Getting a dog is a great responsibility. You commit to taking care of that little fur ball for the rest of his life, and, if you want that to be a happy life, you need to train him well from an early age.
If you live in the US or the UK, you must have heard of Bark Busters, their fancy vans seem to be everywhere and they get a lot of publicity.
If it’s your first dog, you should probably consider a dog trainer to help you out with educating your new pet, and Bark Busters seem like a good option. Or is it?
In this article we’ll have a look at why good early training is important and about the famous Bark Busters, their method, their prices and they’re success rate.
Why is dog training so important?
Experts say you need to start training your dog as soon as possible, preferably before they hit the 20 weeks milestone.
This is an important stage in a puppy’s brain development and the things he learns at this age will last a lifetime.
That’s not to say you cannot train a dog past this age. You totally can, only it will be a harder job.
Some new pet parents might be wondering why training is so important. Isn’t it enough to love your dog and take good care of him? Love is essential, indeed, but training is part of that good care we’re talking about.
It’s the same as with toddlers. Love is not enough, you have to teach a kid how to behave, what things are allowed and what aren’t.
Wanting to have a well-behaved and obedient dog is not a selfish thing. It’s not for your comfort you’re doing it, or not only for that, but also for the dog’s own good.
Let’s say you have a dog that spends half of the night barking and howling.
It will certainly drive you crazy, as well as your neighbors.
It’s bad for all concerned, including the dog.
You’re in for a lot of trouble, you will be tempted to punish the dog and, if everything fails, you’ll start considering giving him up.
Bad behavior is one of the main reasons people abandon a dog.
You cannot blame a dog for misbehaving if he wasn’t taught how to behave in the first place.
Surprisingly, less than 5% of all the dogs in the US receive some sort of formal training.
Many try various training methods on their own, but unless you’re very good at it, it might not be enough.
It’s not just about barking.
A dog needs to be taught how to walk on the street and how to react in various situations, like interacting with strangers or not trying to eat anything they might come across during their walk, etc.
What are the main reasons for dogs being disobedient?
This is one of the most frequent complaints dog owners have – their pets have an obedience problem.
While genes might play a part in this type of behavior, the main reason dogs are disobedient is that they were never properly trained.
You can teach your dog basic commands like Sit or Leave it, but you might be shocked to discover they only obey you when it suits them.
Basically, they’re not well-trained at all.
In some cases, dogs become disobedient and destructive when they’re bored. A dog that doesn’t get enough mental or physical stimulation will vent its frustrations by misbehaving.
You should take that as a cry for help and do something to make him feel better.
Is there a link between disobedience and aggression in dogs?
Aggression can be an inborn trait in dogs, which is why experts recommend that you spend some time with the parents before taking a puppy home.
However, most behavioral problems in dogs are caused by lack of proper training. Also, a spoiled dog, always treated like a person, will tend to be more aggressive. This brings us back to the need to find a good trainer for your pet.
Who are Bark Busters?
The company was created in Australia in 1989 by two dog trainers Sylvia and Danny Wilson.
Both had many years of experience working with the RSPCA in New South Wales and they shared the same views on basic dog training methods.
The company grew into a franchise operating in seven countries at present, including the United States, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Spain.
In the US they have several trainers in every state and they claim they have trained more than 1 million dogs worldwide, which is quite impressive.
If you’re interested in contacting them, you can use the Find a trainer feature on their website.
How do they help dog owners?
Bark Busters trainers offer one-on-one training sessions, usually at the dog’s home.
Their belief is that most behavioral problems start at home and they’re probably right.
Although many other dog training companies offer classes with many canine pupils, Bark Busters’ philosophy is that socializing with other pets can be disruptive and the dog won’t pay attention to the trainer.
Many pet owners like to have a trainer come to their home as it is more convenient, but quite a lot of them are baffled or downright appalled by Bark Busters’ teaching methods.
The main idea behind the Bark Busters method is that you need to teach your pet who’s the alpha dog in the house.
