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Pet World: Barking and growling dog makes owner hesitant to have friends over

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

We have an eight-month old adorable little Chihuahua-Dachshund mix that we rescued in June. He is full of energy all day long, bouncing from sofa to chair to sofa. My problem is his constant barking and growling when I walk into the living room. I understand that barking is good to ward of strangers but I'm hesitant to invite friends over due to this situation.

-Joe, Lynbrook, New York

Dear Joe,

The quickest way to build rapport with your dog is to train him. Start with “sit.” Use a clicker or reward word like “bingo” to mark when he sits. Then give him a treat. Once he understands that the clicker or reward word marks the desired behavior, you can train for behavior. If you walk into a room and he doesn’t bark or growl, click or say the reward word and give him a treat. If he is sitting near you and appears very relaxed, click or say the reward word and give him a treat. He will begin to understand what you want and that he should look to you for guidance on how to react to things.

As for visitors, keep him on a short leash so he is under your control. If he barks or growls, verbally correct him with a short “Shh!” sound or use a Pet Corrector, which produces a similar sound with compressed air. The idea is to get his attention so he will stop the behavior. Do not reward him for this. Instead, ask him to do something else, like sit. When he sits, use your reward/treat technique. It will take time and consistency, but eventually he should understand what is expected of him and comply with your wishes.

 

Dear Cathy,

I have a two-year-old cat that I rescued from a shopping center when he was about six-weeks-old. In the last six months or so, he has begun eating fabric. He has eaten the hems off my pants, the sleeve of my pajamas and chewed the entire edge of my bed quilt so that it now has a “scalloped” edge. I can’t tell if it is coming out the other end, as I have five cats and automatic litter boxes. I have found small remnants in vomit at times. Other than this, and him being quite rambunctious, he is a great loving cat. Any suggestions?

-Holly, Coconut Creek, Florida

Dear Holly,

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