Is your dog’s bark worse than their bite? I remember this saying when I was a kid. It’s kind of like sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
Barking can be annoying as well as dangerous.
WHEN BARKING IS OKAY
Dogs bark for many reasons. They may be letting you know someone’s at the door, they need to go outside and go potty, or they may hear or see something. Then some dogs just bark to bark.
It’s okay for a dog to bark initially when guests come to your home or when they see or hear something that alarms them.
After the first bark they should be hushed, and you should command, “No Bark.” Then if they don’t stop barking you again give the command “No Bark!” and give them a squirt of bitter apple spray or a mixture I like to use–half apple cider vinegar and half water directly in their mouth (not in their nose or eyes as this may burn). When they stop barking you should praise them immediately “Good No Bark.”
Just as dogs can be taught not to bark, they can also be taught not to bite, but this requires bringing in a dog trainer, who specializes in dog aggression and behavior modification. People often call me the Dog Whisperer of Michigan or the Dog Lady. I work to rehabilitate biting dogs and aggressive dogs all over Michigan, so they can stay in their homes and won’t have to be put down. The results are phenomenal. 99% of the time these dogs are retrained and tamed.
Most of the dogs I work with give some kind of warning sign when they are about to bite.Their tail stops wagging, their lips curl, they bark or growl. But sometimes dogs give a warning bite–they don’t draw blood or break the skin, but they snap at you to tell you to back off.
In my eyes, these are the most dangerous dogs. Small dogs are often worse biters than large dogs. I’m currently working with a rat terrier who has bitten everyone in her family. She’s 5-6 years old and has been getting away with doing whatever she wants because her family is afraid if they take anything away from her or make her mind, she’ll bite.
She bit me at the end of our first training session. No warning, just snap and got me. Thankfully she didn’t break the skin or draw blood.
This is a great family who owns this Rat Terrier. They love their dog. But they didn’t know what to do and waited 6 years before getting this dog trained. If you have a dog that is barking or biting it needs training right away. The longer you wait, the worse the dog will become and it could hurt you or someone else. Then your dog may have to be put down. Whereas if you get your dog trained it will be an enjoyable member of the family.
Any dog that is a threat of biting needs to be muzzled. She was muzzled when the owner brought her to my home for training, but the muzzle was too loose and she had it off within the first five minutes. She seemed like a good dog and was working well with me, so I forgot for a moment that I was still working with an aggressive dog and put my hands in her space to close to her face to teach her the “down” command and she wasn’t having any of that and snapped.
A VARIETY OF TRAINING
Barking and biting dogs need a variety of training. They need to deal with issues within the home and family, but they also need to know how to behave in the world around them publicly. When choosing a trainer for your puppy or dog, make sure to do your homework and choose a trainer that offers various training methods with a mix of discipline and positive reinforcements both in private and group class settings to get you and your dog back to that healthy relationship you both can enjoy.
Lisa Freeman is an AKC Evaluator, Top Dog Trainer, Certified Pet Therapist, Dog Behavioral Specialist, Motivational Speaker, and Abuse Advocate. She specializes in dog obedience, pet therapy, and behavior modification. She travels all over Michigan and Ohio to work with bullies (people and dogs) to rehabilitate them and initially to stop bullying. A founder of two non-profits, she offers help, healing, rescue and recovery for the abused, hurting, and rejected. More into on speaking and training click here.