between older dogs and younger dogs. It can happen at any stage in dogs’ lives when they live in the same space

If necessary, put in place some emergency measures to separate the dogs and keep them safe. Look out for the triggers such as food, a favourite toy, prime spot in front of the fire and try to change things so that the triggers are removed. Also get your dogs’ health checked by your vet. It could be that the dog being attacked is ill

The first thing to remember when owning multiple dogs is that you, the human, must be in charge. All of the dogs must recognise that you are the leader and know that there is no leadership to fight for. As we have said in previous articles, dogs are great people trainers. We can find this cute and funny, but it is often the cause of many cases of sibling rivalry. Look at your situation; do your dogs demand attention/actions from you? And do you respond? Do they become more demanding if you try to ignore them? If the answer is yes, then your dogs have been busily training you and now think that you are their hand maiden rather than their leader. They may start to fight over your attention or your belly-rubbing services, or fight over who sits on you on the couch. You need to take back some authority very quickly and you may need to seek the help of a dog behaviour professional.

If you need help with this or any other issues, please give us a call on 0808 100 4071. Our trainers will be happy to help you.

Monday 31 October 2016

Don't Confuse Your Dog!

As Bark Busters trainers, one of the most common things we hear from dog owners is "My dog doesn't listen to me".

If you have heard or read about the Bark Busters system of training, you will know that it is founded on communication; voice tone and body language. This leverages the natural communication which works for dogs and has done for thousands of years. Dogs tend to behave consistently and respond consistently to similar triggers. Very often it is we humans who cause the problems by using a combination of inconsistent commands and differing rules depending on how busy / tired / stressed / lazy we are feeling.

The result of this inconsistency is that your dog is probably listening very hard to what you are saying, willing to do as you ask, but is totally confused about what is expected of him.

So when you think that your dog doesn't listen, it could be that you are confusing him by using inconsistent commands and failing to praise his success. For example, you may use 'no' to tell him to stop doing something, your partner may use 'stop it', your children might just shout his name. All of these commands could be interspersed with the odd 'A-ah', 'put it down', 'get off', 'stop being silly'…the list goes on.

Add to this the likelihood that you all have different rules: Some of your family allow him on the couch, some don't, some allow him on the couch at night when they are tired and can't be bothered to tell him to get off: Some allow him to jump up, some don't, some encourage him to do it, some don't mind as long as they're not wearing their best clothes, and some don't mind unless he's muddy! Some of you feed him food from the table, some don't allow him to beg, some don't mind him begging as long as you don't have guests. All of these inconsistencies create a very confused dog!

The same rules around consistency apply to training. You must use simple, clear and consistent commands, and always follow with praise for success. So, if you are training your dog to sit, the 'sit' is his command, followed by 'good boy/girl'. The whole family needs to use the same command, 'sit'. There should be no 'sit down', 'are you going to sit for me?', 'sit down, please', as you will start to confuse your dog with too many different words. If you are starting from scratch, and your dog genuinely does not understand the command, then you can use some gentle manual pressure to place your dog in the sit position, accompanied by the verbal command and then praise when he sits. Your dog will soon get the idea.

Another important point is that your dog's name is not a command. So, if you are calling your dog by shouting his name over and over again, your dog will almost certainly hear you but not be certain of what you want him to do. He may come to you – or not. Calling him in this way from the lounge to the kitchen might work as he may be interested enough to come and see what you are up to or whether you have something for him, but it may not work in the park where he is more interested in new people, dogs and smells. Decide on a recall command such as 'Rover, come!', or 'Rover, here!', use it consistently whenever you want your dog to come to you, either in the house or out and about, and remember to praise him when he does come so that he understands he is doing the right thing.

We recently met a dog owner whose dog was 'not listening to him', and whose barking was driving the owner to distraction. When we met their dog, he was barking as expected. The owner's command for stopping this behaviour was 'sit!'. The dog did indeed sit, but carried on barking. The client was exasperated by the dog's failure to stop barking. But the dog WAS actually listening to the owner and sitting as requested. He had no idea that 'sit' meant he should stop barking - and why would he? Once we had explained this to the owner he could see immediately that he was not communicating well with his dog, and was soon able to change his own behaviour.

