Squirt bottles

I have seen many posts on behaviour whereby the method used of correction is the squirt bottle. I would like to know how many people agree with this mode of correction.

IMO if you are using the squirt bottle indiscriminately, then it doesn't correct the behaviour as much as masks it. Wouldn't it be better to try to correct the behaviour in a positive way rather than using the bottle? Again, this is my own opinion, and I have been training dogs for about 10-12 years now, and I see this all the time. It may take a little longer to find a way to correct the behaviour in a positive way, but I'm seeing over use of the squirt bottle.

I'm not trying to PO anyone, just a query.

I use them when we are at the dinner table and the dogs are begging.
It only took a few "showers" before they knew to lay down when we were eating.
Now, its not an issue.
So, for me, it worked.

I don't use squirt bottles…well occasionally I do. The only instance I use it is when the dog is ignoring "leave it". The reason I use SB then is because it is a consequence for ignoring a request, and I can use it remotely. If I get up, the undesired behavior is long over by the time I get to the naughty dog. One of the main reasons I don't use a squirt bottle is that my dogs quickly learned they could engage in the unwanted behavior when the squirt bottle wasn't in my hand. And, yeah...with leave it, I could probably train a more reliable response to the behavior with positive techniques...but sometimes I AM a lazy trainer, especially now with twins 😉

But I always give a cue first, and then use the sb as a consequence...not just randomly squirting to get them to stop whatever they are doing. And I would never use it with certain behaviors like overzealous play, aggression, guarding...because IMO it would raise the level of arousal rather than calm the dog and, as you mentioned, create a "mask" over the real behavior.

@Quercus:

I don't use squirt bottles…well occasionally I do. The only instance I use it is when the dog is ignoring "leave it". The reason I use SB then is because it is a consequence for ignoring a request, and I can use it remotely. If I get up, the undesired behavior is long over by the time I get to the naughty dog. One of the main reasons I don't use a squirt bottle is that my dogs quickly learned they could engage in the unwanted behavior when the squirt bottle wasn't in my hand. And, yeah...with leave it, I could probably train a more reliable response to the behavior with positive techniques...but sometimes I AM a lazy trainer, especially now with twins 😉

But I always give a cue first, and then use the sb as a consequence...not just randomly squirting to get them to stop whatever they are doing. And I would never use it with certain behaviors like overzealous play, aggression, guarding...because IMO it would raise the level of arousal rather than calm the dog and, as you mentioned, create a "mask" over the real behavior.

Same here. I have used it, not any more. And only for the 'leave it'. And of course first a warning and a praise afterwards. I think it works well. It does no harm to the dog, you can use it on a distance.. great with a dog who takes something and then runs off….

Now, don't get me wrong, I do use it in the same instances. ie disregarding a command. But I don't use it as a training technique. I think the behaviour should be addressed first.

I have never used a squirt bottle and I don't envision a situation where I would ever use one. I'm pretty opposed to using aversives, which a squirt bottle is even though it is very minor and doesn't do any harm to the dog, and I try to avoid using consequences in training altogether. Instead I would reward the dog for doing a desired behavior which is opposite the problem behavior.

Like in the situation at the dinner table, I would reward the dog for lying down, and since it is impossible to be lying down and standing next to me begging, I wouldn't have to punish the dog for begging.

But I strongly believe in purely positive and reward based clicker training and feel that any problem should be fixed with rewards and not punishment, but I know not everyone feels that way.

While I don't have a problem with using squirt bottles, I think that they are used far to often to deter a behavior rather then to address the real issue behind the behavior.

If a dog is begging at the table, put them in their crated… When we eat dinner the dogs are "hanging" around the table, but they don't beg... however if we have company.. they know a "sucker" when they met one, so they are kenneled while we eat. Win/Win situation

Basenji Mix

Recently, and within the last few days, I've used the SB on Duke to curb his excitement when someone's at the door, or when someone's leaving the house. I've forever had a problem with him for these issues. I tried just about everything to get him to stop his spastic, wild and crazy behavior with these events. He submits when squirted, (stops barking and stops aggressive running up and around subjects at the door), but atleast he stops! We tethered him, stopping him short - but he hasn't learned and drives me/us nuts with the routine. Then we crated him, each and every time so people can come in or leave safely. But that hasn't worked over the long term of calming him when not in crate. So as lazy is, the bottle sits right by the door for handy use - just in the last few days. I wonder if repeated use will finally teach him to "SIT and SHUT UP!" Maybe I'll put a box of treats next to the water bottle to give him when he behaves - after the squirt. Think that might just get him to like being squirted? ARGHH!

