My Pet World: How to stop a small dog from being mischievous when left alone
We have an 11-year-old dachshund named Schnitzel. Whenever we leave home for more than an hour or so, she pulls down clothes, pulls the Kleenex box off the table and pulls the tissues out or grabs the end of a toilet paper roll and has a grand old time pulling that out too. What can we do? -- Lloyd, Tucson, AZ
Schnitzel may be suffering from a little separation anxiety or boredom when left alone. In both cases, keeping her mind busy will refocus her on less destructive activities.
Because she is a dachshund, you can keep tissues and clothes out of her reach by moving them to higher ground or, in the case of the clothes, shutting closet doors. As for the toilet paper roll, I am surprised she is getting at this if it is at standard level. You have two ways of solving this problem though; one is to close the bathroom door before you leave, or two, move the toilet paper roll to the counter or back of toilet, so she can't stand on her hind legs and reach it.
Once things are pet-proofed, introduce some puzzle toys, like a Kong with frozen peanut butter in it, that you can give her when you leave the house. It may not keep her attention the entire time you are gone, but after the finishes with it, she will likely take a nap since the mentally acuity needed to play with a puzzle toy often wears dogs out physically too.
We have a cat who is very relaxed and affectionate with my husband and me, but when someone comes to our house she runs and hides. If she is inside, she hides under our bed. If she is outside, she won't come in until she is sure they have left. Is there anything we can do to ease her fear of people she doesn't know? Our cat is 6 years old. -- Dawn, Hebron, CT
It's never easy to socialize a cat. They either like people or they don't, and if they don't, their only recourse is to hide under the bed or in a closet. Cats also are sensitive to the activities in the home, so even if she likes everyone she meets, she might not like all the activity in the home from your house guests.