DOG TRAINING AND 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.

When a Little Dog Attacks a Big Dog

In response to our lead article on big dog-little dog attacks in the August issue, which stated that it is never your fault if a larger dog attacks your littler one, Janette Hankins of Maynardville, Tennessee, wrote, I very seldom comment but feel that I must jump in. One day we were walking our two Great Danes. Both were on leash. A small dog ran out from his yard, crossed the street, and attacked one of our dogs. Our Dane was bitten badly enough that he subsequently needed veterinary care, but he did nothing - until the small dog turned on my husband and began to attack him. (He, too, then required medical attention.) That is when our dog picked up the little dog in his mouth and tossed the dog away. We rushed both dogs to the vet, and she stitched up our dog without any issues. The little dog died later that night.

Dog-Friendly Fireworks? Yes.

Noise phobia is one of the most difficult problems to treat in dogs, and people with dogs who are afraid of loud noises are reminded of that annually on July 4th and, very often, New Years Eve - two holidays that come with booming fireworks displays. Their dogs shake, whine, run for cover, destroy household effects, and, generally cope very poorly with fireworks loud bangs. Why shouldnt they? Dogs have no idea that fireworks are celebratory. For all they know, colorful warriors are invading from the sky and, in the process, hurting their ears, which are much more sensitive to sound than ours.

When Its the Little Dog Whos the Problem

Katie Helf of Chickasha, Oklahoma, is very angry about something we said in the article on big dogs attacking little dogs in the August issues lead story.

Donating Your Dog to Science (But Taking Her Home at Night)

Do you have a dachshund with a moderate or severe spinal cord injury? Texas A&M Universitys College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, about 90 miles from both Houston and Austin, wants to study your pet to better understand the illness and begin to figure out ways to treat it.

We Like Em Like Us

Who among us hasnt been slapped on the proverbial wrist because weve treated our dogs too much like people, imbuing them with human emotions and feelings and thereby breaking scientists cardinal rule not to anthropomorphize animals?