Rocco, a slobbering male boxer, sits at his perch in the window of Barbara Larimer’s house in Hayden Village. He spots a tall man walking up the stairs towards his house, and lets loose a torrent of barks.
The man walking up the stairs is Lee Trimble, a dog behavioral therapist and trainer from Bark Busters, an international dog training company that takes a non-physical approach to dog training. Trimble claims he can correct any dog’s front door behavior – including Rocco’s – in less than five minutes.
“If we don’t gain success,” said Trimble, “we walk away without charging.”
TRIMBLE got his chance recently at a training session in Larimer’s house in Clifton. All Bark Buster training takes place in the owner’s home in the presence of the owner.
“If a dog goes away to training, the dog may learn something, but he will not gain the respect of the owner,” said Trimble.
Upon entering the house, Trimble introduced himself to Rocco, who barked and charged up the stairs. Trimble sat down with Larimer and explained the methods Bark Busters uses for training. Rocco roamed free during the presentation, coming down from the stairs and occasionally venturing forward to sniff the newcomer.
Bark Busters training uses praise as a reward, and does not rely on treats or punishments. Using a system of verbal and body languages, Bark Busters teaches a dog to respect its owner by establishing the owner as the alpha dog. Rocco thinks he’s the leader of the pack,” explained Trimble. “He thinks he can reprimand anyone coming though the door.”
In a dog’s mind, love and respect are different things. While dogs will love their owners almost immediately, they will not respect them immediately. If an owner does not establish that he or she is in control – that he or she is the alpha dog – the dog will think it controls the house.
“Dogs are good people trainers,” said Trimble. “If you give him your attention as soon as he comes over, he’s training you. He doesn’t always give you his attention when you call out to him.”
Little things can make a big difference to a dog in terms of leadership and control. In the wild, the alpha dog is aloof. When members of its pack constantly seek the leader’s attention, he or she may snap at and reprimand the attention-seeking dog.
Trimble told Larimer that she should ignore Rocco whenever the dog comes up and seeks attention. “Wait until he gives up and walks away,” Trimble explained. “When you call him back, it’s on your terms.”
TRIMBLE began the training exercises by teaching Larimer to reprimand Rocco. The reprimand, simulating the reprimanding actions of an alpha dog to members of its pack, involved no hitting or other forms of physical punishment. Trimble instructed her to issue the reprimand as soon as the dog commits a bad behavior.
Once she has the dog’s attention with the reprimand, Trimble explains that she should issue a command using a normal-toned voice. Once the dog has completed the command, she should immediately praise it, speaking in high tones.
Trimble also explained the necessity of reprimanding bad behavior only during the act. If not, the dog will not associate the reprimand with the act. By immediately reprimanding during bad acts, and immediately praising during good acts, a dog will quickly learn what is right and wrong. By being firm with reprimands and praise, the dog will learn to respect its master.
TO BEGIN the front door training, Trimble leaves the house and walks away, making sure the dog sees him walk away from his perch in the window. After waiting a few moments, he walks back towards the house making as much noise as possible to ensure that the Rocco knows of his approach.
Rocco barks, Larimer issues a reprimand, then praise. Rocco barks again – another reprimand, more praise. Barbara Larimer opens the door, and Rocco is gone, having flown into the kitchen and then up the stairs. “The dog is registering the fact that he was punished for being territorial,” said Trimble.
Bark Busters charges a one-time fee regardless of how many times a trainer visits a client’s home. Training with a one-year guarantee costs $350, and a lifetime guarantee costs $445. “We come back as often as needed,” said Trimble.
Call Bark Busters at 877-280-7100 or visit the Web at www.barkbusters.com.