December 01, 2004
Written By: Steve Love
Cypress resident Bob Williams is on a mission to show dog owners that they can put a stop to bad behavior in seconds.
He’s one of the newest franchisees of a company called Bark Busters. The company was founded in Australia in 1989 by a veterinarian who grew tired of seeing people bring in dogs to be euthanized because of behavioral problems. She knew they could be easily trained and began to teach dog owners how to take control.
- “She dedicated her life to that mission not knowing what it would turn into,” Williams said. Australia was soon saturated with franchises. Then it spread to New Zealand and the United Kingdom. In 2001, the company came to the United States. Williams did not discover Bark Busters until this past May. He had worked for Shell Oil for 25 years before being laid off. Williams said he’d had some interest in doing franchise work, so he searched the Internet and found Bark Busters. He and his wife, Jeanne, both signed on.
- “There’s been no looking back,” he said. “We are having the time of our lives.”
Shortly after that, and without really trying, they found themselves featured on television news programs twice and in several newspapers. He’s already trained about 350 dog owners, and because they’ve done so well so quickly, Bark Busters is looking to saturate the Houston area with franchises.
Williams said any dog owner would love a career with Bark Busters, not just for the chance to work with dogs, but to see someone’s eyes light up when their dog finally behaves.
- “What I love about it is that it is so gratifying,” he said. “You have people who have tolerated bad behavior in dogs for years and when you show them you can put an end to this stuff, they are astonished.”
His favorite problem dog is the one that goes nuts when the doorbell rings.
- “It’s very common and I think it’s one of the reason Bark Busters has done so well down here,” Williams said. “You know, 90 percent of the dogs down here are indoors because it’s so darn hot. And a very high percentage of those raise Cain when the doorbell rings.”
He said owners have tolerated it for years but they do not have to; they just have to learn why their dog is acting that way. When a dog comes into a new environment, Williams said, they have about two weeks to figure out where they fit in. They see the family as their pack and the home is now their den. The dog evaluates all their new denmates and quickly realizes they have no clue how to act like a dog.
- “He’s forced to be the pack leader because that’s how a dog’s mind works,” Williams said. “The strongest dog has to be the pack leader.”
That’s why a dog patrols the house, looking out every window and lets loose every time there’s a knock at the door. They feel they’re responsible for the safety and security of that den. This can also lead to separation anxiety. Most people plead with their dog not to mess anything up when they leave the home. Bark Busters says that’s the time to be the most aggressive and show who the pack leader is.
- “Imagine yourself in the dog’s position,” Williams said. “He’s the leader. If someone shows up and drags one of his pack members off, he doesn’t have any clue where they are. He gets real anxious about that.”
When owners assert their leadership and strength as they leave the house, the dog can relax and anxiety goes away. It happens instantly, Williams said.
Williams said these dogs belong to a couple types of people. There are those who can already tell they’re not leading the pack at home. Then there are those who think they’re in charge because they raise their voice and the dog backs off. Williams said they just think they’re they pack leader. In reality, they have not established and maintained any sort of dominance. They are inconsistent and they can easily see when their control is slipping because the dog will try things it has never tried before.
Establishing dominance does not even require harshness with the dog. In fact, that’s against Bark Busters’ policies.
- “Absolutely no harsh treatment,” Williams said. “We’re firm with our dogs, but we’re certainly not harsh with them. You have to be consistent, because when you’re inconsistent, your dog picks up on it. It makes him think you’re weak.”
He said dogs have three main methods of communicating: body language, their growl and their snap. Bark Busters teaches dog owners how to use those same methods to establish themselves as the pack leader. Once that’s accomplished, the dog realizes it no longer needs to patrol the house and a lot of behavioral problems will disappear.
- “We show those people how to put an end to that and it’s over in 30 seconds, and they can’t believe that,” Williams said. “Once you take that leadership away from them, they begin to lose interest in that kind of thing.”
The dog will probably start doing the same again thing the next day, but if their owners will keep applying the techniques they learn, the dog will realize in a matter of days that whatever is happening at the door is none of their business.
Skeptics can rest assured; Williams said Bark Busters guarantees what they do for the life of the dog.
- “What that means is if you ever have more behavior issues with your dog, you call us,” he said. “We’re your partners for life with that dog. You only pay for it one time.” Bark Busters now wants all of Houston to see what great results they have once more franchises open.
- “Our goal is to saturate the city,” he said. “There’s room for about 10 Bark Busters down here. Bark Busters is going to be a household name in a number of years in Houston and we’re going to do great things for the city.”
One of the great things about working with Bark Busters, he said, is he can call the home office and they’re always helpful. Even if he’s out on the field and comes across a challenging dog, they’re ready to assist him over the phone. He also said there were no dogtraining requirements before he signed on.
- “I couldn’t teach a dog to fetch a stick before I joined Bark Busters,” Williams said. “When I told them that, they said, ‘You’re perfect.’ If you’re a dog owner, this is absolutely a wonderful job for you.”
As the only franchise currently in the Houston area, Williams serves the entire city and he’s ready to help people take charge.
- “People have been tolerating this bad behavior for many years – particularly this barking at the door thing or pulling on the leash – and you have to be able to control it. You don’t have to tolerate it anymore; I can have you controlling that in no time.”
Reprinted with permission from the Houston Community Newspapers 04-25-05