Pit Bulls Get A Bad Rap

American_Pit_Bull_Terrier_-_SeatedAre pit bulls born mean? Are they really the vicious creatures we hear about so often on the news that bite and kill people?

The answer is no. There are unscrupulous dog owners who breed them to fight and subject the dogs to inhumane treatment with little or no caring, human supervision. However, pit bulls are no more harmful than poodles if trained correctly and socialized properly.

The History of Pit Bulls
It is believed that pit bulls originated from the English bull-baiting dog known as Mastiff “bullenbeissers” which translates into “bull biter”—a dog that was bred to bite and hold bulls, bears and other large animals around the face and head. When this was outlawed in the 1800s, the dogs were bred with smaller, quicker terriers to combine the intelligence of a terrier with the strength of a Mastiff.

Some pit bulls were bred to fight while others were bred for work and became noteworthy for their gentleness, affection and loyalty. This was the breed that appeared on army recruitment posters during World War I and starred in the Our Gang comedies. In fact, you may remember the RCA Victor logo which featured a gramophone and a pit bull.

Now, more than 700 cities and 40 states have bans on pit bulls. What caused America’s darlings to become the scourge of all dog-dom?

Unfortunately, dog fighting made a comeback in the 1980s and the pit bull was the breed of choice to fight even though it was illegal. The breed also became popular among drug dealers and gangs as a means of protection.

The Facts Don’t Support A Ban
In yearly tests of over 240 dog breeds by the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), pit bulls consistently achieve a passing rate that’s as good or better than the other most popular breeds. To achieve this good rating, they are put through a series of confrontations and if any aggression is displayed, they fail the test. Pit bulls displayed no more aggression or unprovoked attacks than any other breeds.

The bottom line? It all comes back to the dog owners. Like any breed of dog, a healthy pit bull that is properly raised will reflect the good care his owners have invested in him. If they have early positive experiences and good socialization, puppies will learn to play and communicate with both people and members of their own and other species, and will be less likely to show aggressive behavior as adults. In fact, many pit bulls are ideal for children because they can tolerate the rough and tumble play that kids can dish out.

However, if pit bulls or any breed are constantly chained outside, neglected and isolated from caring humans, they will be more likely to bite people and fight with other dogs.

To ban a whole breed does not get to the root of the problem and gives the public a false sense of security about the breeds that are not outlawed. It’s not the dog’s fault or the breeds – it’s the owners who misuse them.

Photo Credit

Our Founder Sylvia Wilson Nominated For 2014 Pet Industry Woman of the Year!

Hopefully, you have had the opportunity to meet a Bark Busters behavioral therapist. What you don’t realize is behind every dog trainer stands a remarkable woman whose passion for dogs is unparalleled in the industry. Sylvia Wilson, the COO of Bark Busters International, is not only part of the duo that founded our company (along with her husband, Danny Wilson) but she has been recently nominated for the 2014 Pet Industry Woman of the Year WIPN).

This is quite an honor and not Sylvia’s first. In 2006, she was recognized in BRW’s Top 10 Australian Women’s Entrepreneurs list. In 1998 she won the Testra, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and in 1999 she was inducted into the Australian Business Women’s Hall of Fame. Sylvia was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and immigrated to Australia with her parents when she was only 5-years-old. Sylvia met Danny when he came to Australia at age 26. They met at the RSPCA shelter that Sylvia managed for more than 10 years. In 1989, Bark Busters was formed and is now celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Although the winner will be announced at the Women in the Pet Industry Network (WIPN) conference on August 15, win or lose Sylvia is a winner in our eyes (okay, we may be a little prejudiced).  Here’s some important facts you may not know:

  • Bark Busters is the largest home dog training company in the world.
  • We have locations in 7 countries: the United States, Spain, Canada, Australia, The United Kingdom, Japan and New Zealand.
  • We are 350 locations strong.
  • Collectively we have trained over 1 million dogs.