That would be you, and the dog is to obey you at all times.
Their reasoning is that wolves live in packs and it’s natural for a dog to cower in front of the alpha male.
Their training method is all about making the dog cower in front of their owner.
The actual training and the tricks they use to instill fear in a dog raise a lot of concern among people, to say the least.
One of their favorite tricks is to throw a sack containing a heavy rattling chain right near the dog to scare the hell out of him when the dog is misbehaving.
Small dogs are indeed quite scared by such a display of violence, while others look at the trainer like he’s some sort of lunatic.
Positive reinforcement is out of the question with Bark Busters.
Don’t even try to suggest you’re willing to offer your pet a small treat every time he does something right.
Saying ‘Good dog’ and giving him a pat on the head are also forbidden.
Bark Busters mainly use fear to train a dog into submission and a lot of people in the dog training business say this is plainly wrong.
The alpha dog dominance theory has been debunked years ago, so many consider the Bark Busters method not only outdated, but also potentially dangerous.
They say that using fear to control a dog might make the animal more aggressive and this is something you definitely do not want.
What are Bark Busters prices?
The actual price for a training session depends on your location and what trainers are available in your area, but the general consensus is that they are pretty expensive.
You might get a quote of $300 for a 2-3 hours session, but the price can get as high as $600 per session.
You can also purchase packages, like the lifetime support package that costs around $900.
That might seem like a good deal, having someone to call upon any time you have a problem with your dog, but the fact is most people don’t. You will call them once or twice, but if you keep having problems you won’t be calling the same guys over and over, so it’s not really much of a deal.
Does Bark Buster training work?
If you visit Bark Busters homepage you will find literally thousands of excellent reviews.
According to the company, 99% of their customers are more than happy with their services.
However, if you search various forums a completely different picture starts to emerge.
Some listen to what the trainer has to say during the session quietly shaking their head and resign themselves to having just wasted a few hundred dollars.
Many feel that one session is not enough, not to mention that no dog is capable of paying attention to a stranger for 2 or 3 hours.
Also, many pet owners are reluctant to employ the training methods described by the Bark Busters trainer.
Would you go about throwing things at your dog to scare him?
The fundamental problem is that while all pet owners want a well-behaved dog, few would be happy having a trained robot hiding under the table when the alpha dog walks in.
Who are Bark Busters competitors?
The national average for a dog training class in the US is around $50.
You can find a dog trainer in your area charging as little as $30 or it can cost as much as $80, and that’s for a group session.
Your dog will probably need several classes, so you’re looking at around $500 to train your pet.
Obedience training costs somewhere between $45 and $120 for a 45-60 minutes private session.
There are many other companies like Bark Busters, and some of them, like the Canine Company, strive to make training fun for the dog.
Their prices range from $149 for a single session to $999 for nine sessions.
Also, Off Leash K9 training offers one-on-one sessions starting at $100.
Do Bark Busters offer a refund?
Not really. Clients unhappy with the results of the training session with the Bark Buster trainer have reported it is nearly impossible to get your money back.
Instead, the company offers lifelong support for any problems you might have with your dog.
Basically, what they say is that if the dog continues to bark, bite or whatever they’ll come in for a new session, then another one… until you give up.
Also, if you decide to give the dog to someone else, you can transfer the Bark Busters support to the new owner, for an additional $300.
On the other hand, if the dog has some behavioral issues you’d better not mention them to the new owner, or Bark Busters.
Just hope the new owner will come up with their own training method that might actually work.
Training your dog is important and hiring a professional may be your best bet if you’re not an expert.
Bark Busters have created a lot of hype around them, but before you hire them you should have a look at their methods and decide if this is what you want for your pet. It’s not about the money.
They’re not the cheapest on the market, but other training companies might be even more expensive.
Also, you might want to look for a good independent trainer in your area.
Talk to other dog owners and see if they can recommend someone, preferably someone who loves animals and doesn’t rely on fear to instill obedience into a dog.