Most people's dogs will listen once their owners learn to communicate clearly and consistently. If it helps, write down your commands so that you, and the rest of the family, know what they are and when to use them. Don't allow variables to creep in.

Of course, if you need any help, you can call us and we would be delighted to help you with teaching you how to train your dog and be consistent. We know that your dogs will thank you for it!

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Managing your dogs fear of fireworks

Bonfire night takes place traditionally on 5th November but, as we all know, nowadays, fireworks can be seen and heard for weeks before and after that date. Whilst fireworks are attractive and exciting for humans, dogs generally are far less keen and are unable to make sense of the loud bangs and explosions taking place in their normally quiet lives.

Dogs can become very worried and even distressed by loud bangs. Obviously there is little you can do to prevent the fireworks going off around your home, but you can take some steps to minimise the stress for your dog.

Firstly, during firework season, it may be worth trying to alter your routine slightly so that instead of walking your dog during the evening, try to walk her before 7pm, or much later at night so that you are not out and about during peak firework times. If you are out when fireworks go off, keep a tight grip on the lead, but keep the tension down the lead loose so that you don’t let your dog think that there is something to worry about. If your dog is uncomfortable, return home.

Whilst you are all at home, keep the curtains drawn and the television or radio on. These simple steps can help to reduce your dog’s exposure to flashing lights and loud explosions. It’s also important to try to behave as normally as possible and not show any reaction yourself to the noise outside. Your dog will become more anxious if you show that you too are disturbed by the noise. Similarly, don’t over fuss your dog. Your dog will see this as abnormal behaviour and will think that there must be something to be worried about.

If being in the room with you with curtains closed and the television on is not sufficient to keep your dog calm, she may take refuge under a table, behind the sofa, or in her crate. If she does this, just leave her alone, and don’t stress her more by trying to coax her out. Just behave as though everything is normal and she will pick up on your demeanour and feel more comfortable.

Ensure that your dog has no access to outside doors as she may bolt in fear once the door is opened. In case this does happen, make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag so that she can be reunited with you.

Make sure your garden fencing is secure and that gates are locked to prevent your dog escaping in panic from the garden. It’s preferable to keep your dog indoors when you know there will be fireworks. It’s a good idea to ensure that the door to the house is left open for the dog whilst outside so that she can make the choice to bolt into the house rather than out into the road.

Taking steps to ensure that you shelter your dog as far as possible from the noise of fireworks will help to alleviate the potential for extreme stress, and will also help to keep your dog as safe as possible throughout the firework period.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Don't let the Halloween fright turn into a bite

Halloween is fast approaching and, as dog trainers and behaviour therapists, we know that this can be a particularly difficult time for dogs. Most dogs don't like change because they are used to the routine and association they have built and are most familiar with. Their environment may be different because of decorations in the house and the street, and the people around them can change in both appearance and behaviour. We’ve put together some useful advice for anyone who owns a dog, or who may have contact with dogs over the Halloween period.
  • Your children may enjoy dressing in Halloween costumes, but your dog may not! Please don’t dress your dog in costume unless you know they are comfortable with this. Trying to force your dog into an unfamiliar (and possibly uncomfortable) costume could result in a stressed dog who may react aggressively towards you and other people he encounters.
  • Once you are dressed in Halloween costumes, particularly those that include masks, your dog may not recognise you, and may respond to you very differently to normal. We would recommend that you never wear, or allow anyone else to wear, a mask in the presence of your dog. If you or your children are going to wear costumes, make sure that your dog has a chance to sniff them before wearing them, and that you behave in your normal way around him whilst wearing them.