Puppy Love Cover_2As we speak, her newest book – Puppy Love – is coming hot off the presses and is only available through your local Bark Busters dog trainer. She has also authored six other books including: Speaking Dog, The Bark Busters Guide to Dog Behavior and Training, How to Solve Your Dog’s Behavioural Problems, Bite Busters: How to Deal With Dog Attacks, Curing Your Dog’s Bad Habits, Training Dogs The Aussie Way.

Her devotion to dog training stems from the fact that she believes virtually every dog can be trained and should not be mistreated or euthanized for behavioral problems. “Many dog trainers are reluctant to deal with dogs that are aggressive, difficult to train or deemed dangerous and many dog owners surrender their dogs to shelters because they can’t handle their issues. We founded Bark Busters on the principle that the problem lies not with the dogs, but the way people try to communicate with them. You have to teach your dog in a language he/she understands.”

Hence, the bark Busters dog training method was developed as a way to train dogs using the “dog’s method of communication” based on a language the dog can understand. Using voice commands and body gestures, Danny and Sylvia were able to develop a method whereby dog problems could be solved in days versus weeks.

Sylvia and Danny recently moved to the United States, so expect some exciting new products and services being offered in the near future.

Join us in wishing Sylvia good luck!

The More People I Meet …

My BoysI am a Dad, a moniker I am proud of. I am happy to say I have two “perfect kids”. I know that everybody thinks their kids are the best and the cutest, but mine really are!

My two kids meet me at the front door if I’ve been gone, spin around in circles and are always happy to see me. They love me unconditionally and smother me with kisses. When I am sad they sense it, and try and comfort me by snuggling close … I have seen them literally lick tears from my eyes. And they are always ready to go on an adventure … all I need is a bowl and some treats. No lugging around diaper bags, play pens and bottles. No heavy suitcases to cart through an airport.

They never get angry, mad or moody. If I get angry, they might be upset for a second, but it quickly dissipates and they forget it ever happened… I don’t have to listen about it years later! They don’t keep me up at night worrying about their safety like most teenagers do.  They have never spoken an unkind word about me. How many people can you say that about?

When we are riding in the car, they let me pick the radio station I want to listen to. Imagine getting to listen to the music you actually like, versus “rap” blaring from your speakers!

They are my best confidantes. I can tell them anything and they can keep the secret. They are the best listeners, and never offer a negative opinion. They don’t nag or preach at me and unless they are sick, they always have a positive attitude.

They are pretty low maintenance. Like a toddler, I have to bathe them, brush their teeth daily and feed them.  Simple things.  I don’t have to worry that they don’t have enough clothes, the right “fashionable clothes” or that they have outgrown their clothes. And, they love my cooking! I don’t have to fix gourmet meals for them and they never complain that the meat is overcooked or the vegetables are undercooked. They are always in the clean plate club!

And they are my best workout buddies. I run 2 miles a day, and they keep up with me. On days that I don’t feel like running, they remind me that it is time to get up and go! They never complain about the heat or being tired. We play hide and seek, Frisbee and take long walks together also. They keep me young versus my teenagers who have put every gray hair on my head.

I have two boys. I never have to worry about them getting pregnant or bringing home a spouse that won’t be good for them! And smart? They are brilliant. All the “schooling” they needed was through Bark Busters and that took less than a month. Sure we did our homework together, but there was no expensive college tuition!

If you haven’t guessed it by now, I am the father of two male Labradors. It’s a role I love! As Mark Twain says: “the more I know about people, the more I like my dogs!”

So to all the dads out there, whether you’re the father of a human or canine, Happy Father’s Day. My boys and I are going to spend the day fishing and living the good life!

By: Todd Smith, Guest Blogger

National Dog Preparedness Month

The thing about a disaster is you never know when it is going to strike. When a hurricane, tornado or other catastrophe occurs, chaos usually ensues. That’s why it’s so important to not only have an emergency plan for your family, but your pet as well. We often don’t think about it until it’s too late. That’s what Natural Pet Preparedness Month is all about – to bring awareness to establishing an emergency preparedness plan.

