Friday, April 2, 2010

Advice On Citronella No-Bark Collars

Dear Adam:

I have a client who has just adopted a dog. The english mastiff puppy is adjusting to its new apartment, but is barking a bit when the owner leaves. A friend of hers has lent a citronella collar for her to try.

My question is: Is there any health concerns with using the collar in terms of the spray getting in the eyes or lungs?

I would love to hear about peoples experiences with the collars whether they are negative or positive.

Thank you in advance!!

Dear RD:

They have a tendency to jam up. Not to mention run out of spray. And - although it probably won't kill the dog - who knows what spraying that stuff in their eyes and nose will do over a long-term period of time.

Ideally, the dog would only need to be sprayed once or twice and then he'd learn to never bark while wearing the collar. But everyone I know seems to go through the refill spray bottles like a worm eats through a discarded balogna sandwich. And this would suggest that the correction from the spray is only motivational enough to get the dog to cease the current exhibition of the behavior, but is not motivational enough to make him remember to not do it later.

I recommend the Tri-Tronics Bark Limiter. It's a quality product (it gives the dog a mild shock when he barks) and it works very well. Try a web search on

Good luck,

P.S. If you've already got the Citronella collar... go ahead and try it and see if it works for you. It's not going to kill the dog overnight. ;-) And you may just get lucky and find that one or two sprays will be all that you need to curb the behavior... if your dog has a fairly soft temperament to begin with.

That's all for now, folks!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Puppy Training - The Importance of Early Training for Mastiff Puppies

Mastiff Puppies-That sweet little bundle of fur you brought home for the kids is getting bigger now, and needs to learn some manners. At what point does a mastiff puppy's nibbling on your fingers stop being cute? When do the puppy's “accidents” start being on purpose? How do you know when it’s a good time to start training mastiff puppies?

Some experts have recently begun to suggest that the training process starts before the mastiff puppies are born. In the past, the prenatal period wasn’t considered in the social development of dogs because the unborn puppies couldn’t be observed. The availability of the ultrasound machine shed new light on what happens in the womb as early as the fourth week of gestation.

Scientist theorize that since puppies’ are responsive to touch at birth, their conditioning to touch begins before they’re born, possibly by nudges from the pregnant mother. Studies show that the offspring of pregnant animals are calmer and easier socialized when the mother is regularly petted.With mastiffs, this is a given, you can not help but pet them, they are after all part of your family. Mastiffs have such a loving demeanor that mastiff puppies are usually born into a very loving, highly socialized home, which makes training of the mastiff puppies very easy.

In roughly the first 14 days of a puppy’s life it may be able to learn some associations, such as recognizing a human caregiver, but it is still so mentally undeveloped that anything he learns isn’t likely to carry over to progressive stages of development.

During the first 3 to 12-week period a mastiff puppy begins to pick up on social behaviors. Playful wrestling, curiosity and even mimicking sexual behavior is an important part of teaching mastiff puppies their place in the family. It’s also important that the puppy has plenty of time with its mother and litter-mates, where the mother will teach it to play well with others. Mastiff Puppies can learn tricks and basic commands, such as sit and stay as early as eight weeks of age. At this point, it’s only limited by its still-developing coordination, concentration and physical stamina.

Obedience classes are a good place for Mastiff puppy owners to learn how to communicate with their animals. Some trainers offer socialization classes as soon as the mastiff puppy is established in its permanent home, but obedience classes typically want the animal to have at least started getting its initial vaccinations first, usually around three to six months of age. The longer training is put off, the more difficult it will be for both the mastiff puppy and their handler, especially if the puppy has already begun to pick up bad habits. It’s easier to instill good behavior than to try to deprogram bad behavior.

The emotional maturity and stability of a mastiff is equally important as the age factor in deciding when to start the training process. Often the handler focuses too heavily on making sure the dog understands the commands being issued and doesn’t pay enough attention to the information the dog is sending. This is counterproductive, because an animal that is stress, scared, confused or distracted will not learn efficiently.