    You cannot assume that your dog understands that you are wearing a mask or a giant spider costume. Dogs will struggle to make sense of the changes. Furthermore, if you set about deliberately shocking your dog by wearing ugly masks and screaming at him, you risk stressing your dog and, at worst, you may get bitten. Similarly, if somebody else does this and gets bitten, you will be responsible!
  • Don’t be afraid to control children, or any other visitors, to manage their behaviour around you dog.
  • Sweets and chocolate can be poisonous to dogs – ensure that all confectionery is out of reach of your dog.
  • Trick or treat is great fun for children but not necessarily so for dogs. He may become anxious about the number of people knocking at your door, wearing masks and making Halloween noises. Again, you can’t expect your dog to understand that it is Halloween. To him, this is behaviour that he didn't expect, does not understand and he may feel that you are under threat, and react accordingly. Make sure your dog has no access to the front door or the hallway during the times when trick-or-treat groups are likely to visit. By doing this, you will be protecting him from a stressful situation and ensuring the safety of both your pet, and the ‘visitors’.
  • In case your dog does panic and escape whilst you have the door open, ensure that he is wearing his collar and ID tag, and that the details are up to date.
  • Be careful when using candles in the house. Make sure they are high enough to avoid the risk of them being knocked over by a wagging tail, or use electric or battery-operated candles instead.
  • Unless you are 100% sure that your dog can cope with the added excitement, or the stress of being out amongst ghoulish figures carrying lamps in the dark, don’t take your dog trick or treating. Leave your dog at home with the television on and the curtains closed, or pop him in his crate with a tasty dog treat.
  • If you are someone who doesn’t participate in Halloween dressing up or trick or treat, try to remain as normal as possible around your dog. Don’t over fuss your dog as this can send him a message that there is something to be worried about. Consider leaving a pot of sweets outside your door with a sign for trick or treaters to help themselves. That way, you won’t be disturbed.
  • If you meet a dog whilst dressed in a costume, behave sensibly. Keep your distance from the dog as you address the owner. Don’t attempt to stroke the dog, and never try to deliberately scare the dog. Your actions may leave the owner and the dog in serious trouble if you get bitten as a result of your actions.
We want you to enjoy the Halloween celebrations whilst remaining safe, and ensuring that your pets are safe and happy too. Giving a little extra thought to your four-legged friend will give you the best chance of a happy Halloween with no unfortunate, unforeseen incidents.
Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Monday 24 October 2016

Jumping Up - Dog Training Tips

We often get called to see dogs who are in the habit of jumping up at people. It may be that they jump up at their owner, or visitors, or anyone they pass in the street! It’s a behaviour that can be, at best, embarrassing for the owner or, at worst, putting the owner at risk of criminal charges and an expensive fine.

When dogs greet each other (besides the rear end sniffing), they do so face to face. This is the accepted etiquette between dogs. The problems arise when your dog offers this behaviour to all humans he wants to say hello to. Jumping up at you in order to get his face close to yours is not good manners in the human world, and it certainly won’t go down well when your dog chooses to do this to the first person he passes after a run through a muddy field! So jumping up to say hello is a prime example of a behaviour where communication is key to teaching your dog that what is acceptable in the dog world is not acceptable in the human world.

To avoid confusing yourself as to how far your dog needs to go before his behaviour is considered anti-social, apply this rule: “My dog should have four paws on the ground when greeting people”. This benchmark is completely unambiguous. It will eliminate any doubt in your mind, and will enable you to know exactly when to praise your dog. Even if you decide that your dog needs to be in a ‘sit’ in order to greet people, he will still have four paws on the ground.

So how do you teach your dog to stop jumping up? Bark Busters trainers do not condone using painful methods to deter a dog from unwanted behaviour, so we do not hold with methods such as kneeing your dog in the chest, or causing pain in any other way. These methods are cruel and do not communicate to your dog what you want him to do instead. Rather, we would suggest that you teach your dog through communication and leadership to offer an alternative behaviour, either standing or sitting, but with all paws on the floor. You must start simply, using yourself as the stooge. Teach your dog that he is highly praised when he remains on the ground, and that jumping up will earn him no attention from you other than a vocal correction. Be alert, and be ready to issue your vocal correction as soon as the paws start to leave the ground – don’t wait until his paws are on your shoulders to do this. As soon as his paws are back on the ground give lots of praise, but try not to be too physical with your praise as this may encourage him to jump again. By consistent repetition, teaching him that remaining in the sit or stand position when visitors arrive will earn him your praise, you are positively reinforcing that behaviour.

