There are so many tips and tricks circulating out there for the uses and benefits of vinegar. Well, let me add another to that lengthy list – dog training!! Yes, water and vinegar is a staple in my dog training handbag. Here are some ways it can be used:
Barking. There are instances when something as simple as a spray bottle mixed with water and vinegar can address that excessive barking. I recently had a puppy come through one of my classes, a big issue the owners wanted addressed was the excessive barking. I suggested the water/vinegar spray, say “No Bark” when spraying the dog. Now all she has to do is say “No Bark” and the dog will stop the barking. Will it work this way every time with every dog? Of course not, but before reaching for that shock collar or other drastic means of bark control, why not try a simple less-evasive tactic?
Jumping. This is another huge issue for nearly all of my clients. When it comes to the smaller dogs especially, it can be easier to have an alternative method to get them to comply. A spray bottle with the right mixture of water/vinegar can help with that. It is usually not the only tool you use but it can be used in combination with others.
Rough play. When dealing with a puppy they can sometimes get a little rough on the playing, they start using their teeth on you and they don’t always know when to stop. You need to teach them from a young age when you say enough is enough they can’t just keep going. If you have told them to stop but they keep coming, use the spray bottle. Spray them and say ENOUGH! You must be serious, do not let them continue showing their dominance. This behavior needs addressed early before it turns into bigger problems down the road. Sounds innocent enough being “just a puppy” but if allowed to keep doing what they want when and how they want to, you may be creating a dog with complete disrespect for obedience in the future.
In my style of positive reinforcement dog training, there must be a negative consequence for negative actions just as there are positive consequences for positive actions. If you are not able to be connected to the dog for the negative, that is where the spray bottle comes in handy. There is a negative consequence to their behavior without you having to get to them to deliver it. Keep in mind, negative does NOT equal MEAN. It is just something that is unpleasant to the dog.
I have spray bottles throughout the house, easily accessible when I need them. I also suggest to some of my clients to get the small travel size bottles that you can carry with you. If you are walking your dog you can always use that to help with the barking and/or if they start jumping. If they realize no matter where they are they can get sprayed for this type of behavior it can help them correlate the good from the bad. Do not forget to praise them when they are doing good. If they do not bark at that dog they see across the street when they typically would have, give them extra EXTRA loving’s and praise for not barking. This will help to not need the spray bottle as much. The positive should always be more overpowering than the negative, give them a reason to be good.
As for the ratio of water to vinegar, that is something you need to play with. Some dogs are more sensitive to the vinegar than others, some need a stronger scent of the vinegar. There are times when simple water works as well. That is not typical but I have had a couple dogs where it did the job. The vinegar is safe, it will not hurt your dog. Your goal is to get the scent to them, so you are aiming for the nose. A stream tends to work best, it delivers the scent more directly. The spray will disperse it more and it will loose the potency by the time it reaches the dog. An unfortunate side effect – your dog and house may smell like vinegar!! But to me, that is acceptable if my dog can learn how to behave!