A remarkable new device is changing the way dog owners train their dogs to stop barking
“If you could stop a barking dog with the press of a button, would you?” – Sam Small, K9 trainer
Sam Small is a renowned Police dog trainer and life long dog lover that stumbled upon a new way to train dogs that’s both highly effective and humane. The problem, according to Small, is that many dogs will train themselves to bark at all the wrong times, as well as to continue barking even after you, the owner, have determined that the bark is unwarranted. To understand what Small is saying, he likes to recount the story of Roxy, the pit mix his neighbor had, and the force that drove him to invent Bark Begone.
Roxy is a beautiful pit mix that my next door neighbor bought early this year. They bought her as a pup at the same time that my neighbor’s had their first child, and as a professional dog trainer I always recommend introducing puppies to babies so they can grow up together and bond really strong.
I never heard a peep from Roxy next door for the first eight months, but then my neighbor’s wife went back to work and put their child in daycare. I work the night shift, so I am normally asleep in the day. It was right after the kid got put in daycare that I started hearing Roxy barking her head off during the days.
A car would pass, and Roxy would bark. She was kept in the back yard, and the gate looked out onto the street. Whenever someone walked by, she would bark.
One day, they had gardeners there and Roxy literally barked for 8 hours straight. She would not quit barking, I’m not even sure how she was physically able to bark that long, but she did!
After that day, I started keeping an eye on Roxy because I can see her through my back yard window. I noticed a change with Roxy’s barking, which was becoming worse by the day. Previously, she would bark when she saw someone walking by, then the barking would stop.
After a while, she would not only bark when she saw someone walking by, she would keep barking for up to half an hour after they had left, for no apparent reason.
Before, she would only bark in the day when my neighbors were gone at work. After a while, she would bark even when they were home. Many times, I could hear her barking inside the house, when her owners were right there!
“As a dog trainer, what I was seeing was a gradual escalation of what was becoming a problem, and it drove me to act. I knew I needed to do something to help my neighbors, and also, to help poor Roxy.”
Keep in mind I am a pro dog trainer, so I am pretty familiar with training a dog to do the things I ask of him. The only problem is, in the police department, I am around my trainee dog 24⁄7. I take the dog home with me, and I constantly train him throughout the day.
I knew right away this tactic wasn’t going to work with Roxy, because for starters, she wasn’t my dog, and second, I didn’t have the time to train her for hours and hours every day.
What I needed to do was to devise a training method for poor Roxy that anyone could use, even someone who had zero experience training a dog. Especially for someone who had zero experience training a dog!
Also I am a die-hard dog lover so the training needed to be 100% humane, so shock collars and muzzles were out of the question.
Then it dawned on me. In fact, the answer was hanging right around my neck… my police dog whistle. We use these whistles to get a dog’s attention when by nature it doesn’t want to pay attention, like when the dog is attacking a suspect. The dog whistle is an ultra high frequency sound which is painless and harmless to a dog, but will instantly get it’s attention and make it stop whatever it’s doing.
At first, I thought I would just give my neighbor my dog whistle, until it dawned on me that they didn’t have the training to use it. You see, using a dog whistle takes practice. You have to blow on it a certain way and with a certain level of force for it to generate the right frequency. If you do it wrong, nothing comes out except air.
No, I needed to invent something that a 5 year old child could use, over and over again with repeatable results and minimal training.
And that’s exactly what I did – and I named it Bark Begone.
I created a device that pumps out the same frequency as my dog whistle, but consistently, and over and over again. I also put a small LED light in the front of Bark Begone, to make it easier to get the dog’s attention. It took me a few months to get everything right, and when I had a working prototype I went over to my neighbor’s house and rang the doorbell.
Of course Roxy went off, barking so loudly behind the door that my neighbor couldn’t even hear me saying “It’s me, Sam, your neighbor!”. My neighbor was completely frazzled as she opened the door, and Roxy would not stop barking even when she saw it was me, who she knows very well. Roxy kept on barking despite my neighbor saying “Roxy Stop! Roxy, it’s Sam!”
Then, the baby started crying, awoken by the racket Roxy was making. It looked like my neighbor was close to tears, while I stood there smiling. The situation was perfect for my experiment… I had Roxy right where I wanted her. I pulled out my Bark Begone, pointed it at Roxy, who was by now foaming with excitement and barking like a maniac.
I pushed the button.
Roxy immediately stopped barking.