Bark Busters

By on September 28, 2010
There’s no question that our furry friends have a place in our families. But as with children, some dogs can require extra attention and effort for harmony to be preserved at home.The key to this is “talking dog”, and Bark Busters helps us do just that.  The Australian-born school operates by sending its top dog therapists to turn misbehaving canines into little cherubic pups right in your home.  Their highly effective methods have made Bark Busters the leading and largest dog-training company in various countries around the globe.

TF spoke with Nick Christ and Chie Kawazoe of Bark Busters Tokyo.

What’s unique about Bark Busters?
We actually communicate with the dog in the way the dog communicates with other dogs.  Results come much faster when dogs are spoken to in a language they understand.  We use neither food nor harsh methods to change behavior; within a pack, dogs may correct one other, but they don’t hurt each other.

The dog still thinks of the world as being its pack and humans as other dogs. If he believes that the other pack members are weak, he feels the need to become the leader and make the rules.  Our role is to teach the owners how to get that leadership position. Generally, the problems will go away once that correction of leadership structure is made.

Why do you specifically train dogs at their home?

The home environment is where most of the problems occur.  It’s no good trying to fix the dog’s chewing of the furniture or barking at the doorbell by going to a group lesson elsewhere.  We go to the clients’ home, we listen to them to understand the environment and their relationship with the dogs, and then we give our presentation to the owners that covers dog psychology.

What are some common problems you experience?

Barking at doorbells and other dogs, growling, biting, toilet problems, chewing furniture, and separation anxiety.

How long is the training process?
We spend anywhere from three to four and a half hours a session to go through all the problems and hands-on exercises, and to teach the owners some dog psychology.  In 90 per cent of the cases, the dog’s behavior improved greatly by the end of the first lesson.  But the owner is required to do his homework after we leave; if they spend roughly 10 minutes a day for the next six to eight weeks, the dog should accept their new roles.  The first session is key, but we would come back afterwards to help the owner.

How old must a dog be to start training? Can he be too old?
Our approach is: any dog, any age, any problem.  (Of course, if a dog is physically frail, then it may be too late; if they’re very, very old.)  You may have heard that it’s best to start training a dog when it’s a puppy, but we don’t strictly follow that; in fact, we get quicker results from mature dogs.  Puppies are still developing and getting more dominant over time; they actually need to do more training because as they mature, they’ll challenge owners for leadership again.  We charge more for dogs under six months old because we need to come back more times.

How involved must the whole family be in the sessions?

We prefer that every person who would handle the dog sit in on the lesson so they understand the theory.  As for children, dogs view them as puppies: they’re erratic and not consistent, so as a general rule, we don’t recommend children under 12 to give orders to the dogs.  The leadership and control has to come from adults.

What about other dogs or pets in the same household?

If a family has more than one dog, they should train all the dogs at the same time.  In dog society, the female is more dominant and becomes a leader.  So if a family has one dog of each gender, usually the male misbehaves, so we get called in to solve his problems; but once he is trained, the female starts behaving worse because she sees the owners as “attacking” the male, and she follows that.  It can so happen that the dog who didn’t behave badly starts doing so, so two dogs should be trained together.  If the dog tries to attack any birds, cats, or other pets, we can train that.

Please tell us about your Life Support service.
Our most popular service that Bark Busters started with is the Life Support.  Once the initial training is done, our services will remain available throughout the dog’s lifetime – it’s a one-off cost.  We continue providing support if the dog starts misbehaving after, for example, being traumatized by other dogs or having his environment change due to the owner having a baby.

If someone in the non-Japanese community here buys their life support service from us and later moves to another country we’re situated in, and they live close to one of our other Bark Buster therapists, they will honor that service without any additional charge except for transportation.

Currently, we’re the largest in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia; we are also in Belgium, France, Israel, and Taiwan. u

Bark Busters offers in-house dog training services throughout Japan. Its English service, however, is available to those residing within an hour’s commute of Yokohama Station; additional transportation charges may apply to those living outside of this area. They offer three levels of service: Bronze (one-time visit), Silver (three-month support), and Gold (lifetime support, honored in any country with Bark Busters therapists).

Hours: 9am-9pm, daily
Office tel: 045-663-1977 (English and Japanese)
Hotline: 0120-272-109 (Japanese)

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