The Safest Way to Break Up a Dog Fight Involves Resisting Your Instincts

Dogs are lovers, not fighters. They are genetically primed to get along with each other — to explore together, to play with each other, and to relax in each other’s presence. But some dogs haven’t been socialized to understand other dogs. They may have had a bad experience with another dog as a puppy that was imprinted on their psyche very young, or they may not be feeling well. As a result, they can become anxious and prone to misunderstand cues from other dogs. And that can make them aggressive — to the point that they feel they have to attack to stay safe, even if they have not been provoked.

A Surefire Way to Ratchet Down Your Dog’s Pain

When your dog is off leash and won’t come back to you, your natural inclination may be to yell or show exasperation in some other way. It’s understandable. Dogs are faster than we are, and it induces anxiety when they’re in a situation that we can’t control physically. But doing a quick self-check and taking the lead by acting calmly will always serve your pet — and you — better. He’s more likely to return to you if he sees you’re not angry. He’ll be more likely to comply in general if you don’t make a bad situation worse by exhibiting displeasure that will only leave him anxious or confused. But were you aware that not losing it with a hand-wringing response will also serve your dog when he is in pain?

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’s Fur May Not Protect Him While He Waits in a Cold Car

Just as a car can be like a greenhouse in summer and become much hotter than it is outside, it can also act like a refrigerator in the winter and become much colder. A car has little to no insulation.

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.

Don’t Let Your Dog’s Light-Up Collar Flash On and Off

Especially during these short days of the year, light-up collars and leashes are great for taking your dog for that last piddle in the dark. But you may want to leave off the flash option so the bulbs don’t keep blinking. Flashing lights can bring on epileptic attacks in some people. And they may irritate some dogs, or worse, make them feel anxious or unnerved. Best to light up your dog’s night life with a steady glow. 

What’s On Your Dog’s Favorite Playlist?

An easy and surefire way to calm a dog who’s anxious, perhaps because you’re not home, is to leave on some music. A number of studies suggest that dogs find music calming. But not just any music.

Dog Dates: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Yearly?

Read this article with your smart phone nearby, your appointment book, or your wall calendar. You won’t need to jot down dates for things you’re supposed to be doing daily — those are tasks you’ll want to commit to memory. But reminders for what you’re supposed to tend to weekly, monthly, and annually will help you take the best care of your dog. What better time to get this in order than at the start of the year?*

Warnings About Corn in Dog Food Unfounded

Some pet foods advertise that they have “no corn” as if corn is a dangerous or “bad” ingredient for dogs. It’s not. Corn meal and ground corn in dog food is a good source of starch and an essential fatty acid called linoleic acid. Corn also provides several B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and carotenoids like beta-carotene.

Adjusting the Dog to the Toothbrush

James and Barbara Reed of Rockport, Massachusetts, are trying to get their 11-year-old shih tzu to accept a toothbrush. They adopted Wylie recently from an ailing female friend who has since died and report that he was in good shape except for decayed teeth. “We took him to the vet for an oral surgery that involved cleaning and extractions, which he tolerated well,” Mr. Reed reports. Since then, Mrs. Reed has attempted to get Wylie used to toothpaste from the pet store by putting it on pieces of meat. That worked well, but Mr. Reed is anxious about going the next step — getting Wylie used to a toothbrush.

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.

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?”