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WAG welcomes dog whisperer

Bark Busters changing lives, reducing stress



When Harry and Potter came to Whistler Animals Galore this summer there was nothing magical about their lives.

It was obvious that Harry, a five-year-old border collie, had been fending for himself for a long time. His buddy Potter, a black lab cross pup with an infected puncture on his muzzle, couldn’t stand to be without him.

They had been surviving on their own for so long that when Harry and Potter were put in separate kennels at WAG they dug deep in the ground to crawl under the fence, cutting their faces and getting stuck in the process.

They seemed like hopeless causes – with no social skills, high stress levels and lots of loud barking.

And then Sandy Yates from Bark Busters came along and changed their lives forever in a few short weeks.

Bark Busters has a unique way of training problem dogs and while Yates generally works with private clients, she offers her services free of charge to help the animals at WAG.

"The nice thing about working with WAG is that it really gets back to the roots of how Bark Busters started," said Yates.

The company, like Yates herself, hails from Australia where its founder, Sylvia Wilson, started obedience training dogs in the animal shelter where she worked.

"She was the dog whisperer of Wollongong," laughed Yates.

Soon, however, Wilson’s whispers paid off into several franchises, which now stretch around the world.

Yates brought the Bark Busters franchise to the Sea to Sky corridor and the Sunshine Coast four months ago.

She now counts the once hopeless cases of Harry and Potter among her success stories.

But more importantly, her work has had a huge impact on overall life at the small animal shelter.

"It’s been amazing," said Joanne Russell, WAG’s shelter manager.

"I’ve seen such quick results."

Yates’s training has set rules and boundaries in the shelter. She makes it clear that the humans are the leaders of the pack, a basic premise behind the Bark Buster’s philosophy.

"In the dog world there has to be a leader," explained Yates.

Problem dogs or disobedient dogs are the result of those dogs believing they are higher up in the pecking order than humans.

There are various techniques for humans to assert their role as leader in the house. Most important said Yates is to be aware of your body language and your tone of voice.

Yates demonstrates her technique with one of the shelter’s four playful shepherd pups.