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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.

Download The Full January 2024 Issue PDF

  • When a Play Bow Is Not a Play Bow
  • Short Takes
  • Dog Dates: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Yearly?
  • New Thinking on the Right Way to Help a Dog with Conflict Aggression
  • Warnings About Corn in Dog Food Unfounded
  • Adjusting the Dog to the Toothbrush
  • Why Won’t My Dog Settle Down at Night?
  • Dear Doctor

When a Play Bow Is Not a Play Bow

We’ve all seen it. A dog stretches out her front legs and leans down on her elbows with her chest to the ground but leaves her rump in the air. It’s called a play bow. That’s because it’s an invitation — to another dog or to a person — to play. Most of the time.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave a 4-Year-Old Alone with a Dog

We have often said that leaving a dog and a child younger than 6 alone together is not a good idea. That’s true no matter how gentle the dog and no matter how well behaved the child. A preschooler may not realize she’s hurting the dog if, say, she wants to press her pet’s eyes to see if they’re squidgy. Or she may want to play with the toys of a possessive dog and may misinterpret the animal’s displeasure. A new study only strengthens the case for not leaving small children and dogs to their own devices.

When Your Dog Starts Squinting

Some dogs start squinting in sunny weather as they age. It’s almost always nothing to worry about. There’s a sphincter muscle in the iris (the part that gives the eye its color), and it normally takes down the size of the pupil (the dark circle in the middle of the eye) to let in less light when the sun is shining bright. But as a dog ages, the sphincter muscle may not work as well, and too much light gets in. Ergo, the squinting.

New Treatment for Canine Epilepsy

Epilepsy, a condition of recurring seizures for which a cause most frequently cannot be found, is the most common neurological disorder seen in dogs. It affects an estimated one in 20 of them. In the past, veterinarians often prescribed unapproved phenobarbital tablets from the human drug marketplace to help control seizures. But the Food and Drug Administration has just conditionally approved phenobarbital for our canine pets. The drug manufacturer has five years to be granted full approval by moving evidence for the drug’s effectiveness and safety from “expected” to fully “demonstrated.”

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?*

New Thinking on the Right Way to Help a Dog with Conflict Aggression

If a dog gives a warning bark or snaps when the person who takes care of her goes near her food bowl or picks up one of her toys, she she may be afflicted with what is known as conflict aggression. A dog with conflict aggression might also sound a warning growl when the person goes to touch her, perhaps even just to attach the lead in order to go out for a walk.

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.

Crate Uses

Q: You said in a recent issue that the only time to lock a crate is during potty training. But what does someone do when she cannot be home, say, because of needing to go to work or a doctor’s appointment? The reality is that not all people have the resources to hire sitters or do doggy day camp. Also, what about when the vet prescribes strict crate rest for a dog recovering from an injury or surgery?