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This is the latest question of the week. Each week we answer one of the submitted questions and publish it here.

Helen asks...

This question is about: Aggression to a dog or other animal or where the dog is aggressive to the owner or a stranger

Three weeks ago we adopted Bowie from the dog's home. He is excellent with me and my partner but when we have visitors he growls and has nipped two recent visitors. What advice can you give us to help with this problem?

Hi Helen. Bowie is being a little protective in his new territory, he now has a new pack, so is feeling unsure of many things. Use the word you use to correct any behaviour  as it is happening (not after) and also if you think he is about to do it also, stop him before it happens. Say it in a deep growling tone, he needs to look at your when you use this word. When he does praise him.  Don't use his name though, thats only to be used for positive things, like come and good boy etc. Don't comfort him at all when he feels anxious. He needs to know you are there to keep him safe by being consistent with your training as 'his' pack leaders. Growing is a warning and is never to be ignored but addressed immediately using your correction word - letting him know it is not acceptable - ever as is  nipping this is a dog putting the visitors into their place. Again never unacceptable.  I strongly suggest that you train Bowie to stay on his mat/rug when he is inside, and not get off it when visitors arrive unless you say so. Also ask your visitors to ignore him until he is settled.   It is your job to greet them not his. Train Bowie indoors to follow you, not lead, he must not go through any doors or stairs/steps ahead of you, so use the door the train him to wait (close it firmly using your correction word) before you open it and once he is waiting patiently you proceed to go through it first then he still  waits until you invite him through. In your yard train him to follow the leader (you) not be the leader, so off lead walk around your yard, anytime Bowie get ahead of you just tap the top of your leg and turn and walk in opposite direction calling him to you happily.  Keep doing this until he finally gets it and walks beside or behind you.  Praise him whenever he is doing as you want. On our website we have lots of helpful ideas in our 'free tips' section, so feel free to go into our barkbusters.com.au  website and view them, they can also be downloaded.  We also have a great book you might be interested in. Hope this helps - do enjoy Bowie with the right direction and education from you Bowie will know he has found his forever home. Val
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Nicki asks...

This question is about: Hyperactivity Jumping up at visitors or the dog jumps up at people on walks Pulling on the Lead

Was a Barkbusters client in 1996 in Melbourne. My then GS and me benefited hugely. Since then I have had 4 more GSs - all good. Sally just turned 1 and has a very different personality. She knows the basics but we are struggling. She is wilful yet a loving soul. We tried local Puppy School but others were afraid of her. She is a big girl and wants to play. Socializing has been an issue here. I take her for 2 x 1.5 hr walks a day. She is defensive when seeing other dogs and people. We live alone. I just can't get her to calm down and listen.

Hi Nicki, Having used Bark Busters  system previously you understand that she needs to see you as the pack leader.  To her a strong and consistent pack leader means safety.  

Do not allow her to walk ahead of you off lead in your yard area or inside if she is a indoor dog. If she gets ahead of you turn around and walk in another direction happily asking her to 'follow' you. and keep going until she walks behind or beside you.  In a park or out the front of your home do this exercise on lead and a Bark Busters communication collar. Do not allow her out of a door ahead of you, use the door and our correction word as you close the door quickly before she pushed past you.  Wait until you say 'free' then invite her out.  On our BB lead & BB collar & lead daily programming is essential, make sure she is focused on you. Sit stay walking slowly on a loose lead a collar are all things you may remember from your original lessons.  These remain the same. Female dogs 'can be' a lot tougher to train, strong willed and like to be the pack leader , so make sure when she pushed the envelope to test you as the pack leader, that you push it right back and always end a training session on a win for you.  

Bec asks...

This question is about: Barking at people, dogs, animals, birds or where the dog barks for attention or at the slightest noise Toileting

My Edie is 2 years and 4 months, she has recently had a litter of 7 puppies all who have left except for one which I kept. Edie and the pup get along great however a couple of times now Edie has peed on the bed. I caught her in the act doing it a few weeks ago and smacked her and put her outside. Since the rest of the puppies have gone and Kenzi has stayed Edie refuses to wee outside when I take her out first thing in the morning like she normally would, I'm not sure if it's from the following things:rnThat I smacked her from seeing her weernThat it's cold and wet outsidernThat the puppy will follow her when she is trying to go to the toilet.rnEdie is an inside dog and I will often find wees in the house after I get home, not sure if this is because the puppy will have accidents inside...rnEdie is also mostly a quiet dog but barks at an unusual noise, barks at all males even if driving past them and when people come to the house. rnPlease help.

Hi Bec, Edie is marking her territory, so I suggest that you keep your bedroom door closed so she cannot have access to your bedroom unless you are in there..  Even then, providing a crate at night for your dogs to sleep in so they have their own safe den like area will certainly help with toileting.  They also need to be in a confined area when you are at work and they are left alone, not have the whole house free to roam in as the puppy will certainly have accidents until fully trained. This takes time and patients. Edie is possibly marking over those accidents with her own. 

