Common Training Mistakes

We’ve all seen it: Someone tells their off-leash dog to “come,” the dog doesn’t come, and the person keeps repeating the cue, getting angrier and angrier each time. Still, the dog doesn’t comply. Why should he? By saying the word over and over to no effect, the person is giving the dog the clearest message […]

Uptick in Dogs Biting Children

The day the U.S. went on COVID lockdown back in March 2020, Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic head Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, left Massachusetts for California to care for her parents, both of whom are in their 80s and had just been hospitalized with the virus. “A couple of weeks into my stay there,” she says, “I […]

Dear Doctor: Baby on the way

Q. We have a 5-year-old miniature schnauzer who is used to receiving a lot of attention from us. But as we are now expecting our first child, we’re soon not going to have the amount of time or energy to devote to Khloe that she is used to. Any tips for making her feel less […]

Dear Doctor: Dog acts aggressively to other dogs on leash

Q. I know that dogs can become more aggressive when on leash because they’re not in control of their own movements; they might feel threatened when forced into situations during which they have to come face-to-face with other dogs because their natural inclination might be to approach another dog more cautiously — perhaps from the […]

He’s Not Doing It Out Of Spite

You’ve been gone all day, and your dog trashes the house — or defecates on the rug when you know he can hold it in for the number of hours you were away. He’s doing it to let you know he’s displeased that you left him alone, right? Wrong. “People tell me all the time […]

Why Dogs Howl

Answer this question. A dog howls to say: A) I’m over here. B) Eureka, I found something good! C) Stay back! D) Gee, that siren has a high-pitched sound! E) Any of the above. F) None of the above. G) Some of the above. The correct answer appears to be E: any of the above. […]

Common Household Noises May Severely Stress Your Dog

Microwave beeps, the chirps of a smoke alarm system when a battery is dying, cell phone noises, alarm clocks going off…these high-pitched sounds are just some of the noises commonly heard in your home that may leave your dog feeling extremely unnerved. Even noises with lower frequencies — the tumbling of a clothes dryer, a […]
Did she say “beef tips” or “cheese dip?”

Why Dogs Tilt Their Heads

You know how dogs will sometimes tilt their heads adorably with an almost quizzical look on their face, as if they’re trying to process information or figure something out? It appears that what we think it means is more or less what it does mean. When researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest worked with […]
Throwing certain kinds of balls directly to a dog with a long-handled launcher can result in deadly choking.

When Games of Catch Become Deadly for Dogs

When the Center for Pet Safety started receiving more and more reports of dogs dying because of toy balls lodging in their throats during play, the organization decided to investigate. It turned out that balls that are relatively heavy for their size (heavier than a tennis ball) and also have a particularly smooth surface are […]
Look for relaxed body language. Neither dog nor trainer should appear stiff or overwrought.

The Three Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Dog Trainer

The very best trainer for your dog is you. Nothing strengthens the bond between you and your pet like patiently teaching cues — “Sit,” “Stay,” Come,” and so on — and rewarding her not just with food but also with your delight in her ability to follow through. All the give-and-take involved helps foster the […]

Dear Doctor: Dog talk

Q. I keep reading that a smart dog can learn up to 250 words and that some dogs can learn many more than that. Does that mean they know words but just don’t have the vocal chords to speak? Mark Linden Bayshore, New York Dear Mr. Linden, A. Not exactly. Dogs don’t understand human language […]

Your First Dog Might Be Your Most Aggressive

A person’s first dog is more likely to behave aggressively than a dog who lives with someone who has already had dogs. That’s the finding of a study looking at information compiled on more than 9,000 dogs, conducted by researchers at Finland’s University of Helsinki. It makes sense in light of the fact that the […]