Spray water for positive punishment?

  • Hi all, I've had my Basenji, Jasper, for about two months - he's six months old now and we're in puppy training class. I talked with the trainer about Jasper doing things I want to stop, like putting his front legs up on the coffee table to look around, scratching/digging vehemently at the carpet, and any play biting.

    She recommended for the biting the usual thing I've been reading: yelp or scream, ignore them, and then perhaps a time out. For the coffee table thing, she recommended a water bottle filled with water and about 1-2 tbsp. of vinegar, to squirt at him when he ignores repeated verbal commands.

    I'm not really sure what the best thing to do is. We have a lot of work to do together, that's for sure, I just don't want to screw him up!

  • We have used spray bottles with ours. Some find it very 'yucky' and will respond to it, others ignore it, and some actually seem to get angry about being spritzed! The good thing about it is that you can spray them from a distance so they don't associate the punishment directly with you (although all of ours are savvy enough to recognize the bottle in our hands and stop doing the undesirable behavior just by being 'threatened' with a spray). If the behavior is serious enough, i.e., for ours, fence fighting that goes beyond just playing and involves actual biting through the fence, we don't even use a verbal command, they just get sprayed without warning.


  • My guy learned about spray bottles from his breeder. I use a water pistol when necessary. (rarely, these days) Generally all I have to do is pick it up. 🙂

  • it worked for about 5 minutes on mine than she started opening her mouth to play with it

  • If he is ignoring verbal commands repeatedly he doesn't yet understand what you want him to do. So work more on whatever replacement behavior you would like to see. Whenever you see an undesireable behavior ask yourself what you want him to be doing in place of that. What are incompatible behaviors? For example, a dog can't be putting his paws on top of a table if he is in a down.

    I also highly recommend teaching a default sit. You can build off of that to increase impulse control and deal with issues like jumping and nipping.

    visit BCOA on Facebook. http://facebook.com/basenji.org

  • With Loki the yelp/scream as well as the spray bottle did not work. If I yelped when he accidentally bit, he'd actually get a bit excited and try to nip again like "Oh, what other neat noises can she make!". Stopping play and then ignoring, as well as redirecting his attention worked far better. The spray bottle worked for a very short period of time. He would think the water meant playtime and would race around like crazy and actually look for trouble after getting discreetly (as much as possible anyways) sprayed.

  • Just a note on positive punishment generally. It does work, and works well if the aversive is strong enough (depends on the dog what he finds aversive) but timing is critical. I agree that requesting incompatible behaviour works well and is an easier fix, depending on the problem. Many situations develop because we, as owners, are slow to pick up on what the dog is about to do. If you read him correctly, you can head off the behaviour before it happens, always easier to do than stopping it after he is well into it (and likely enjoying himself!) 🙂

  • I use a spray bottle sometimes. Like others have said, they will see you coming with it after a while….but I don't understand why u would put vinegar in the water? Water itself is enough of a deterrent for Bs anyways. In my case it works.

  • First Basenji's

    Spray works well for my pup. She was climbing the fences that divides my smaller yard with my cousins yard which has higher fencing on the other side surrounding it but the fence in between is shorter and I would sit on his side up on the deck and watch her in the corner of my eye when his dog are out.. if she even put her paws on the fence i would have to hose her because she learned how to jump and get over and go through their doggie door into the house and one of the dogs has a problem with her. So for her safety I had to do this so she is aware that unpleasant things happen if she tries to even touch the gate… it sucks but it worked extremely well. I use a small spray bottle when she tries to get in our face when we are eatting or go in the kitchen when we are preparing food. She still tries to push my buttons but when she seems me grab it shes knows to go away and won't come back.. unfortunately talking to her is like talking to a wall so this is just the best way to do it for us for her safety.

  • I found that at a certain level of excitement verbal commands don't work or worsen the case (consistent with what Cesar Millan tells us). Body language works better: show by your posture and/or movement and 'energy' that you mean business. Example: Binti sometimes eats poop. When I'm 10 yards away she will not stop when corrected verbally. A few steps in her direction do the trick - she now knows I am serious. In directing their behavior we try to talk as little as possible and use body language and energy instead.

  • Regardless if it is body language, visual cue or a verbal cue, what is important is the clarity of the message you are trying to communicate to the dog.


    visit BCOA on Facebook. http://facebook.com/basenji.org

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