DOG TRAINING AND BEHAVIOR

Misbehavior In Your Absence Can Signal a Case of Separation Anxiety.

Shes perfectly house trained as long as youre home but relieves herself on the floor when youre not there, making you pay for leaving her alone. Or she pulls all the trash out of the garbage can and strews it throughout the house. Rest assured shes not being vindictive. Shes feeling panicked.

Quirky Habit or Medical Condition?

You often notice your dogs teeth chattering. Is she cold, or is it something else? What about the dog who frequently seems to snap at the air? Does she have an aggressive streak, or might she be exhibiting signs of a neurological condition? What follows are six quirky behaviors and, given the context in which they are performed, what they might mean.

What We Say. What They Hear.

Its often said by animal behaviorists that dogs can learn up to 200, even 250 words. Can they?

Teach Your Dog to Wait

If your dog has learned an effective Sit, which is the first word many of our pets come to understand, you have employed an important tool for getting her to stay put - or Wait. You can command her to get moving again with a word like Release or Okay.

Off!

Its one of the most annoying behaviors many dogs engage in - jumping on people, including their owners. They clearly dont mean harm. On the contrary, theyre usually excited and trying to be friendly. But it can hurt. It can also soil clothes or even knock some people over, including the elderly and the very young. At the very least, it can be unpleasantly startling. Why is it often so hard to train a dog out of this behavior?

The End of a Punishment Era

Shock collars have now been banned in England, following a ban in Wales and ahead of what appears to be an upcoming ban in Scotland. Officials in England say that along with being misused to inflict unnecessary harm and suffering, there is also evidence that e-collars can lead to aggression or generate anxiety in pets, thereby worsening any underlying behavioral problems.

Dear Doctor: Can Spaying Fix the Problem Behavior?

I acquired a Bernese Mountain Dog from a breeder when she was 6 years old. She had never been bred because she has a heart murmur. But she was never spayed, either.

Do You See What I See?

Many dog owners have observed that their pets are able to see and hear images on TV. Theyll run in from another room if they hear a dog barking on a television show and then look at the screen and bark back, for instance. Some dogs even have a penchant for particular shows. Weve heard of one who would come in from another room to catch a little Law and Order when he heard the bah bum tones at the beginning of an episode and another who would run through the house to get to the television when the I love you, you love me theme song from Barney came on.

Sit, Down, Leave It, Come

Youre really good at cooing over your new puppy, loving her up, giving her delicious treats, and in general showing her that life in your household is going to be wonderful. But within a day or two of your new dogs arriving at your home, you should also be engaging in training. Its not a punishment. When a dog and a person are new to each other, the motivation to communicate is quite high, so thats a good time to start teaching her your cues for desirable behavior. Furthermore, when she gets it right, which will begin to happen quite quickly, she will feel a great sense of accomplishment - and so will you - and that will strengthen the bond between the two of you.

Is the Dog Being Territorial?

Steve Wojnar of Newton Centre, Massachusetts, is concerned that his five-year-old goldendoodle, 95-pound Angus, has become steadily more territorial about space he seems to consider his. He has never been particularly dog-social, Mr. Wojnar says, although he was never aggressive before and just chose to basically ignore other dogs. Over the past several months, however, he has started growling and barking at dogs who walk past our house. Most disturbing, he has been growling and barking at dogs who walk by when we have him out at our local pub, where he is allowed to sit or lie near or under the sidewalk tables. He has even taken to getting up (or trying to - my hand is always on his collar) and moving toward passing dogs, growling and barking all the while.

Dear Doctor: A Whiff of Toxicity?

I read that parts of the rose of Sharon are poisonous to dogs. I have several in my dog yard. Is this true? What parts? He chews on stems and once brought a flower in to enjoy.

Dear Doctor: The Dog Wont Go in the Yard

I have a four-year old Lab mix I adopted two years ago. My problem is that he will not pee or poop in my small, enclosed yard. He always waits until we go out, which we do at least three times a day.