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DOG TRAINING AND BEHAVIOR

A dog who can’t stop licking her toes may be suffering from an allergy and need medical treatment.

When the Licking Won’t Stop

You can’t get your dog to stop licking herself. Or perhaps she can’t stop licking you, or inanimate surfaces such as the floor or furniture. What’s going on? “There are many possible reasons a dog licks more than seems right,” says the head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM. Sometimes, the itching […]
Not the harmless activity it may seem.

Why Chewing Sticks Is a Bad Idea

We’ve all seen dogs who are perennial stick chewers. No sooner do they get outside than they pick up a stick and start chomping on it. It may seem harmless, but it’s not. If your dog is a regular stick chewer, you should teach him to “leave it” or “drop it” on cue or, if […]
Chihuahua shaking itself

Dear Doctor: Shake-Out

Q. My dog does a full-body shake-out several times throughout the day. Could it be a sign of a neurological problem? Maye Oliver Los Gatos, California A....
Some dogs keep going after their own tails to the point of utter exhaustion — yet they can’t stop.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

For some dogs it’s tail chasing to the point of exhaustion. For others, it’s continuous licking of the lower legs and feet — so much so that the dog strips off part of his skin and develops a pink and knobby heap of granulation tissue called acral lick dermatitis. (The non-stop licking can even end […]
Who’s walking whom?

Stopping an Undesirable Behavior

Has your dog ever gone faster than you wanted, tugging vigorously enough on the leash that it’s annoying — or even a bit dangerous? Has he ever nudged you from behind to get you to  pick up your pace? Just as we like to train our dogs to do things when we want them to, […]
This whale scat detection dog has helped in the effort to save marine life.

Help Wanted: Whale Poop Sniffers (Will Train)

You already know that dogs have an amazing ability to sniff out everything from explosives to an oncoming seizure in a human companion. But did you know that some dogs are trained to detect the odor of whale excrement as well as that of other endangered animals? The fecal samples give scientists trying to protect […]
Vacuum cleaners can be very scary for dogs, but you can help them get past their fear.

Fear of Inanimate Things

We have good news for you. If your dog is afraid of something — the vacuum cleaner, slippery floors, car rides — you do not have to go against your instinct to protect your pet from whatever terrorizes him. In fact, forcing him to keep coming into contact with something that frightens him and perhaps […]

Is “Bad Dog!” Ever the Right Thing to Say?

We often hear people use the phrase “Bad Dog!” when their pet is doing something they don’t want him to do. We think the phrase should be dropped, and not just because the words are often uttered with anger, which does nothing to help a dog calm down so he can learn a new way […]

Dear Doctor: Lip Licking

Q. I’ve noticed my dog licks his lips whenever a stranger walks nearby. Is there a connection, or is it just a coincidence? Bunky Le Paige Dennis, Massachusetts Dear Mr. Le Paige, A. A dog may lick his lips when he is feeling emotionally uncomfortable or threatened. Some animal behaviorists describe it as an appeasement […]
Well, maybe one slipper at a time.

Bring Me My Slippers

How is it that some people are able to train their dogs to perform complicated tricks, like rolling over and playing dead — or fetching someone’s slippers from another room or even another floor of the house? They do it by using a process that animal behaviorists call shaping, which leads a dog through gradual […]
The science on whether a lower-protein diet will curb aggression has been mixed.

Less Protein to Reduce Aggressive Behavior?

At the level of folklore, it makes sense to think that a diet relatively low in protein would help inhibit aggressive tendencies in a dog. After all, throughout history protein has been the nutrient associated with red-blooded men who use aggression to hunt and then dine on protein-rich animal food to keep up their strength […]
Wait, did she say Harry or Larry?

They Can’t Distinguish Between Words That Sounds Alike

If you use “Down” to get your dog to lie on the floor and “Done” for telling your pet that no more treats are coming or that a game is over, he may mix up the cues and not know what you’re asking him to do. That’s because dogs can’t tell words apart if they […]