Tips on Aggression, Boredom, Choosing a Puppy, Horticultural Horrors for Hounds, Rescue Dogs, Scratching the Door, Separation Anxiety, Toilet Training.



This is a very serious problem and must be handled as soon as possible. The worst case scenario for an uncontrollable, aggressive dog is that he injures a person or child and the dog is then ordered to be put to sleep (euthanized).

This does not need to be the case! Most aggression is caused by fear.

By addressing this problem, you can reduce your dog’s fear, which in turn will reduce his stress. You will be happier not having to worry that your dog might bite someone.

Early warning signs: Growling and barking at strangers is the earliest sign of aggression. Curing the problem at this early stage is best for all parties involved.


Here are a couple of Bark Busters Home Dog Training suggestions to keep your dog entertained and out of mischief.

The Busy Buddy (available at

There are games, and then there are TASTY games, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know which ones pups prefer. Dedicated dogs who solve the mystery of the Busy Buddy Jack Dog Toy will be rewarded with a yummy, all-natural rawhide treat, but first they'll have to twist and gnaw their way to the center. The durable Busy Buddy Jack Dog Toy is great for helping eliminate boredom while pet parents are away at work, and easy toclean when you get home; they're dishwasher safe!

The Buster Cube

It's a doggy dentist's favorite tool and a doggy's favorite chew... all in one! The Busy Buddy Bristle Bone Dog Toy has nylon bristles and rubber nubs that stimulate the gums and remove plaque and tartar as dogs entertain themselves gnawing and chewing trying to get their hard-earned reward: rawhide! Bristle Bone Dog Toys are available in multiple sizes and include 4 treats.

Scatter Feeding:
Turn feeding into a game. Scatter a variety of natural foods (such as whole carrots, celery, peas, broccoli, beans, apples etc…) around the yard or garden when you leave. This gives your dog something to forage for as well as some nutritious food to chew on (rather than your furniture). If your dog is fed on dry food you can also scatter some of this around too. Some items (especially raw, meaty bones or dried liver bits) can be hidden in a digging pit, such as a child’s sand pit, or even under bushes. Be careful in summer as wasps are attracted to raw meats left out in the open. If a dog is bitten on the tongue, the tongue could swell causing breathing difficulties.

The Kong (available at
This durable rubber toy has a hollow center that can be stuffed with delicious treats. Seal the ends with a biscuit to make it harder to get the goodies inside. Fill it with food then freeze it before giving it to your dog to enjoy.

The KONG-shaped Wobbler is an action-packed treat and food dispensing toy. It sits upright until pushed by a dog’s paw or nose and then periodically dispenses tasty rewards as it wobbles, spins and rolls. The unpredictable movement keeps the toy challenging, even for seasoned Wobbler users. The Wobbler can also be used as an alternative to a dog bowl to help slow and extend mealtime while providing exercise for your dog. Unscrews for easy filling and cleaning.

The Chuck-It (available at
Look as good as you throw! The new Chuckit! Sport Ball Launcher has a sporty new look and an improved grip, making it possible to launch the ball with more accuracy distance, and - most importantly - style than ever before. You'll help your dog exercise in a fraction of the time and never have to touch a just-drooled-on tennis ball again. The Sport Ball Launcher comes with one ball.


Choosing a Puppy

How can anyone resist their big sad eyes - they're all adorable so how do you decide which puppy will turn out to be the right dog for you? Here are some pointers that might keep you on the straight and narrow and stop you from being seduced by the wrong one, especially if there are small children in the family.

Firstly, make sure you see the mother with the puppies. If she's laid back about you being near her puppies, chances are she's a pretty cool customer. Puppies mostly inherit their mother's temperament. The following Do's and Don'ts might keep you on the right path to owning a great dog:

