Written By:Anne Thomas
Who You Gonna Call?
Bark Busters muzzles pooches through special therapy
Your four-legged, hairy best friend loves to bark at everyone, real or imagined, who passes within sight of your house. When Grandma visits, he barks and leaps on her, knocking her senseless. He jumps into your bed in the middle of the night and barks and growls until you back down and let him stay.
This can’t go on! You need help! Who you gonna call? Bark Busters!
Bark Busters began in Australia 20 years ago and has been in the United States for about four years, with its headquarters in Denver. The local Bark Busters is owned by Max Alligood, a behavior therapist and trainer.
Although he has only been with Bark Busters since May 2003, the soft-spoken, mild mannered Alligood is not new to training. After receiving a master’s degree in adult education and human resources development, he spent more than four years training people to be better managers and working with employees who had been downsized.
- “I just transferred these same skills to Bark Busters because I’m not training dogs, I am still training people,” said Alligood. “I enjoy going in and working with people on something that I’m passionate about. I love dogs and Bark Busters was the perfect transition.”
To date, Alligood has trained over 100 owners, some with two or three dogs, and the behavior of the dogs has run the gamut from barking to biting to jumping.
Vicki and Samantha Magis called Alligood to help with their new puppy, Grape, and their 2-year old dog, Sophie. The main problem was that Grape nipped at everybody.
- “I’m a marshmallow, so the way that Max teaches is very relaxed and fits us perfectly,” said Vicki, adding that Alligood’s training was totally different from any training they’d had before. “He taught us to act like dogs. It was a riot working with him and dogs and a great success as far as we are concerned.”
Alligood trains in the client’s home and will spend two or three hours on the first visit, doing an assessment of the problem, explaining the psychology of dog behavior and training the dog. Bark Busters uses a holistic approach, meaning that it treats the entire dog, rather than just the symptoms of the problem.
- “I’m in their environment. I want to know if there are kids in the home and their age, the schedule of everyone in the home, where the dog sleeps, what his life is like, what he is eating,” said Alligood.
Bark Busters bases its training on canine pack mentality.
- “A lot of people say my dog doesn’t know she’s a dog. She thinks she’s a person. That’s a mistake,” he said. “What she really thinks is that her owner is a dog. She sees a pack and needs to know that you are the leader and you are protecting her.”
Recently Alligood went to the home of Tim and Marsha Ricciardi and their 4-year-old black long-haired Chihuahua, Palie, who barked incessantly whenever anyone came near the house.
Alligood said a dog that barks at everything is not a good watchdog because eventually you get tired of the barking and just yell at the dog to shut up.
- “There could be a man standing in the doorway with an ax and you wouldn’t even look up,” said Alligood, adding that Palie is on the road to recovery. Since Bark Busters offers a lifetime guarantee, Alligood will be back to help Palie with future problems.
Reposted with permission, 5/26/04