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DOG TRAINING AND BEHAVIOR

Dogs Dig It

Different breeds of dogs dig for different reasons. Terriers, originally bred to dig for varmints that burrow into the ground, might dig fast and furiously in the dirt — or bed linens — to work through their hereditary instinct. They’re figuratively engaging in the so-called appetitive phase of preda-
tory behavior.

How to Keep a Dog from Climbing the Canine Ladder of Aggression

Dogs don’t act aggressively to strut their stuff or show who’s dominant. That’s a human thing. Canine aggression is a response to what a dog perceives as a threat. With aggressive behavior, the dog is trying to deflect the threat and restore harmony. Dogs so want harmony, in fact, that most of the rungs on the Canine Ladder of Aggression, a graphic devised by British veterinary surgeon and behaviorist Kendal Shepherd, BVSc, are not acts of aggression at all but signs of appeasement. They include such behaviors as yawning, nose licking, and turning away. They all mean “I’m uncomfortable; you’re making me anxious. Can you please stop doing the thing that’s making me feel stressed and unsafe?”

Neighbor threatens to shoot aggressive dog

Q: My black Lab, about three years old, is very aggressive. While perfectly friendly once she knows you, she will nip strangers’ heels. But my bigger problem is that several times now, she has jumped on a smaller terrier who lives next door, actually biting that dog badly enough that it had to be taken to the vet to clean its wounds and perhaps get stitches. The last time it happened, my neighbor had the gun out and demands that I get rid of my dog or he will kill her. Unfortunately, I have never been around when all this happens. I should note that my dog is afraid of thunder and firecrackers and that this is the only dog she has ever bothered. I am in my 80s and live alone. I do not want to lose my pet. If you could help with suggestions, it would be very much appreciated.

Your Dog is Not Relieving Herself in the House to Get Back at You

If your potty-trained dog eliminates in your absence, it’s not to spite you or be vindictive about you leaving. It’s most likely because she feels panicked in your absence. In fact, that look on her face when you arrive back home is not remorse or guilt — it’s fear. She sees you’re angry at her and doesn’t understand why, since all she knows is that she has just been through an ordeal.

Does Your Dog Suffer from Motion Sickness in the Car, or is it Anxiety?

The image of a dog sticking his head out the car window is iconic. Even though it’s unsafe because it means he’s not safely secured in his seat, most dogs love to feel the wind on their face as the vehicle rushes along. Yet a small but significant minority of dogs feel nauseated during car rides, literally. They hunker down for what’s going to be a grim experience. They whine, pace, or smack their lips. Some drool or vomit.

When a Play Bow Is Not a Play Bow

We’ve all seen it. A dog stretches out her front legs and leans down on her elbows with her chest to the ground but leaves her rump in the air. It’s called a play bow. That’s because it’s an invitation — to another dog or to a person — to play. Most of the time.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave a 4-Year-Old Alone with a Dog

We have often said that leaving a dog and a child younger than 6 alone together is not a good idea. That’s true no matter how gentle the dog and no matter how well behaved the child. A preschooler may not realize she’s hurting the dog if, say, she wants to press her pet’s eyes to see if they’re squidgy. Or she may want to play with the toys of a possessive dog and may misinterpret the animal’s displeasure. A new study only strengthens the case for not leaving small children and dogs to their own devices.

New Thinking on the Right Way to Help a Dog with Conflict Aggression

If a dog gives a warning bark or snaps when the person who takes care of her goes near her food bowl or picks up one of her toys, she she may be afflicted with what is known as conflict aggression. A dog with conflict aggression might also sound a warning growl when the person goes to touch her, perhaps even just to attach the lead in order to go out for a walk.

Why Won’t My Dog Settle Down at Night?

It’s people with cats who frequently say their pet can’t settle in for the night and keep them up with their weehour wanderings throughout the house. Those with dogs often just complain that their pet hogs the bed. But there are plenty of dogs who experience nocturnal disturbances, too. Unlike with cats, the reasons for their difficulty staying calm at night can be quite serious, requiring your intervention. Here are four possibilities to consider for a dog’s late-night anxiety.

Crate Uses

Q: You said in a recent issue that the only time to lock a crate is during potty training. But what does someone do when she cannot be home, say, because of needing to go to work or a doctor’s appointment? The reality is that not all people have the resources to hire sitters or do doggy day camp. Also, what about when the vet prescribes strict crate rest for a dog recovering from an injury or surgery?

How Well Can You Read Your Dog?

Are you readily able to understand the expressions your dog makes? The answer is more likely to be “yes” if your dog has a plain face of a single color rather than a face with more than one color or a lot of markings. So say the results of a study of more than 100 dogs and their people called “What Is Written on a Dog’s Face?”

If a Service Dog Comes Over to You

You know that you’re not supposed to pet a service dog without obtaining permission first from the dog’s person. The dog is working and could be distracted by your attention.