Stopping Your Dog’s Destructive Behaviors

Have you ever come home to find the stuffing that was supposed to be in your couch on your living room floor? Or your favorite shoes chewed to shreds? Or the toilet paper strewn all over the house?

Although it is normal for many puppies to chew, when their behavior becomes destructive, it’s time to do something about it. In fact, destructive behaviors are the number one reported behavior problem in dogs. Understand that a dog is NOT doing it to make you angry.

Most often, dogs engage in destructive behaviors when they are bored, not trained properly, scared, aggressive, or anxious. Just as many dog owners chew on their nails or have a glass of wine when they are nervous, dogs will lick, chew, dig or toilet in the house when they are nervous.

Why Dogs Engage in Destructive Behaviors
The first thing you need to do is rule out any medical problems your dog may be experiencing. Here are some other reasons dogs may become destructive and tips for overcoming this behavior:

  1. Puppies especially see destructive play as a way of exploring. By nature, they are curious and will often chew or dig excessively. It is important to establish boundaries for your dog so he knows what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
  2. The old adage that “tired dogs are good dogs” is true. Dogs need to be exercised regularly to help them with all their pent up energy and to keep them in shape. It is important to walk with your dog or play with your dog. Dogs often wake up raring to go, so before you start your day, play fetch or take your dog for a walk.
  3. Separation anxiety. Your dog may follow you from room to room or become anxious as you are leaving. The most common time of the day that your dog is likely to be destructive is when you’re away at work or out doing things away from the house. Your dog can feel lonely, isolated, or unloved. Try leaving the TV or radio on so he has some noise to stimulate him.
  4. Attention-seeking. Without realizing it, many dog owners pay the most attention to their dogs when they are in trouble by correcting them. Dogs love attention even if it is “negative attention.” Make sure you give your dog praise and kudos and a lot of reinforcement for good behaviors.
  5. Noise phobias. Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, fireworks, or loud noises. Sometimes dogs will scratch at doors in an effort to get out. Create a safe place for your dog to stay during thunderstorms. A crate or kennel may be comforting. Try to distract your dog with activities like play or brushing.

Punishment is not very effective in stopping your dog’s destructive behaviors and can in fact make them worse.  If you discover an item your dog has chewed even a few minutes after the fact, it’s too late to correct him. He does not associate his action to your reaction. You know that guilty look you think you are getting? It is really just your dog reacting to your angry tone or facial expressions.

To truly eliminate destructive behaviors, call your Bark Busters dog trainer. We will teach you how to issue commands to counteract destructive behaviors!

The Horrors of Dog Dumping

photo (18)_2Having moved recently to rural Texas, I was out in our yard trying to combat the poison oak and weeds that seem to be as prolific as the fire ants. I was riding peacefully on my lawn mower when I spotted something moving in the woods. Having been warned about snakes, deer, pigs and other critters inhabiting the woods, I was instantly “on alert.”

Instead of making a slow dash to the house, I turned off the lawn mower and suddenly spotted a small, dark creature that I recognized as a puppy of some sort.  It took me a while to coax him to come to me. What I saw saddened me. This dog was so malnourished, he could barely move. His ribs were jutting out and he was frightened of any human contact. He was limping, dehydrated and starved. He had no identifying tags and was in such bad shape, I assumed he was no one’s “pet.”

However, just in case, I gingerly took him around to my neighbors, who explained he was a “dump dog.” A dump dog I said? In my naiveté, I couldn’t imagine anyone abandoning this poor creature.

I have worked for Bark Busters as a freelance marketing consultant for years. I have heard about their mission to save dogs that have been abandoned, mistreated or abused. I have written about it, but I had never seen it firsthand. To say I was horrified was an understatement! Who could dump a dog like a piece of garbage?

Yes I understand dogs can be expensive with their food, vaccinations and preventative treatments. I have two dogs, one which we rescued from a shelter. However, if you have even one dog, you have a responsibility to take care of that dog.

Did this dog suddenly become inconvenient? Did they have a baby in the family and the dog became too much of a burden? Did they move into a new place that doesn’t allow pets?

I tried to think of all the excuses a dog owner could use. However, “dumping” the dog was inexcusable.

At a minimum, if you don’t want a litter of puppies, get your female spayed. There are many low cost clinics that offer vaccinations for free. You can contact your local Humane Society for a list.  Also, if you can no longer take care of your dog for whatever reason, do the humane thing and take him to a responsible shelter or rescue group.

I carried the dog inside our house. He was famished and I resisted the urge to over-feed him because I knew he would get sick. He laid on my lap and probably would still be there if I didn’t need to work.

My initial thought was to nurse him back to health and then take him to the local shelter. After all, I truly don’t need another dog … and a puppy no less! So I resisted naming him for the first couple of days, fooling myself that I wouldn’t get attached.

However, knowing that some shelters have to euthanize dogs because of overcrowding, I just couldn’t abandon him – he had already been abandoned once. His soulful eyes tugged at my heart. After all, all he asked for was some love.

Meet Lucky, the newest member of our pack! Next time you see him he will be heavier and healthier!

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