do spray bottles work

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runlip
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do spray bottles work

Post by runlip » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:59 pm

I was talking with a freiend of mine about my dog. I have had some problems with him barking alot and he is not comfortable when people come to the house. He barks at them and I tell people not to pet him because he may snap. (I have had a trainer) I feel bad about my kids not having many friends over because of this. Duke is about 2 yrs old. We have had him since he was 4 months and was always a bit fearful.... Anyway my friend told be to squirt him with water when he barks. I think that sounds kinda mean and I don't want to screw him up anymore. Any thoughts about squirting him with the spray bottle.

MPbandmom
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by MPbandmom » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:11 pm

The spray bottle is an aversive and this board does not endorse or recommend the use of aversives.

Someone else may be along later to give some better ideas to you. In the meantime, look into posts by Horus's mum and Jacksdad as well as other posts on here where people are working on barking and fear issues.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

jacksdad
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by jacksdad » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:02 pm

actually Horus's mum and Noobs would probably be better posts to search on for this issue. noobs has some recent posts around here about how she has been working with murphy on visitors.

use of a spray bottle assumes your dog is doing something wrong, understands that it's wrong, and needs a punishment. all incorrect assumptions. If your dog is truly fearful, a safe assumption, then punishment can make the issue worse. your dog could learn to associate someone coming to the house with being sprayed. While water being sprayed probably won't physically harm the dog (which is often the justification for doing this), the issue is emotional. its unpleasant, can be scary, irritating etc. So your dog learns stranger/visitor equals something unpleasant and so tries that much harder through barking and the other unwanted behaviors to chase them away to avoid the unpleasant experience of being sprayed. which of course leads to being sprayed. the other, and less likely but known to happen, is your dog actually likes the spray and thinks its a game. neither response outcome deals with the possible under lying issue, fear. Nor does it teach your dog what to do in place of a fear reaction and barking when someone comes over.

To help with suggestions what to do, could you give a brief run down on your dogs age, breed, what a typical day looks like, exercise, training, anything that might be helpful in getting a better picture of your dog.

ckranz
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by ckranz » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:49 pm

Use of spray bottles can also have undesired consequences. My akita mix is prone to getting hot spots and I frequently have to spray on tee tree oil to help dry out the spot and reduce the itch. Using a spray bottle as a means of discipline would cause confusion as I don't want her to see being sprayed with something as bad.

Likewise during the summer it can get quite hot in my area and I will use spray bottles to spray everyone down to keep cool.

Rewarding your dog for being quiet is the surest way. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons....fear, excitement, play, warning etc...its important to understand what your dog is displaying when barking to develop a training plan to work with problem barking.

emmabeth
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by emmabeth » Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:03 am

Trust your instincts...

YOu know your dog is uncomfortable and fearful - in what way would frightening him or shocking him by spraying him with water help that?

Sure, short time it MIGHT stop him barking, but the real problem isnt the barking its his fear and distrust of strangers - and that will still be there, in fact more so as hes likely to associate nasty water spray with visitors coming over.

Some dogs will avoid and run off or slink off into a corner, and this is why unfortunately people assume methods like this are ok to use, because in some instances they 'work' - i put the word work in inverted commas for a reason though. You have to figure out what you want to achieve, in this instance you want the dog not to be afraid, which has the side effect of him not barking or snapping. So if he just doesnt bark becaues hes more afraid of the water than of the people, that doesnt mean hes any less afraid of people than he was... so the method hasnt worked really!

Some dogs wont back off, and will get worse and will wind up biting folk or the owner - you have no way of telling before you start using an aversive, which response your dog will show.

Additionally, if you start out with an aversive at a level too low, ie the dog doesnt care about it, you have to go up the levels to find out how nasty you have to be to get a response - that tends to desensitize the dog to the aversive and you keep having to get nastier and nastier and the question there is, where does it stop?? Is that the relationship you would want with anyone, let alone your dog?

Of course if you go the other wa and start out with a really harsh level of aversive, and its too much - your dog could be seriously terrified of the aversive, and of you as well, forever more.

As you can see there are so so many thins that can go wrong when using aversives, and thats why we dont recommend them. Additionally, its just not nice, we have dogs as pets and companions because we like them - why would we want to do something horrid to them?

In comparison, preventing your dog from being pushed out of his depth by keeping him away from visitors, exposing him slowly to visitorswho have been primed to behave in a certain way and not do any number of things that may upset him, and counter conditioning him to associate visitors with pleasant rewards and low stress should remove the underlying fear, with the end result that the dog stops barking because he no longer needs to.

