The City Is After My Barking Dog.

Q: Help my dog is disturbing the peace.  As soon as I open the back door, my dog runs outside and starts to bark until we bring them back in.  One of my neighbors called the police once on me already. But what can I do, my dog does have to go outside once in a while.

“The SOUND OF SILENCE is a beautiful thing”, says Gregg Henson Radio Host for 97.1 FM. His three dogs were always barking 24/7. Now he thoroughly enjoys the sound of silence in his house, after training with Alternative Canine Training. Barking is just symptoms to a deep rooted problem.  You can always put a bark collar on a lonely, bored dog that is locked up in a kennel behind the garage.  The dog may now be quiet, however; the dog will still be lonely and bored.

No matter what the symptoms are, your dog is barking for just three major reasons

  1. Alarm barking is a low pitch woof, woof
    1. It means your dog thinks he is a police officer on duty.
    2. That means that he is Alpha and you have a problem of leadership in your household.
  2. Separation anxiety is a high pitch frustrated type of the barking.
  3. Your dog is bored and has nothing to do or he just likes to bark

Dogs do not need to bark to communicate, relieve frustration, or to be happy.   Barking dogs are actually expressing the exact opposite emotion. To understand you need to look at why dogs bark. If you have ever walked through a typical neighborhood that has fences and you walk past a house with multiples dogs, they may suddenly start fighting.  Why? Because, only the top dog in a pack does the barking or the protecting. The top dog might consider you to be a threat to their territory, but the dog barking next to them is a threat to their social position. This social position is far more important than the territorial threat. They will put the other dog in its place, and then worry about you and the territory. This is why if a dog knows and understands that you are top dog, they will gladly give you the job of barking at intruders.

We see this time and time again that once we make it no longer the dog’s business to bark at everything, along with implementing our special program, the dog becomes calm, relaxed and happy. Their eyes are no longer darting nervously around looking at who and what they should bark at or worry about. They are also no longer frustrated.

Yes, some breeds are genetically more prone to bark.  Shelties are one breed that tends to be notorious barkers. Beagles and many of your hounds were bred to bark, their loud bay bark allowed a hunter to follow the dog to the game.  Terriers tend to be a little territorial and bark to tell everyone, that wherever they are, they own it. Silence can be achieved with these breeds but it will take a little more work.

Often time’s owners express the desire to have their dogs bark. It makes them feel more secure because they want their dogs to protect the house. The problem arises when they can’t get the dog to be quiet or the dog starts to carry this protectiveness one step further.    Yes, someday this dog might bite. You can’t have your cake and eat it to.  If you work now with getting your dog not to bark then, in the long run, when your dog is finally fully mature and you become lax with training, your dog might still start barking when someone is at the door but that will be fine, since now you can say, “Thank You for telling me someone is at the door, now be quiet”. The dog will be quiet as it is your position to bark or protect.

Obviously, prevention is worth a pound of cure.  If you worked on making your dog be quiet while it is a puppy, then keeping it quiet as an adult is simple. If you didn’t give the puppy proper structure and guidance, the dog will take it upon themselves to be the leader and start their new job which is “barking”.

So how do we get them to stop barking? For puppies, first of all never let your puppy out of the kennel when they whine or bark because this will be the start of them barking. When a puppy starts barking, often times by just saying loudly “aaaght, quiet” and then clapping your hands or tapping the top of their crate will stop the barking. Once again, we need to find what behavioral interruptible approach will work based on your dog’s temperament. This means that using whatever negative sound will interrupt the bad behavior so we can praise the good behavior. If your dog hates water, try using a squirt bottle. You might try using noise devices as your second option. A thrown “shaking can” or plastic water bottle with 4 to 5 pennies or washers inside it will get their attention. NEVER hit the dog with these items. Remember that you are just tossing them in the dog’s direction along with saying “aaaght” to stop the barking. You could also try an ultrasonic device or the “Pet Convincer”. If you have a bullet-proof type of dog, than you might need to invest in a citronella collar.  You can also teach the dog to bark on command but then never give the command. We would only recommend a bark collar as a last resort or if the owner lived in an apartment or condo and was about to be evicted. If you stay diligent and correct the dog every time they bark, the barking will soon stop. You can have the sound of silence.

December 2, 2019 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

Traumatic Experience at The Vet’s Office, Not My Dog

Going to the veterinarian’s office doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.  There are several things that you can do in advance and while you are there, to keep the experience from being traumatic.