What you must understand is that we, as humans, often overcomplicate the communication between ourselves and our dogs and so we slow down the training process. When you set out to train your dog either in to or out of certain behaviours, you must be consistent. Dogs are consistent creatures who tend to respond in the same way to the same triggers. Humans are inconsistent, and respond differently to triggers depending on what mood we are in/how much time we have/ whether or not we can be bothered. By behaving inconsistently, you will only confuse your dog and slow down any progress. For example; you may accidentally encourage your dog in his jumping up habits by being animated and friendly when he does this to you, but then you might scream in horror when he does it to your five-year-old niece and knocks her over. The rule is simple…if you don’t want your dog to jump up at everybody then he must not jump up at anybody – including you. A dog cannot make the judgement as to who he can and cannot jump up at, so you must teach him never to jump up at anybody. He is greeted and fussed when he has four paws on the ground.

Spend some time putting your training into practise before you go out, or before visitors are due to arrive. Your dog will learn more quickly when there are few distractions and he is not excited, as he will be better able to listen to you as you teach him and praise him. Training your dog also helps you build a bond, entertains your dog, and teaches him to use his brain. A trained dog is a pleasure to be around.

If you need any help with this or any other issues, give us a call. Your local Bark Busters Home Dog Training therapist will be delighted to help you and teach you the techniques you need to cure your dog’s ‘anti-social’ behaviour.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Sunday 10 July 2016

Bereavement: Coping with the loss of a dog

Bereavement - Coping with loss of dogDogs are with us for just a short period of our lives and yet, during that time, they become a major part of our family. Many people would describe the attachment they feel towards their dog as just as strong, if not stronger, than that felt towards some human relatives. So when it is time for our beloved pet to leave us and cross over the "Rainbow Bridge", the sense of grief and loss can be overwhelming. What is worse, many other people, those you work with or those you know socially who have never owned a dog and never experienced that particular bond of love and affection, simply cannot comprehend the depth of your grief.

As well as affecting you personally, it will also affect the whole family and your other pets if you have them. So whilst you are grieving, you also have the difficult task of dealing with the grief of the rest of the family, and the change in behaviour of your surviving pets as they try to cope with the loss of a member of their family group and the changes in your emotional state. This can leave you in a maelstrom of emotions, and make coping with the loss of your pet even more difficult as you struggle to maintain your day-to-day life amongst those whose sympathy is limited. For those who lived alone with their dog, the sense of loss is particularly heightened as their beloved dog has been their full-time companion and friend.

People who comment that “it’s just a dog” are not going to be any help or support to you during this traumatic time. They are probably not wishing to be harsh, but they simply to do not understand the bond of family and friendship that a dog brings. So, although there will be those who will not comprehend the depth of your grief, this does not mean that should not allow yourself to mourn the loss of your dog. It is important not to feel ashamed or guilty about the grief that you are feeling. You need to go through this process in your own time so that you can eventually move on from it.

Coming to terms with the death of a dog is a process that can take some time. The duration and unfolding of this process will vary from person to person and can last from weeks or even years. The process will be as individual to you as was your relationship with your dog. Waves of emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt or even depression will bring emotional lows that will last for varying lengths of time. Accepting that these emotions are a normal part of the grieving process, and allowing them the freedom to come and go will mean that, eventually these emotional lows will become shorter and less painful as time goes by.

Accepting that your feelings of grief and sadness are normal responses, that should not be denied, is the first step in your healing process. Don’t try to tell yourself how you should feel, and certainly don’t allow other people to do so either. Where you can, reach out to other people who have shared similar experiences and are willing to share on social media, forums, or on-line support groups. These people will be helpful and supportive to you, won’t judge you, and will share their own experiences too, allowing you to feel less alone. Also, by listening to their stories, you can draw some comfort from the knowledge that you are helping others along their journey of mourning.