  • DON'T choose a puppy that won't approach strangers freely. Crouch down amongst the puppies and watch their reaction to you.
  • DON'T pick the one sitting by itself and looking all sad. There is a very good reason why this one won't or can't interact with the rest of the litter. It's either too shy, scared, sick or aloof. Either way, it will more than likely grow up to be a problem dog.
  • DON'T choose a listless puppy. It could have an underlying illness. It's costly enough to purchase and raise a puppy without veterinary bills for an illness you didn't expect. You want one that is happily active but not overbearing.
  • DON'T choose the biggest or the smallest in the litter. They're either greedy bullies or weedy weaklings who will end up giving you more headaches than joy.
  • DON'T rush. Spend at least an hour watching the puppies playing.
  • DON'T choose the puppy that the breeder bottle fed because the mother rejected it. She rejected it because she knew there was something wrong with it. We humans can't bear to see a puppy starve. That puppy will almost certainly be a problem dog.
  • DON'T choose and collect on the same day. Allow a cooling down period so that you can educate yourself on the responsibilities and cost of raising a puppy.
  • DON’T let your puppy go out of the door ahead of you. It is important that from the beginning you establish yourself as the leader, so you always go first and he follows.
  • DO take along some bedding or a cuddly toy to leave with the litter to pick up the smell. You can collect this when you pick up your puppy.
  • DO visit several vets in your area and choose one that you like and who has time to show an interest in you.
  • DO ensure that your garden area is properly and safely fenced for something as small as your puppy.
  • DO think about purchasing a sleeping crate. Puppies love small, enclosed places to sleep. It will also need a place away from the children.
  • DO supervise all the interaction between your children and the puppy. Children can be rough or not properly coordinated to hold a wriggly puppy. Don't let the children over handle the puppy.
  • DO educate yourself on diet. There is a lot of information on the internet on this subject.
  • DO seek the services of a good trainer or training club. Your puppy will need education in the ways of the human world. He's a dog and he won't know how to behave in our world unless we teach him.

Too much to think of?  Consider our Dog Shopping Service.

Horticultural Horrors for Hounds

There are many plants commonly found in home gardens which could prove lethal to dogs and especially puppies (who chew everything) - not to mention yourself and your children. Below is a list of some of those plants with the effects they can have if eaten - even in small quantities.

Plant Name Poisonous Part Effects
AZALEA   Entire plant Paralysis of the muscles, including the heart. Depression of central nervous system. Sometimes fatal.
BIRD OF PARADISE Seed pods Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
BUTTERCUP & RANUNCULUS  Entire plant Stomach irritation/diarrhea/convulsions
CALLA LILY Entire plant Intense burning sensation/ irritation of the mouth and stomach
CASTOR BEAN Entire plant but especially the seeds Burning sensation in the mouth. Eating two or more seeds may cause serious illness/death
DAFFODIL Bulb Severe vomiting and diarrhea, trembling, convulsions and sometimes death
DAPHNE Entire plant Burning and ulceration of stomach and intestines, bloody vomiting and diarrhea
ENGLISH IVY Leaves/berries General excitement, difficulty breathing/coma
HOLLY Berries Vomiting, diarrhea, weakness/collapse
IRIS Leaves, roots & fleshy portions Severe but temporary digestive upset
JERUSALEM CHERRY Berries Vomiting, diarrhea and collapse
LANTANA Berries Gastro-intestinal irritation/muscular weakness/ circulatory difficulties, sometimes fatal
OLEANDER Entire Plant Nausea, depression, bloody diarrhea, weakened and irregular pulse and Paralysis
POINSETTIA Leaves/stem Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, delirium. Sap can cause skin irritation. If rubbed in eyes, blindness
POISON OAK Leaves Skin irritation
PRIVET Entire plant Bloody vomiting, diarrhea, severe irritation of the digestive tract, general nervous symptoms
RHUBARB Leaves Vomiting, severe abdominal pain, muscle cramps and in large quantities, convulsions/coma/death
WISTERIA Entire plant Severe vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea
YELLOW JASMINE Entire plant Thirst/ dilated pupils/reddened skin/headache

It is not safe to assume that just because you can eat one part of a plant, the rest isn't poisonous. For instance, although we eat peaches, both the stone and leaf contain cyanide. Apricots also contain cyanide and children have actually died from eating too many apricot kernels. Although rhubarb stalks are good to eat, the leafy portion has been known to cause fatalities in humans.

Rescue Dogs

This guide should ensure that your dog is a pleasure to live with and more importantly for the dog, will never be returned to a shelter.