  1. Happy veterinary visit: Make a visit with your dog to the vet’s office just to say “Hello”.  Most Veterinary offices encourage these happy treat visits. Walk in the office and give a treat to the staff to give to your dog.  Now your dog gets treats and some pets, this place is fun!
  2. Try to stay calm yourself: Being nervous makes your dog nervous.  I know you may be very nervous yourself, worrying about what the vet might find, however; it is no different than taking a child to the doctors.  If you act worried and relay this to a child by saying, “don’t worry it won’t hurt a bit, you’ll be OK”, the child might refuse to get out of the car. Instead talk to your dog as if you were just going over to a friend’s house.
  3. Keep your dog safe while at the vet’s: Not all dogs want a young enthusiastic dog running up to them, especially if they are not feeling well.  Keep your dog under control by keeping them in a ‘sit’ or a ‘down stay’.  You can also take their favorite toy and try to keep them focused on you, not the other dogs.
  1. Be proactive and desensitize: Make sure to accustom your dog to being touched and handled before the veterinary visit. Dogs accustomed to being touched won’t mind when the ear scope is put in their ear or their teeth are being looked at.  Hence, instead of fighting back and feeling threatened, your dog will think they are getting petted.
  2. Teach them to stand and stay: This will make your veterinarian’s job easier in examining your dog. If the dog is constantly moving around, the veterinarian may miss something.

Even if you are lucky and you only have to take your dog to the veterinary once a year for their vaccinations, by following these steps your dog won’t mind going to doctor at all.


November 2, 2019 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

Why Does My Dog Dig?

QUESTION:  My Siberian Husky has a problem, he loves to dig. He seems to only enjoy digging in dirt and rarely digs in the grass area.

Digging can become a very expensive hobby for you and your dog.  If only you could get him to dig were you wanted, you could hire him out to a landscaping company.  After all, your excavating, landscaping, Siberian husky just needs a job.

Dogs dig for several reasons;

  • Some are hardwired in their breed traits.  We routinely see owners of Terriers, whose backyards look like they have been through a major excavation.
  • Some of them dig because they have nothing else to do, they are bored.
  • Some digging starts when the warm weather arrives. Since the earth is still cooler, a couple of inches down, dogs dig to cool down. They dig a nice cool spot.
  • Some dogs dig for recreation, because it is fun and is a sense of accomplishment.  I always think of children at the beach building sand castles.  It is a lot of fun and also a sense of accomplishment because it stays there after they have left.

When a puppy learns that something is fun, they will continue to do this as an adult dog. This is why it is so important to supervise your puppy or new dog, when they are left outside to their own demise.  The other most important thing is to make sure that you exercise your dog.  Give them physical and mental exercise by doing obedience in the area that they dig.  A tired dog is a good dog. If you get your dog to run as fast as he can for 15 – 20 minutes twice a day and you have stimulated his mind through obedience; then he will be too busy and too tired to dig up your yard.

Dogs do not learn in the same way we learn.  They are more like teenagers; you can no longer tell them anything, they know it all.  Often Teenagers can only learn by the consequence of their behavior. Dogs only learn by the consequence of their behavior, whether it is positive or negative. Positive will increase a behavior and negative will decrease the behavior. This is why if you let the environment correct the dog, they learn very quickly.

One of the oldest procedures and simplest for stopping unwanted digging is do a little poop patrol in your yard and instead of disposing of the feces, deposit it in the hole.  Nothing ruins a person’s walk in the park more than stepping in a pile of someone else’s dog poop, nor for a dog when digging and finding that their paws have a most peculiar odor.  If you catch them in the act of digging, yell loudly “ Aaaah No Dig”, “What do you think you’re doing?”  You can also loudly clap your hands or use any other behavioral interruptible correction, such as a “shaking can” or pet convincer.  Once you have their attention, show them their ball or toy in the yard. Sometimes you just can’t fight City Hall.  For those dogs like the Terrier breeds that were genetically born to dig, it may be easier to just build a sand box and teach them to only dig in the sand box.  In this way you are letting these dogs exude their natural tendencies.  For the rest, let’s teach them not to dig.

For more insistent diggers, you can spread cayenne pepper on the dirt. You can make two layers, the original layer of dirt, than pepper, dirt, pepper and then finally a light layer of dirt. Another option is to pour citronella oil in the hole and surrounding area.  This procedure will also keep the mosquitoes away and make your yard smell fresh and lemony. Digging is just the symptom; the root cause is that you are not meeting your dog’s physical and mental needs.  Give them a job, besides landscaping.



October 2, 2019 at 8:52 pm Leave a comment

My dog is chewing. What can I do?

Before I commit murder can you tell me how to stop my 2 year old dog from chewing?  He was caught chewing the arm off my $8,000.00 designer sofa while lying on it.  I am so angry and at my wits end. Yesterday he was caught chewing the corner off one of our very expensive Persian rugs.