During the process of mourning, it is also important that you try to maintain your physical health and well-being. Your emotional energy can drain your physical reserves so it is important to try to maintain your eating, exercising and personal hygiene habits. For those in employment, maintaining the regular routine of going to work can be beneficial. It is probably a good idea to let your employer know what has happened to you. They may not be able to offer much in the way of structured support, or time off, but alerting them will help to avoid potential criticism of your commitment and/or concentration levels. Also important is to try to maintain the regular routines of any surviving pets. Make sure their feeding routines are maintained, and also maintain or Increase the amount of exercise and interaction. This can help re-establish your relationship and break the overwhelming mood of sorrow that you all share.

Holding a funeral, or remembrance service is something that can allow time for the family to come together to grieve and share their personal feelings and experiences about your pet. You will probably experience many tears and overwhelming grief at such a ceremony, but there will also be laughter as people share their stories from the dog’s life. Laughter and joy are ways of celebrating your dog’s life and are as valuable as sorrow throughout the grieving process. You may also want to think about creating a memorial, whether that be in a pet cemetery, pictures around your home, a book of memories, or by planting a tree or erecting a bench in your dog’s memory. All of these things are positive actions that allow you to invest your emotions into a physical activity, and may help you to process your grief.

Of course, the manner of your dog’s passing can also contribute to the emotions you are feeling. When a dog is put to sleep by a vet, the decision is one that has been taken with the advice of the vet, and is in the best interests of your dog. In other words, you have been guided into an informed choice that reflects your love for your dog. Sometimes a dog’s passing may be sudden and completely unexpected due to an accident or an attack. These latter situations can prove more challenging as you may blame yourself or start to think ‘if only’. If only you hadn’t left the gate open, if only you hadn’t taken him to the park at that time. These types of thoughts will bring feelings of guilt and even self-loathing into the mix of emotions, and can be very difficult to deal with. If talking with people who understand and empathise with your emotions is not preventing you from slipping into despair and depression, then you should speak to your GP to help you seek professional help.

If you are thinking about getting another dog, don’t do it too soon. The decision is personal and yours to take, but rushing into the next relationship with another dog may not be the best thing for either you or the dog. You may find that you constantly compare the new dog to the old one, and the new one will not come out on top. Allow yourself to mourn your old dog and, only when you feel emotionally ready, then allow yourself to love another. Also, consider your age; Are you fit enough for a large dog? What is your life expectancy? Be honest with yourself about what type of dog you will be able to handle.

During this difficult time, and if you don’t have any surviving dogs, do allow yourself to appreciate the benefits of not having a dog. Try to have days out, holidays, evenings with friends where you are not tied to the needs of a pet. Constantly repeating all of the behaviours that you used to do when you had a pet will not help you move on.

The journey through grief can be a long and difficult one, and you may feel that you are making the journey alone. Allow yourself to be present on the journey, don’t allow other people to try to direct you or try to speed you through it. Allow those who are willing, to support you as you move through the stages of your grief until, ultimately, you are able to move on.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Introducing a new puppy or dog

Introduce a new dog or puppyIf you have decided that the time is right to add a new dog to your family, you will probably be feeling really excited to introduce the new addition to the rest of the family. There will be reasons why you felt that this was the right dog for your family…right age, right size, right temperament, good with children, good with other dogs etc., so you are confident that this new dog will easily slot in to your family group.

Whether you have decided on a puppy, or an adult dog, you should take time to consider that your resident dogs may not be quite as excited as you are about the prospect of a new dog moving in. In fact, this change in the family group can prove quite stressful for your dog, so it’s worth taking care to manage the introduction and so minimise potential problems.

We’ve put together a few tips to help you:
If you are adopting from a dog rescue centre most rescues will ask you to bring your existing dog to the centre where you can all meet your potential adoptee. The staff, and you, will then be able to see how the dogs interact with each other before agreeing that you should take your new dog home. Even if you aren’t adopting through a rescue centre, it is still a good idea to allow the dogs to meet on neutral territory first, as your dog may react to a new, unknown, dog arriving on his territory. Also, if you already have more than one dog, it’s worth introducing them singularly to the new dog so that you don’t overwhelm the new dog with an already established group.

