By: Joel Allen
Back in the 70's, I had a dog by the name of Little Girl. Little Girl's mother was a dachshund and her father was a pitbull. LOL…you can imagine what she looked like; but I tell you, besides being a little short, she had the head and body of a pitbull. She was very protective of her family, and one day the power man came to read the meter at our home in Montgomery. We lived in the county, so our dogs ran free. Back then, pepper spray was still unheard of, but the power utility man had a can. Well, Little Girl came charging at him and the man sprayed her. That only made things worse, and he barely made it to his car while my dog was chasing him with her eyes squinted shut from the spray and her making a face between a snarl and a sneeze…LOL. She was never sprayed again after that. And she had made her point, don't come onto the property uninvited!
Please, no one think I am saying pepper spray your dog. No, we are going a different route on this subject. First, I want everyone to buy an unused spray bottle or even a squirt gun, and if it is a super soaker, then so be it. Then, buy a bottle of vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar). Now, here is the formula to use – 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water. Ensure the spray nozzle is set for stream, so distance may be covered when spraying at the dog. Now, let us wait for that unwanted behavior to start.
Barking at the door: Let's say someone is at your door. The dog is barking. Reach over and get your spray bottle, aim, and shoot for the face. Most of the time the dog's back is to you, so spray the butt first, and when the dog turns, spray for the face hitting the eyes and nose. Do not walk up and spray the dog point blank in the face. If your visitor is deliberately antagonizing the dog, spray your visitor, but still spray the dog, too, so as to deter the barking.
Jumping: A visitor arrives at your home and the dog wants their attention and jumps up and down placing its paws all over the new person. If the person is not encouraging this behavior, spray the dog. But, if the visitor is encouraging said bad behavior, spray the person, they deserve it; and the dog sees what happens to the human for behaving badly thus discouraging more bad behavior.
Grabbing what is not theirs and running: This is for the dog that grabs your shoes or items it has no business grabbing. By now, your aim should be improving, and I suggest spraying for the eyes and nose telling the dog to drop the item it has stolen. Small dogs tend to run and get under furniture or a bed thinking they are safe from the spray. Don't allow them to get away! Reach down and spray under the furniture or bed and don't forget to aim. When they have been told to "drop it" and they comply, then retrieve the stolen item and show your disapproval.
Bad behavior during walks: The spray bottle comes in handy during walks if your dog has a hard time getting along with others. If your dog growls, spray it and show your disapproval. This can be used to counter aggression toward people and other dogs. But remember, if there becomes an aggression issue where one was not present before, then something may have happened to trigger this behavior. Further investigation into the matter may be needed.
Beware that if young children are in the family, the spray bottle can be misused. So, keep it out of the children's reach. One morning while everyone was asleep, a little boy got up before his family did, and he decided to go get the spray bottle and spray the family dog while it was crated. Thankfully, his mother heard the commotion of the dog growling and barking. When she found the boy and saw what he was doing, she sat him down and sprayed him to show him how it felt. LOL…he cried but when asked if he was ever going to do that again he said no! Sometimes the punishment should fit the crime.
These are just some ways to use the spray bottle to correct bad behavior. As your dog becomes a better dog, it will listen every time it sees that spray bottle being grabbed, and it may be wise to invest in a few spray bottles to place strategically around the house. Everyone should also note that lemon juice will work in the place of vinegar. If the formula is not strong enough, reverse it, and if that seems not to work, go full force or undiluted. Also, remember that some dogs are just plain immune to this correction, but in most cases this works.
Now folks, I need to make a few announcements. I am back writing. It seems I have gotten out of the rut I was in and have returned to write for the “Dog Barker.” Also, many of you know that I have been using Pet Depot as my training headquarters since 2010. That chapter is coming to a close and on good terms. My new training headquarters will be on East Limestone Road and it will be at the future site of Paws and Whiskers Boutique. April 21, 2018, will be our last day training at the Pet Depot. So, make plans to come out to East Limestone Road for all your training needs, and yes, we will still be offering private lessons, too.
By: Joel Allen