This dog sure has expensive taste in chew toys!  Did you know that you can purchase $2.00 to $10.00 chew toys at your local pet store?  Perhaps the next time you go furniture shopping, take him with you.  This way he can pick out his next favorite chew toy.  After all it is the people who are crazy not the dogs. You see you have a relationship problem; your dog already knows that genetically whatever belongs to Alpha is left alone.  If your dog truly respected you as the leader or Alpha, than this would never have happened (especially with a 2 year old dog).  Instead your dog thinks that he owns the house and because of this, everything in the house is his to chew at his leisure. I guess he also makes the mortgage payments!

Since you were at home when this happened, we can rule out “separation anxiety”. The bottom line is, your dog is just plain bored and sees this as a wonderful vacation resort created solely for him. This poor, bored dog has no other job to do, and with so much free time, they go looking for trouble.

First of all you need to add structures in the household that the dog has to follow. There is no free lunch. Make them “sit-stay” for feeding and “sit-stay” to go in and out of doors. Make them do something such as “Come”, “Sit” or “Lay Down” in order to receive a pet or praise. If they are in a crate, make them wait and only come out when given permission. In other words, they are not allowed to just bolt out. We also suggest that you get your dog off of the sofa and bed.  Dogs take their sleeping area very seriously. An Alpha dog will not share it with anyone else. Dogs are very aware of height privileges. Higher ranking members always sleep higher.

Chewing may have started because they were bored, however it can also become a habitual habit, just like someone biting their nails when bored or nervous. So, let’s go back to the basics which are making sure to fulfill your dog’s three major needs.  PHYSICAL, you have a sporting dog that was bred to run and swim all day long without tiring.  Your dog needs to get some aerobic type exercise, running back and forth for twenty minutes twice a day. MENTAL, your dog needs a job; we do obedience training for this.  SOCIAL, we want to be able to trust our dog under all circumstances.  In return for observing the first two canine needs, physical and mental, as well as, establishing the language in which to communicate; your dog can become an acceptable member of your family and not a prisoner in your backyard or crate.

We are also going to treat your two year old dog like a puppy.  He needs to be under your constant supervision.  If you can’t supervise him, put him in the crate.  If you limit the time allowable for him to get into trouble, you can stop a vicious cycle.  You need to prevent him from doing this bad habit of chewing up your belongings so your dog will instead chew on the things that are allowable for him. If he starts to put something not appropriate in his mouth, distract his attention by clapping your hands, stepping forward and saying “aaaght”. You can also use a “shaking can”, squirt bottle of water, or a pet convincer to get his attention.  Use anything that will startle and interrupt his behavior, and allow you time to give him one of his appropriate chew toys. In other words, interrupt unwanted behavior, redirect to wanted behavior and reward good behavior.

These steps will help to teach your dog to leave your stuff alone in your presence. To help in your absence, we spray the items that you want to protect with one of the products that make things “bitter tasting”.  There are many products available at your local pet store.  You must find which product works best for your dog, as some dogs learn to love the taste.  This is why, once an item is heavily sprayed, I will touch the dog’s lips to the item.  This is a stronger and direct approach, limiting the chances of making your dog like the bitter spray.

Now don’t take the suggestion of using a bitter tasting product to stop unwanted chewing out of context. Without establishing control from the psychological point, you are just putting a band-aide on a more serious problem. As for your sofa, you might call a very good reupholstering shop to fix it just like new or cover the arm with a nice afghan.


September 2, 2019 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

Biting and Growling Jack Russell Terrier

Mayo is an English Jack Russell. He is 6 months old and has already snapped at 2 people. He often growls when someone goes to pick him up and he might growl if you try to take something away from him. The scary part is that he growls at the 2 little girls that he shares his life with. On the other hand he is adorable.

Mayo showing off the Fall Colors

Mayo showing off the Fall Colors

Loves to play games with the family and is very happy. The good part is that Mayo’s family is awesome. In fact I would hate to see if anyone else had him as I am sure he could be a big problem.

When he was very young around 10 weeks old, they hired me to do a puppy consultation. Mayo or should I say the family were shown how to teach him to walk on a loose leash, sit, sit-stay, down and come. The family really got on board and practiced all exercises. They were also very good at putting in place the suggested structures. Unfortunately, four weeks later I received a call that Mayo was starting to growl, so I went back. Upon arriving I was quite impressed that the family were practicing all the obedience exercises. In that regards he was doing great. The problem arose when one of the little girls went to pick him up. He would growl. So I told them about time out and discussed several other options. I also went over the calming or settle command.