Much safer all round, it takes time, yes, but theres very very little scope for things to get worse, for people to get bitten or the dog to be terrified and lose all trust in you.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

runlip
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by runlip » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:06 am

I'm not sure what his breed is. They told me he is a chi mix but he seems to have more terrier so I call him a terrier mix. He is about 22 lbs and can jmp to kiss me in on the lips!!! I walk him in the morning 20mins on a cold day to up to an hour on a nice day. I'm a stay at home mom so I'm home most of the time. Not usually gone for more then 5 hours at a time. When I leave him alone I give him a kong. He is not in a crate and is a very good dog in the house. In the afternooon I talk him out to throw a ball for awhile somethimes he plays with his shiz-tzu friend. My daughter will run him when she gets home from school for a few minutes and my husband will play with him when he gets home from work. Some days he get more exercise and attention then others but that is typical day.
I'm glad I followed my insticts on the water bottle. It just didn't seem right.
I think he gets very excited. I use treats to redirect him when he is barking. I'm hoping I can feel more comfortable with him around the kids friends.
Thank you for your replies

emmabeth
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by emmabeth » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:49 pm

No problems :D

I think its easier for thsoe who have children if you imagine your dog is a toddler - ok hes furry and most toddlers arent... but there are a lot of similarities, the inability to communicate things so well the ease with which tehy get frustrated or wound up, they percieve the world a little differently too..

So if you think to yourself 'would i handle a 2 year old child like this' when anyone suggests you do something to your dog that you are not sure about, the answer is likely to be right! Would you squirt an excited or frightened 2 year old child with water to shut them up? Heck no! Would you punish a frightened child? NO..

Would you take them off somewhere to calm down, keep things calm around them and not let them get wound up in the first place and reward them and praise them for staying calm, yep!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

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Mattie
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by Mattie » Sat Dec 25, 2010 3:28 am

I am just having a relaxing 5 minutes after a horrible week before starting on the day.

I had a phone call 2 days ago from a lovely lady who has a nervous rescue dog, like the problems of many owners who come on here this lovely little girl is reactive to other dogs so she got a behaviourist out who was recommended to her. This person, I can't call her a behaviourist as a good one wouldn't recommend this, told her to squirt her with water when she reacted, it made the problem worse. She was then told to throw water bombs on the ground in front of her, this poor dog is now too frightened to go for walks. I have given her some ideas to work with until I can get out to her early in the new year.

Some dogs love to be sprayed with water, they think it is a game, if you have a dog that loves being sprayed with water you are reinforcing the behaviour you are trying to stop by making it fun.
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Whitefang

Re: do spray bottles work

Post by Whitefang » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:03 am

.
Last edited by Whitefang on Sun Feb 20, 2011 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

mum24dog
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by mum24dog » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:07 am

In the case of the OP's dog, I have nothing to add to the previous posts.
But it would be wrong to deny that a spray bottle can work without harming a dog in some cases.
Please don't misunderstand me - I am not advocating their use, mainly because there are alternatives and the cases where it would be one of the worst things to use far outnumber those where it might have the desired effect without doing and harm to the dog and few people would have the skill to recognise the difference.

A confident dog that is being a pain in the neck barking out of excitement may be distracted but not distressed by a squirt. It may even have a lasting effect on some dogs if the interruption is immediately followed by well timed positive reinforcement, but once the spray crosses the line between harmless interruption and punishment, then it would be a No No.

Best avoided really. You need to know your dog inside out to judge whether you might be doing harm, and if you know your dog that well you should also have the training skills to think of something else.

jacksdad
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by jacksdad » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:44 am

mum24dog wrote:A confident dog that is being a pain in the neck barking out of excitement may be distracted but not distressed by a squirt. It may even have a lasting effect on some dogs if the interruption is immediately followed by well timed positive reinforcement, but once the spray crosses the line between harmless interruption and punishment, then it would be a No No.
might just be me, but that makes no sense at all.

