My Pet World / Pets

My Pet World: Class Could Curb Feisty Behavior

WARWICK, RI -- These reader questions were answered at the conference of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) held here April 20-22. IAABC members are consultants in dog, cat, parrot and horse behavior who are available to help owners whose animals have behavior problems. (Learn more at www.iaabcorg.)

Q: My 8-year-old Golden Doodle has gotten bigger than my 5-year-old Shiba Inu. He doesn't bite the Shiba, but kind of nibbles at her, and even tries to haul her around by her collar. Sometimes he even does this at night, so I crate him. Is there anything I can do curb this behavior? -- D.S., Cyberspace

A: "Your Golden is an adolescent, and like all adolescents everywhere, he thinks he knows everything and his judgment is terrible," says Marjie Alonso, IAABC executive director and Boston, MA-based dog behavior consultant. "Crating the dog overnight is a very good idea as a management tool. The more often you allow your dog to practice this behavior, the more often you'll see it, and better he'll become at it.

"If you haven't done so already, enroll your dog in a positive reinforcement dog training class where you can focus on learning simple skills you can employ at home like 'sit,' 'stay' and 'down' to prevent the Golden from tormenting the Shiba. Also offer lots of play time, so your young Golden has an appropriate outlet for all that energy."

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Q: I have two adorable 2-year-old miniature Dachshunds we adopted when they were 11 weeks old. I take them out regularly, though they still urinate in the house on anything they want. I'm forever finding puddles around the furniture. When I enter a room, I can usually tell at least one dog is guilty by (his) body language, so I scold him and say, "No! Bad boy!" I clean the floors with Murphy oil soap. Being a maid to my dogs is exhausting. Any advice? -- D.B., Cyberspace

A: Certified animal behaviorist Katenna Jones, of Providence, RI, notes that your first objective should be to neuter these dogs, if you haven't done so already. There seems to be a pissing contest going on.

"Do your best to take them out as often as possible," says Jones. "Take them to the same place all the time, and as they do their business, deliver an irresistible treat (such as low fat, low salt lunch meat)."

Unless they've just done their business outside, make certain the dogs don't have the opportunity to make a mistake when they return indoors. Either crate them or tether them to you. The more often you take them out and they practice going outdoors, the less they'll have accidents indoors.

Jones says that as you enter a room, your dogs don't likely know they've done something wrong, but are responding to your cues. From here on out, if your dogs have an accident, say, "Shame on me." Don't worry about hollering at the dogs for what they've done wrong, says Jones (though she understands your frustration), which teaches them nothing. Instead, focus on what they've done right, which is instructive.

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