The puppy is now 6 months old and is a little better, but will still occasionally growl. On top of it he tried to bite 2 people and is still struggling with housebreaking. So he went off to Bonny’s bootcamp.

When I went to pick him up, I could see he was very nervous about me being in his house. He would run around playing with his toys, but would always keep one eye on me. To be honest allot of his aggressive behavior is based on fear. Once again when a dog is afraid they will either flee or fight. Jack Russells for the most part don’t flee.

Once I got him home he wanted to attack and bite my dogs. Even my 15 year old Labrador Retriever (Eclipse). So I spent a good half hour acclimating him to my 3 dogs. He finally was okay with them, but still cautious. The funny part is that despite the fact that after several meetings and accepting them. When I let him outside at night in the dark. He once again tried to bite my dogs. Don’t think little kids are the only ones who think that there are boogie men in the closet.

I spent the first 2 days improving his obedience skills. I also worked on teaching him to ring the bell to go outside. The next step was socializing him by taking him places. Our first field trip was to Pet Supplies plus in Royal Oak.

Who is faster a Turtle or a Jack Russell?

Who is faster a Turtle or a Jack Russell?

He did great with the obedience exercises in this distractive environment, but we were also there to socialize him. So I started having everyone give him cookies. The good part is that he would run up to people to take the cookies, but as even one of the staff noted. “That he seemed very nervous.” I kept the visit very short as I didn’t want to stress him out. The next day I took him again to the store and now he felt very comfortable and greeted many people. The next trip was downtown Rochester and once again he was nervous. It wasn’t hard to have people give him cookies as he is so cute. After a while he relaxed and stopped trying to bark at everything that he perceived as fearful. The more I take him around people the more relaxed he gets.

Upon one of the visits to the pet stores we were faced with his aggressive reactions to other dogs. A dog came over to say hello and he tried to attack the dog. So off we went to get him socialized around other dogs. He seems very comfortable being around little dogs his own size as he can try to dominate them. Bigger dogs make him nervous. He is making progress. To be honest in the beginning he wouldn’t even play with my dogs.

Mayo with Coco and Bella a foster dog

Mayo with Coco and Bella a foster dog

His first friend was a more submissive Golden Retriever named Coco. He did try to snap at her first and after corrected quickly warmed up to her. Mayo and Coco now play very nicely together.

I have 2 more days with her. I plan to continue to socialize her and to work on some of her other issues. Such as when she has something in her mouth and you go to take it away from her. She will growl. Housebreaking is another. Yesterday she actually ran to the bell. Rang it and as soon as I took her outside she peed for quite some time. Of course the hardest part is when she goes home, but I have full confidence that his family will follow through

July 2, 2019 at 11:07 am 1 comment

Tribute to my Best Friend, Eclipse

Windsong’s Ecliptic Phenomenon CD, WC, JH
8/20/1996 to 10/1/2011

Eclipse was a great dog. She was so special that a client once offer me $1000.00 for her. But she wasn’t always a good girl.

Eclipse at 8 weeks

In fact the first 2 years of her life she ran wild. You see someone else was in charge of raising and training her. He tried, but he wasn’t a dog trainer. I decided to take over after it took me 20 minutes to get her to come. Once I took over she learned very quickly and became a fantastic working partner.

Doing What She Loved

She could hold a sit stay for as long as I needed her to. She amazed people because, I would put her in a sit stay in a client’s home, run outside to my van, come back in and she would still be in a stay. Believe it or not I still have the stuffed alligator toy that Eclipse won for placing 2nd place at an AKC obedience trial back when she was 3 years old. She loved that toy. If I said go find your alligator she would run around until she found it.
Eclipse had a charmed life. Not too many dogs get to go to work with Mom. The best part was that it was her job to play with other dogs. She was my distraction. In the last 11 years I couldn’t even start to think about how many dogs she has helped train.