Please never smack a dog,we have seen this type physical punishment lead to aggression in many instances. It can also can lead to a real fear of hands hands and an innocent child  or adult might get bitten in the future when they go to pat her.  She will remember that smack.  Clean up any accidents using bi-carb of soda diluted in warm water (neutralises the urine smell) and make sure you use a paper towel to absorb excess urine moisture first.  It goes right through to the underlay so make sure you soak it all up well and then clean those areas thoroughly. ( test diluted bi-carb of soda on a small obscure area first to make sure its safe on the carpet you have, it will make it look very clean).  Refrain from using nice smelling cleaning products as these often attract a dog back to that area.  You need to be leaving the dogs outside a bit more when you are home so they have time to toilet on their own. Also taking them outside often for toileting purposes.  You can also leave their water outside so they will learn that is where they drink and toilet when outside rather than indoors. 

On our website under 'free training tips' you will find lots of helpful advice one of which is on barking, which you can download and read.  Barking is not a behaviour tht should be ignored and councils are getting quite strict with this due to the high number of complaints they receive Australia wide. Good luck with your training, enjoy your dogs and rememeber  toileting takes time and patients, so please don't give up.  

Meagan asks...

This question is about: Barking at people, dogs, animals, birds or where the dog barks for attention or at the slightest noise

Hi there, Our Basset hound is the most loving, gentle and calm dog around us and our other Basset. However, around strangers and other dogs he is not! When he sees another dog he barks like crazy. When a stranger comes up to him or tries to pat him he also barks and growls and has lunged once but never bitten. He is not aggressive, just seems scared and anxious.

Hi Meagan.Your Basset has taken on the role of Top Dog and is protecting you.  Please remember that not all dogs like being approached by either other dogs or strangers.  If you did not know someone and they came up and tried to give you a hug, you would react also. All he can do is bark, growl.or lunge to try and protect you.  Dogs need a strong pack leader, which must be the humans, so you can make them feel safe no matter where you are. If you provide that pack safety for them then they will know everything is alright in their world and settle down.  . Use the word you use (never his name though ) when he does something you are not happy with.  If you watch him closely his body language will tell you he is not happy, so address and correct him before he reacts. When he growls this is a warning, and any growling, no matter at what, should never be accepted by an owner. Make sure you enter and exit all doors and gates before your dog. Make him wait and then invite him in our out.  If you have stairs, place him on loose lead and take one step at a time, he must walk beside you never get to the top or bottom of stairs/steps ahead of you.   The leader leads, in the dog world  so this should  never be a dog in our human world. Walk around your yard and whenever he gets ahead of you turn and walk the other way, taping the top of your leg and calling him happily to follow you.Keep doing this exercise until he starts to walk beside or behind you, thus respecting you as the leader not him. Do this with both dogs, always train each dog separately.  They both need you to be top dog and provide that safety aspect they both need.  Do this on a 6 foot lead in the park also, he needs to know you are leader in all areas. Never comfort him (i.e. saying things like "its OK"  or"don't be silly"   when he misbehaves, this  only reinforces to him he is doing the righ thing. Hope this helps. 

Tammarra asks...

This question is about: Aggression to a dog or other animal or where the dog is aggressive to the owner or a stranger Digging Hyperactivity

Hi,rnrnI am looking around at different obedience schools for my 13 week old amstaff puppy. rnrnWe got him at 8 weeks old and he has been good at learning the basics like sit, stay, wait and knows his dinner time and bed time. rnWe take him for regular walks every night when we get home from work and on our days off he gets 2 to 3 walks a day.rnrnWe have a problem the last 4 weeks with his biting. It's getting out of control and no amount of toys, vinegar spray, time out is helping him if anything it is making his bites more aggressive. rnHe has also picked up a bad digging habit in the last week. rnrnI would appreciate an email of prices of how much it will to train my puppy as I don't want to get rid of him.rnrnThank you.

Hi Tammarra, Puppies are so cute  but they do come with lots of naughty behaviour at time. Please do not use vinegar spray, to address naughty behaviour as it stings. Just imagine if someone used it on you, I think you might become aggressive to .  Just use plain water - nothing else.  Dogs are dogs and do not understand time out - they look at that very differently than us humans - that is something we use with kiddies and this will never work with dogs. We cover everything in our in home puppy lessons, how to communicate effectively so he understands what you do and do not want, along  the correct way to walk, so the dog learns never to pull ahead, along with important door/gate control, toileting, mouthing, jumping, recall and help you put some rules in place so his behaviour issues do not escalate or eventuate. Peter is your wonderful local trainer,  and can quickly get you on the right path. 

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