What a fascinating and unexpected first impression I received when my Bark Busters instructor, Mike Shamp, explained the basic, underlying concepts used in their dog training. I find that learning new ways of doing things broadens my ability to customize how I handle my dogs. Each new experience brings something different to the mix, allowing me to better manage individual dogs, and the pack as a whole.
While I love the leadership focus of Cesar Millan, it has always been evident to me that this approach will not work for everyone. Most of us would need serious training in the skill of 'machismo', me included.
On the opposite end of that same spectrum lies the traditional treat-based, command-driven training that most U.S. trainers use. Most dogs are motivated by the treats, and we owners often find the verbal commands suit our own natural communication methods, but there are other ways. I was surprised to find that Bark Busters' approach does not put treats front and center, yet all the pups, even the young ones, got the message through body language. Simple, yet effective techniques were successful in teaching 'stand' and 'let's go' that I had not seen taught before.
Cesar Millan....meet Bark Busters. Somewhere in the middle of Cesar's dominant leadership method and the most commonly used treats and commands method, there is Bark Busters, founded in Australia in 1989.
The training concept used by Bark Busters reveals a different mindset. While leadership is the focus, it is balanced with an equal concentration on mimicing the communication of our canine companions. Learning their body language and ways of communicating, allows us to communicate and lead, using our dogs' own language. Herein lies the basic idea behind the Bark Busters method. I think Cesar would approve.
One interesting example that I learned during this class was that of a barking pup problem. Mike explained the cure for the dog's barking so simply. It was merely a matter of relieving the dog of the responsibility for whatever it was he was barking about.
For instance, if your dog barks when a stranger is in the yard, he merely needs to know that you are in control of the stranger, and he will no longer feel the need to alert you or the stranger. A simple, novel concept that can change the communication between you and your dog--leadership based communication that does not require treats to be taught. Somehow I felt my inner Oprah Winfrey coming out, if only just a bit.
All in all, my experience with the Bark Busters approach was positive. I particularly enjoyed the passion and commitment of Mike Shamp, my instructor, who shared with me some of the many projects he has been involved in over the years. Stay tuned here for more on his latest work with Central Florida hospitals. Curious? Hope to see you soon.
Mike and Judy Shamp can be reached at Bark Busters North via email: NorthOrlando@BarkBusters.com
Be sure to drop in at 5 Minutes for Fido, where Oliver has some comments about Bark Busters and his CGC experience. His perspective is, as expected, candidly canine.
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