Eclipse Giving a Helping Hand

She would stay in the van and sleep until it was time for her to do her job. I could leave the windows open on the vehicle and she would stay for hours if I needed her to. (But, never on hot days or if it was too cold.) Sometimes while waiting for me she would sneak into the driver’s seat waiting for my return, but most of the time you never knew she was even in the vehicle. I did teach her a trick for her and my safety and that was guard my Van. I was always afraid that someone might try to steal her, so I taught her guard or no guard. If ever I went into areas that had a higher potential of cars being stolen. I would say guard my van. I know she wouldn’t have done anything, however she sounded like a ferocious watch dog. Otherwise I would say no guard and once again. You would never know that she was there.
Now there were times that Eclipse wasn’t the brightest dog. Whenever I would work with dogs that were dog aggressive and the dog would be growling at her. Well Eclipse thought that they wanted to play. She would bounce around trying to get them to play with her. Once she even tried to play with Coyotes. They weren’t in any mood to play and she quickly ran back to Mom. Actually she raced back . Yet she also had a calming nature about herself. Whenever a dog came into bootcamp, she was the welcoming committee. She just had a knack for making the dog feel at home.
Many clients remember Eclipse at our once a month maintenance class. She would hold a sit stay while Mom was running the class, but once class was done. She would go up to every person to say hello. Since she loved her bumper (retrieving toy) she would carrying it around and tease people with it. She would walk around to everybody holding her bumper challenging them to take it from her. We used to have pizza at class and she always managed to get a few crusts. I eventually had to tell people to stop as this always made her sick. I actually think she was upset. After all that was the best part of class.
In some ways Eclipse was a celebrity. She had been on TV several times, been in numerous radio stations and of course a star on my training DVD.

The Movie Star

If you count all the times that she got to play with celebrities dogs. Well I probably could have let her have her own fan club. The problem is all that attention might have gone to her head.
Well this was Eclipse’s public life. Her private life was just as special.

Playing Tug of War With Gareth

She liked lying down by my feet while I was working on the computer. If I went outside she always wanted to go with me. I think she was hoping I would throw her bumper or take her for a walk. She loved her walks. Even in the last year when she no longer could go very far, she got to go at least around the block. Of course she was a fantastic retriever and loved to swim. If I brought out a bumper she would perk up like a puppy and would race out to pick it up. I knew it was getting close to the end when last week she ran out to the bumper, but never picked it up.


In the last 2 years poor Eclipse has been battling cancer. She had a tumor on the inside of her right front leg by the elbow. I had it removed 3 times. She was 14 years old the last time it was removed and unfortunately within a month it started to grow back. It was decided to let it alone as the last surgery took so much out of her. She made it to 15 years old and for this I am grateful. She will be missed by many. I know it will take me some time to stop looking for her on her favorite dog bed, however; I know she is running in the fields of Heaven chasing bumpers and being happy.

June 5, 2019 at 12:44 pm 5 comments

Adopting a Rescue Dog



I received a phone call from Metro Area Animal Adoption Association asking if I could come out to evaluate a dog named Cupid that had developed some aggressive behaviors. Cupid is a Golden Retriever, Chow & German Shepherd mix and he’s about two years old.

What a Cutie!

He had been adopted once but returned due to aggression. At first I was hesitant to take on Cupid’s case. Upon evaluation, if I got too close to him, he would lunge aggressively at me. So putting on a leash or collar was out of the question. So was trying to get him off the couch! Simple handling of Cupid was nearly impossible for me. But once Julie, who met me at the foster home to help out, put his leash on I grabbed it and went for a walk with Cupid. Immediately I discovered that underneath the aggression was a dog who wanted only to give kisses and to be loved but most of all needed guidance, discipline and strong leadership.
Although I was still hesitant about this case I decided to take Cupid into my home and try to rehabilitate him.

Chance Hanging Out

Chance Hanging Out

Initially there were power struggles, attempts at lunging aggressively at me and some biting. It was touch and go at first but through it all I saw a sweet sole underneath his tough exterior. Each day Cupid would respond better and better. There were fewer power struggles, no lunging, but still some dirty looks!
In the end, Cupid accepted the guidance and direction he was given.

He loved to run in open fields and chasing a Frisbee or tennis balls. However, he won’t bring them back so he still needs some work on the whole fetch thing! Now, almost a month later, Cupid’s aggression has disappeared and throughout all the trials and tribulations of his rehabilitation

Chance is such a Good Boy!

Chance is such a Good Boy!

process I fell in love with him and decided to adopt him to be a part of my pack. He is truly a joy and I am really enjoying his company. To be honest I started taking him everywhere and he loves it.

Think it Fits My Image

Think it Fits My Image

Cupid has also brought back life into my own two dogs who are 12 and 14 yrs old. Usually my dogs never want to socialize with the dogs that come into our house for behavior issues because they are old and arthritic and it’s just too much effort to socialize. But amazingly they did with Cupid.

Polo, Danny & Chance

Polo, Danny & Chance

Cupid has given my two dogs a second chance at living a youthful life and for that I am forever grateful!
Now Cupid’s name has been changed to Chance. As the title of this story suggests, everyone needs a second Chance. So Chance was an appropriate name for a dog that truly has been given a second chance at living his life to the fullest.

May 7, 2019 at 11:13 pm Leave a comment

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