Once in your home, ensure that the new dog has its own sleeping area, and its own food bowl. Don’t expect your existing dog to be willing to share its bed or food bowl with the newcomer. Feed the dogs in separated areas, and remove food bowls after each meal time as dogs can be possessive over food bowls even when empty.

Use a crate or safety gate to ensure separation. Allow your existing dog to roam freely, but secure the new dog. This gives the existing dog time to get used to the new dog being there, and to accept that he has not lost his place in the family group.

Never leave new your new dog unattended with your existing dog until the dogs have got to know one another, as the situation can sometimes deteriorate quickly. At times when you do allow the dogs together in one room, make sure you are on hand to deal with any issues as the situation can change very quickly. Also ensure that any prized possessions and toys are removed so that these don’t cause any sort of potential rivalry. The dogs should have their own toys that are only brought out for them to play with when they are separated.

Always remember that your existing dog needs to be confident in his status and where he fits within your family group in order to accept the newcomer. Treat him the same way as you always have done, and be fair about sharing your attention. In fact, share everything equally, including your time and attention, as well as treats and toys. Never favour your new dog over your existing dog. Your new dog will learn a lot from your existing dog about how the household works, so doing your utmost to maintain routines will help both of them as they adapt to each other.

Introducing a puppy to an adult dog.
Not all dogs will welcome a new puppy into the home. Puppies are notorious in looking for attention and can easily overwhelm your existing dog. Supervision is needed when introducing so as not to get them off on the wrong foot.

Very young puppies may not understand and pick up on your existing dogs body language that says he's had enough. A well-balanced adult dog may growl to tell the puppy to back off and to say he's had enough. This can be a natural behaviour and establishes the ground rules and helps the puppy learn the boundaries. However, an adult dog with poor social skills may not growl and can snap out and harm the puppy. Try to observe the body language of your existing dog and if the situation looks to be uncomfortable remove the puppy for a period of time. Don't leave your dog and puppy unsupervised and unattended. Be mindful and respect your existing dog's need for a puppy free time and also spend some one-on-one time with your existing dog too.

Handle the puppy-to-dog introduction with care as you would when you introduce two adult dogs. Observe their body language, allow brief sniffs, ensure they don't overwhelm each other and place them on leads if you feel it's safer. Don't forget to praise them when they are calm and they are well behaved.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Saturday 21 May 2016

Dog Bite Prevention | Avoiding Dog Bites

Dog Bite Prevention Week 2016Dog bite prevention week takes place on the third week of May annually and aims to educate people in how to avoid being bitten by a dog. It's a sad fact that dog bites, in the UK, increase more and more each year. Over the past 10 years, dog bites have increased by over 40%. The latest NHS figures appear to show that there has been an increase of over 6% on 2014 compared to 2013*.

Thousands of people in the UK are bitten by dogs every year, and many of these bites result in the need for medical treatment and admission to hospital. Children between the age of 0 and 9 years are the most likely to be bitten, with the injuries being on the face and shoulders. Their bites often occur whilst the child is playing with a " familiar" dog too.

Bark Busters believe that the vast majority of dog bites or attacks can be avoided. To minimise the risk, dog owners should take care to train and socialise their dog and feed a good quality diet. They should also educate children in the appropriate way to behave around dogs. Below are some guidelines on child safety in the presence of dogs:

  • NEVER leave children alone with a dog.
  • Educate your child about dog safety just as you would about road safety. To get you started, you could ask your child to visit our Dog Safety for Children website to watch our "Dally Says" video with an important message.
  • Don’t allow your child to approach a strange dog. If the owner is present, you may ask the owner if it is ok for your child to approach the dog. Only then, and under the guidance of the owner , you may supervise your child in a gentle approach to the dog. Allow the dog time to sniff you first before any attempt to stroke the dog. You should only stroke the dog if the owner is confident that it's ok to do so. Unless you supervise this greeting, children often rush up to dogs whilst asking the owner if they can stroke the dog, but are often reaching out to the dog before the owner has registered the question.
  • Never allow a child to approach a dog whilst it is eating or sleeping, and don’t allow children to feed a dog as dogs can be protective of food. Furthermore, don’t allow a dog to take food out of a child’s hands.
  • Never allow a child to approach a dog with puppies. She will be very protective over the puppies, and may bite if she feels that her puppies are at risk.
  • Don’t allow children to approach a dog who is tied up. If a dog is frightened or scared it has two options, fight or flight. If they are tied up, they have lost the option to flight and may bite if they feel threatened and can’t escape.
  • Children should never be allowed to run around or scream around dogs. This can excite the dog and can lead to heavy play or may alarm a dog and can lead to a bite.
  • It goes without saying that children should never be allowed to pull a dog’s ears, mouth or tail etc. Dogs feel pain, children can be heavy-handed and although they don’t mean to, can cause pain which may result in a bite. Children should never sit or lie on a dog. Even hugging a dog should be discouraged.
  • Ensure that your dog has somewhere to go where he can escape the attention of a child. A crate can provide a place of safety or a quiet area under a table. Children should never approach the dog in his crate or area of safety, and should certainly never try to enter the crate.
  • Whenever you have children over to visit, make sure that your dog is under control on their arrival, giving you time to explain your rules about approaching your dog. Be vigilant and be ready to remove your dog from a situation where you are uncomfortable, or where your dog appears uncomfortable. This may mean that you need to learn to observe your dog’s body language . We have resources to help you with this on our website.

* NHS statistics


Sunday 17 April 2016

Springtime Dog Training Tips

Now that we have made it through Easter, the days are getting longer, and the fields, hedgerows and gardens are bursting into life, no doubt you can hardly wait to get out and explore the countryside with your dog. So we thought we would put together some tips and advice to help you and your dog stay safe and healthy this Springtime.

Make sure you check that your dog is up to date with preventative treatments for fleas/ticks lungworm and heartworm. Fleas and ticks can cause many problems including flea allergy dermatitis and Lyme disease. Both fleas and ticks can cause dangerous levels of blood loss, especially in young dogs. There are many treatments available that are effective and easy to use, but speak to your vet if you are unsure or feel you would like more advice.

Try to prevent your dog from eating plants and flowers. Unless you are knowledgeable about which plants your dog should definitely not eat, it is best to try to prevent the risk by stopping him from eating any plants. It's also worth remembering that lawn treatments contain herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers that may be harmful to your dog, so don’t allow dogs onto treated lawns until the treatment has dried completely.

Should your dog have allergies to blooms or grasses, you may notice that he develops itchy skin which he persistently scratches, licks or bites. If you are aware that this condition only occurs during three months of the year, you can try oral medications to help. It’s a good idea to speak to your vet who can perform a skin test to pinpoint the allergy and recommend suitable treatments.
Take advantage of the longer days and warmer temperatures to rebuild your relationship with your dog by committing to exercise and training that will re-establish your communication and give your dog a chance to get his brain active again after the long winter months. Practise your lead work, your recall and your basic obedience… the more interactive you are, the more fun your dog will have with you.

Please also be aware of the changes to the laws, rules and regulations covering dogs and their conduct in public places. These may have changed since you last visited the great outdoors. Check whether dogs are allowed to be off-lead in certain areas, take poo bags so that you can clear up after your dog, and make sure that your dog is under your control at all times. We have produced a separate article covering compulsory microchipping which comes into effect on 6 th April this year, but you must also ensure that your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag that identifies you easily.

Springtime is a very important time for farmers. NEVER allow your dog to run free on agricultural land, especially where there are sheep and lambs. You can gain further information from the National Sheep Association website.