  • Entering a new home will be a stressful time for the dog.  Let him settle in for 2 weeks and just ignore a lot of his overtures.  Love him with your voice but try not to over-handle him in the first couple of weeks.
  • Don't let children hug the dog tightly around the neck.
  • As a family, make your rules for the dog and stick to them.
  • Introduce a simple sound that indicates to the dog that what he's doing is wrong, such as BAD (said in a growl).  Always follow up with soft voiced praise when he responds correctly.
  • Don't use aggressive body language such as pointing, raising your hand, tapping the dog on the nose, scruffing it, holding it down or grabbing it by the collar.
  • Don't hand food to the dog.  Throw it to him and let him catch it.
  • Don't growl commands in the same tone that you use for "BAD". Use only this one word to let the dog know he's doing something wrong. Keep the rest of your vocal communication with him very soft and gentle. Use body language to let him know what you want him to do.
  • Don't tell your dog off by using his name.
  • Don't let the dog assume a resting position above the human members of the pack.  Dogs see height as dominance.
  • Give your dog an area of safety, such as a sleeping crate.
  • Don't let children disturb him if he's sleeping.
  • Teach him to separate.  Don't have him with you all the time.
  • If you have to leave him for long periods of time, make sure that he has plenty of fruit and vegetables or raw bones to munch on whilst you're out.
  • If you're unsure of his behavior with other dogs and he's a big dog, temporarily muzzle him until you are sure he won't damage another animal.
  • Keep him on a long lunging lead in the park until you're sure he knows who his new pack is and will come back to you each time you call him.
  • Have him micro-chipped so that if he becomes lost, you can find him again.
  • Feed him outside as well as inside to encourage him to use the garden for toileting purposes.
  • Ensure you have a safe garden so that he can spend some time in the fresh air.
  • Don't let him answer the doorbell.  You are his minder, don't let him become yours.
  • Don't mistake barking at visitors as him being a good watchdog.
  • Make sure your dog understands the rules and boundaries of the pack and learn to communicate with him in his own language rather than expecting him to understand your language.

Follow these basic guidelines and there is no reason why you can’t love your dog and have a great relationship with him.  But please do seek professional help if your dog does start to get the better of you. After all, the last thing either of you wants is for him to end up back in a shelter.

Scratching at the door

Scratching or whining is your dog’s way to get what he wants, which is to come into the house. If you let him in when he whines or scratches, he will do it again and again because he has discovered “how the door works.” He learns, “I scratch, the door opens.”

This habit can be irritating, particularly if you have guests. We can teach your dog to sit quietly outside, even with the door open, during those times when he is not invited in.

Separation Anxiety

If your dog howls or barks when you leave or is destructive when you are gone, he may be suffering from separation anxiety. Your dog may be stressed and he will stay that way -- each day -- until you come home. He needs to learn that it is okay for you to go, that he will be safe and you will come home. This is a very delicate behavior problem that needs professional help from therapists like Bark Busters.

Toilet training

Toilet training for your puppy should start as soon as the puppy is home with you. You must be prepared to be patient and observant!

For Puppies and for Older Dogs

Toilet training for your puppy should start as soon as the puppy is home with you. You must be prepared to be patient and observant!

Times When Your Puppy Will Need to Relieve Himself

There are mainly six times a puppy should be accompanied outside for up to 20 minutes to toilet:

  • before going to bed for the night
  • as soon as he wakes up
  • after a nap during the day
  • after eating
  • after exuberant play
  • after you return home from an outing.

Many people take their puppies out for a walk only to see the puppies relieve themselves as soon as they get back indoors. To avoid this, walk the puppy to his toilet area. Stand still and stay with him, allowing the puppy to lose interest in you. Do not sit down as this will only encourage the pup to jump on you and forget what he is out there for.

Praise him if he performs. NEVER rub his nose in any mistakes! Positive reinforcement when he does the right thing in the right place is the best and quickest training method.

Outside Training:

When training the puppy to go outside to relieve himself, LEAD him to where you want him to go, stay with him, praise him when he performs. Note that a male puppy sometimes takes longer to perform than a female.