It's important to be clear about the squirt. clearly you aren't harming a dog physically. BUT, not only does a squirt NOT teach the dog what it should be doing, but you risk the squirt having emotional consequences. sounds touchy feely, but until you have worked with a dog who has emotional issues, such as fear and/or history of physical punishment this only seems harmless and touchy feely. And that "lasting effect"..might not be the one you want.

runlikethewind
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by runlikethewind » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:08 pm

I would also add to be careful with making a link between a very barky, excitable dog being a confident dog-this would often not be the case thus the use of a spray bottle would likely make the dog's state of mind worse. By the same token, spraying a truly confident dog might introduce fears-as explained before ...so whichever way you look at it, the grand conclusion we seem to have come to is there is no place in constructive, modern dog training for spray bottles. Follow the alternative advice advice and also look at ladybug1802 posts for a similar problem she is overcoming.

mum24dog
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by mum24dog » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:59 pm

jacksdad wrote:It's important to be clear about the squirt. clearly you aren't harming a dog physically. BUT, not only does a squirt NOT teach the dog what it should be doing, but you risk the squirt having emotional consequences. sounds touchy feely, but until you have worked with a dog who has emotional issues, such as fear and/or history of physical punishment this only seems harmless and touchy feely.
You think I haven't? All my dogs have been basket cases one way or another, from the dog that would urinate in fear if anyone so much as looked at him to the one that would bite and mean it if he felt threatened. I don't know how to do "easy".
And that "lasting effect"..might not be the one you want.
It might not, which is why I stressed how vital it is to know a dog inside out.
I know that my JRT wouldn't be fazed in the least by being sprayed. He would just continue to bark regardless.
I know that both my hound cross and my BC would treat it as a game and try to catch the water, but while the hound would quickly forget about it, the BC would quite likely generalise the sound to any hiss.
And I know that my collie x and my little mongrel would be very upset by it.

Different reasons why I would never use one with them.

But I also know dogs where just one or two sprays have stopped unwanted barking without producing a neurotic wreck of a dog. How do I argue with that? It worked for those owners. It didn't harm their dogs physically or mentally.

I know the possible fall out as well as anyone. I never recommend their use and I try to dissuade anyone I see using one, but I can't argue that black is white and it would undermine my case if I were to do so. Just because something "may" happen doesn't mean that it will. Over stressing the likelihood of it backfiring to someone whose own experience tells them that I'm making a fuss over nothing isn't going to make them inclined to respect my opinion in anything and next time it might be about something important in the case of their dog.

It's up to us to be honest in educating people and to make sure we can back up what claims we make. I think it's easy sometimes when you are dealing with problems that dogs have on a regular basis to forget that the vast majority of dogs are pretty well balanced and forgiving creatures. Influencing people is much harder than dealing with dogs.

jacksdad
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by jacksdad » Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:46 am

mum24dog wrote: But I also know dogs where just one or two sprays have stopped unwanted barking without producing a neurotic wreck of a dog. How do I argue with that? It worked for those owners. It didn't harm their dogs physically or mentally.
how do you "argue" with that? very easy. they got lucky, and the knowledge that it did "no harm" is 20/20 hind sight. There was NO possible way to know this going into it. also, is it really possible not being the owner and living with the dogs to KNOW there was no damage. how many owners that use spray bottles are aware enough of the signals their dogs give to truly know if their dog is harmed or not.

That is the problem with doing things like spraying your dog with a water bottle or any of the other physical corrections is you never know how it will affect your dog until AFTER you do it. where if you just work to show your dog what you would like them to do, you KNOW what the end result will be.

Example. I was at the dog park with my dog for a quick water break on our walk. there was a lady there with her dog and she wanted it to sit at the gate before they went in. she was doing all kinds of physical things to get her dog to sit. she jerked the leash, stepped on the dogs butt (gently, but enough to push it down), grabbed the dogs face and told the dog (i kid you not) "you need to listen to me". she did several things over a few minutes to try and get her dog to sit. I looked at Jack (a dog / dog reactive dog) took a treat and lured him into a perfect sit right in front of small dog side. I can now ask him to sit before entering the dog park to take off his leash or while on the beach to take off his leash and NOT use a treat. including when other dogs are around. This from a dog/dog reactive dog and a novice when it comes to dog training in general and reactive dogs in particular. If I can do this, why would you need to use a spray bottle to get what you want from your dog?

there is no need to even consider using something like spraying water even IF 1 in 10 or 1 in 100 dogs "learns" from it or isn't harmed. why risk the negative side effects that we KNOW can happen and damage a well balanced dog. particularly when we either know or can learn techniques that we KNOW do not harm the dog at all.

Lis & Addy
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Re: do spray bottles work

Post by Lis & Addy » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:33 pm

Eh. Sometimes behavior needs to be interrupted before you can get the dog's attention to achieve different results, and there are plenty (far more than a mere 1 in 10), for whom an occasional squirt from a water bottle is going to be nothing more than a useful and non-distressing interruption.

But that has nothing to do with Runlip's situation, with a fearful and sensitive dog. Runlip should go with the knowledge of his/her own dog, and ignore the "friend." No squirt bottles.

Lis

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