Did you know that a farmer whose livestock is under threat because of an uncontrolled dog is within their rights to shoot your dog. We recommend that you keep your dog on a lead in any area where there may be livestock. During lambing season, sheep can miscarry their lambs if worried. It's also not uncommon for sheep to die as a result of stress caused by worrying.

Be prepared…the weather can change quickly at this time of year so make sure you have equipment to cover a sudden change in climate. You might want to take a dog coat, blankets, or waterproofs in case of rain, but also take water in case the weather warms up, and never leave a dog in a car, whatever the weather. What may seem to be mild temperatures outside can soon turn into oven like temperatures inside a car. It's important to remember that a dog cools down differently than humans and having a fur coat can make for a lethal combination in the car.

Whatever you do, stay safe and have fun with your dog!

Further Information:  
Artile: Gina Hinsley - Bark Busters Home Dog Training Bristol
Bark Busters trainers, who have trained more than 1 MILLION dogs worldwide, are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters Home Dog Training is the only service of its kind that offers a worldwide guaranteed lifetime support. With over 350 offices in 7 countries, Bark Busters is continuing its mission to enhance the human-canine relationship and reduce the possibility of maltreatment and abandonment. For more details, call freephone 0808 100 4071 or visit

Practice Recall with your Puppy or Dog

Does your dog come when called?
Now that we are into Spring, and the weather is warmer, many of us enjoy the chance to take our dogs out and allow them a good run off lead. If your dog comes every time you call him, that’s great. But if you find that your dog consistently ignores your recall, then you could try improving your technique, and putting some training into place for your dog.

First of all, you need to set yourself up for success. You need to retain some control over the situation whilst you are training your dog to come to you consistently. A 25ft soft lead is often the best place to start as you can then allow your dog some extra freedom whist retaining the ability to show and guide him as to what you want him to do.

You must also ensure that your voice tones are working for you. If you shout your dog in an angry voice, he is possibly going to think twice before coming to you. You need to call him in happy, light tones that encourage him to want to come back to you. Use lots of praise when your dog comes to you. As Bark Buster trainers we often find that a common reason for problems with recall is that owners only recall their dog when there is either a problem, or when it’s time to go home. This doesn't encourage your dog to want to come back to you. It is far better, when training recall, to keep recalling your dog, lavishly praising him and then releasing him again. Doing this several times when you are out trains your dog to understand what you want from him, shows him that there is a reward for this behaviour, and also shows him that your recall doesn’t mean that his fun is over. Doing this also has the effect of making you more interactive, and more interesting to your dog, and will help him to keep focused on your whereabouts.

When you praise your dog for coming back to you, the praise must come as soon as he starts to move towards you. Whilst he is learning recall, praise him immediately he starts to make his way back to you so he understands why he is being praised. If you put in a ‘sit’ command, and ask him for his paw before praising him for returning to you, he will think he’s being praised for giving you his paw, and not for the great recall.

Once you have consistent recall on a long line (without you having to reel him in), you can progress to recall off-lead, but be sure to start in an enclosed area such as a tennis court. Once recall off-lead is consistent in the enclosed area, you can progress to open areas.

When exercising your dog off-lead, be mindful that there will be dogs who are on lead for a reason. They, and their owners will probably not appreciate your dog approaching, so be ready to call him back before he reaches them, and put the lead back on if you need to as this is respectful of the needs of others.

As a final point, calling just your dog’s name is not a recall command; his name is just his name and he most probably knows that already! You must put in a command such as "come", so “Rover, come!” or “Rover, here!” will work much better.

As in everything with dog training, practice is the key. Consistency in your commands and your praise, will help speed up the process.

Good luck and enjoy your Spring-time walks.

Further Information:  
Artile: Gina Hinsley - Puppy & Dog Training Bristol
Bark Busters trainers, who have trained more than 1 MILLION dogs worldwide, are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters Home Dog Training is the only service of its kind that offers a worldwide guaranteed lifetime support. With over 350 offices in 7 countries, Bark Busters is continuing its mission to enhance the human-canine relationship and reduce the possibility of maltreatment and abandonment. For more details, call freephone 0808 100 4071 or visit

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