What Your Emergency Pet Kit Should Contain

  • Food (your pet’s regular food)
  • Two week supply of medications
  • Two week supply of bottled water
  • Sturdy leash and collar with ID tags
  • First-aid kit including bandages, tape, tweezers and anti-bacterial ointment
  • Photocopies of health records and a recent photo taken of you with your pets or lost posters
  • Favorite toy or bedding (familiarity in unfamiliar surroundings)
  • Carrier or crate
  • Clean up supplies (poop bags and paper towels)
  • Contact information for local veterinarians, pet friendly hotel and shelters and family members willing to take in pets
  • Flashlight and batteries

A Safe Place
Where will you and your pets go if a hurricane is coming your way? What is the safest room in your house? If at all possible, take you pets with you. Animals left behind can be injured, lost or killed. If you must leave pets behind, secure them in a bathroom (with drinking water in the tub) and leave out plenty of food. Get a window decal so that rescue workers know there are pets in your home. These can be obtained from your local Bark Busters trainer.

Here’s a list of pet-friendly hotel websites:


After the Emergency
Having a “go bag” will help you evacuate quickly in an emergency! Once emergency officials say your environment is safe, walk pets on a leash until they are re-oriented to the area and your home. They may be a little freaked out! If you have lost your pet, contact local animal control officers to find where lost animals can be recovered.



Happy Mother’s Day To My “Dog Mom”

ocarWhen most people think of Mother’s Day, they think of Mom’s who have children. I’m a child too – I just happen to be a dog!

I am an 11-year-old Labrador mix named Oscar. My Mom rescued me from a shelter in Colorado when I was 4-years old. The shelter was horrible. The other dogs barked all night, some had diseases and others taunted me with their aggression. You definitely had to watch your back.

I was abused in my first home, left outside in freezing cold weather with no food or water. It was so bad, I ran away. Living on the streets seemed better than having an owner who beat me. I had some broken bones and my hips still hurt when it is cold outside.

Because I am a “black dog”, there was some prejudice against adopting me. Really? That is the silliest thing I have ever heard of. I languished at the shelter twice as long as other dogs, especially the puppies who everyone thought were so cute. So I had two strikes against me – I was a black dog and I was older. Couldn’t anyone see past my fur to know how much love I had to give? I wasn’t a bad dog. Okay, I picked up a few bad habits on the streets, but nothing that a little patience couldn’t fix.

Fortunately, my Mom didn’t have a black dog bias. When she walked into the shelter, my ears perked up. She had a kind voice and our eyes connected. It was love at first sight. And guess what? She picked me! Me, me, me!

A Rocky Start
Without a doubt, we had a few rough patches in the beginning as I got used to my new home. First of all I had a brother – a yellow lab named Buddy – who was used to being an only child and the “top dog.” We had some sibling rivalry going on. Second, I was afraid she was going to abandon me, so when she left the house I howled. I was not popular with the neighbors!

With the help of a Bark Busters dog trainer, my Mom got me straightened out. At first when she tried to kiss me I cowered, because I thought she was going to hit me like my old dog owner. Now I realize she is just giving me some loving! Now I am fiercely protective of her and my brother and if anyone tries to mess with them, they have to go through me first.

Thanks, Mom
So to my Mom, I say thank you. Thank you for giving me a forever home. Thanks for all the hugs, cuddles and the long walks we take. When I am sick, you take me to the vet and nurse me back to health. When I throw up accidentally in the house, you don’t scold me because you know I can’t help it. You give me medicine (which is icky tasting) to help with my bad hip. You brush out my long coat all the time so I look more handsome than ever. I don’t like it when you brush my teeth, clip my nails, or give me a bath, but I know you are probably doing it for my own good.

I have heard you humans say that a mother-child bond is often unconditional. I want my Mom to know I love her unconditionally too. Every day I am happy when she comes through the door. No matter how busy she is, she makes time for me. Being a doggie Mom is a 24/7 task that you don’t get paid for.

I just want you to know that you are the best doggie Mom in the world and I love you!