We use the squirt bottle when our two get a little too crazy.
I usually just have to hold the squirt bottle and they will stop whatever they were doing wrong. It's better than yelling at em. 🙂

Jill, you may try the treats without the water bottle. Just make him sit and stay while holding the treat. When he does it successfully, give him a treat. Extend the period of time he has to stay… pet him and praise him too… and eventually, you should be able to simply pet and praise him and he will act the way you want.

i have to use because i can not get abby to leave the cat alone. i havetried and tried to come up with ways to get her stop messing with the cat, and if the cat runs thats even worse. so i use the SB to keep her at bay so the cat could get away.

Basenji Mix

@etzbseder:

Jill, you may try the treats without the water bottle. Just make him sit and stay while holding the treat. When he does it successfully, give him a treat. Extend the period of time he has to stay… pet him and praise him too… and eventually, you should be able to simply pet and praise him and he will act the way you want.

Thanks etzbseder…but try doing these exercises when he's over excited, focused on his agenda - the people at the door - chaos is the scene. He doesn't hear or even see me, I'm in his way. The method you describe works perfectly when training - which he is very good at and the treat is what he wants. I do think that the water bottle (at this point) is the only thing that distracts him for a nanosecond. Then he submits to the bottle, but remains anxious about the people at the door. It is my hope that I can eventually do without the bottle (when/if he gets it) and just treat as described. Something to look forward to - total calm.

We don't use a squirt bottle very frequently. However, I find that it is a quick deterrent when the two of them decide that our 2 y/o's snack is THEIR snack and gang up on him. We have also used it on the infrequent occasions that their playing has gotten out of hand and has become ugly. Now, we have found that if we verbally get their attention and then just show them the bottle, things settle down quickly. And, right or wrong…it was a life saver when we first brought Jayden home and queen bee, Cory, decided he was NOT going to live in her house. Those first two weeks, they got into some pretty vicious sounding (and looking) brawls and the water quickly broke them up safely. Obviously, using a squirt bottle wasn't the only thing that finally got them to get along but it sure helped in a pinch!

Pat

@Duke:

Thanks etzbseder…but try doing these exercises when he's over excited, focused on his agenda - the people at the door - chaos is the scene. He doesn't hear or even see me, I'm in his way. The method you describe works perfectly when training - which he is very good at and the treat is what he wants. I do think that the water bottle (at this point) is the only thing that distracts him for a nanosecond. Then he submits to the bottle, but remains anxious about the people at the door. It is my hope that I can eventually do without the bottle (when/if he gets it) and just treat as described. Something to look forward to - total calm.

You said in an ealier post that you have tried tethering. How did you reinforce calm behavior while on the tether?

I think etzbseder is right, and rewarding is the way to go but I would recommend combining tethering and rewards.

I would first practice with people that are in his home normally and are therefore less exciting to him. Place him on the tether. At first before you even start with someone coming to the door just work on rewarding him for sitting or laying down while on the tether. Practice walking away and coming back to him and only reward if he is in a sit or down. Once he is pretty good about staying calm while on the tether, have the person come to the door and either knock or ring the bell. If Duke is sitting and calm reward on your way to answer the door. When the person enters have them give Duke a treat if he is sitting or laying down. At first they may need to toss the treat to him if their approaching him is too exciting. You may even want to use a bed or blanket to help him learn that there is a place he should wait when people enter so you can work towards eliminating the tether.

Basenji Mix

Wow - I didn't reward with treats when tethering. And didn't do it with family familiar people first. It pretty much just made him restricted as I ordered him to sit/stay but it made him even more excited. Silly me - 'cause I believe in treat training. That might be why it didn't work well, and went to crating - which worked, 'cause he always gets a treat when he jumps in his crate. Dohhh!!! My bad… :o I am going to try this ASAP. Thanks - I'll let you know in a few days how he does.

I recently gott a squirt bottle, mainly because he has a terrible counter surfing habit. Now, when I a baking cookies, all I have to do it say his name, grab the squirt bottle, and he gets downs, no squirting needed. Praise, treat, finish cookies.

My friend had a squirt bottle with her dog (not a b) apparently it stopped working when the dog saw the squirt coming and just opened her mouth to catch the water.

I dont use the squirt bottle method. Although it does annoy him and he stops doing what he wasnt suppose to be doing, he then just starts barking at the water bottle.

My girl Calli (heeler mix) will actually snap and drink the water from the water bottle-so it's useless for her anyway.

A squirt bottle has been the absolute best bad behavior deterrent for us. It helps with mouthing, getting into people things, and scratching. We rarely use it now and "wanna get squirted" usually works now.

When first working on discipline with Colbey we ended up using the squirt bottle with him when he was ignoring commands. I had to get after my room mate several times because he would squirt Colbey and then give him the command, instead of giving the command first and only squirting him if he continued the bad behavior. Now we rarely use it. We still keep one out and handy for the times when he is ignoring us from across the room. Now I simply have to say his name and touch the bottle, and Colbey immediately behaves.

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