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My Pet World: Neighbors are picking up poop — then leaving it on the sidewalk

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I am looking for your thoughts on what I find to be an increasingly unpleasant occurrence in my neighborhood. I am out walking with my 8-year-old Australian shepherd at least three times a day, varying the route so we canvass a large area of town. More and more, I am seeing dog owners picking up their pet's waste in brightly colored poop bags and then just leaving them on the edge of the sidewalk — or worse, someone's lawn. It seems like they are missing the point of being responsible owners when they neglect to "carry out" the poop bag. – Elise, West Hartford, Connecticut

Dear Elise,

That is bizarre. I have seen a poop bag on the sidewalk before and figured someone just accidentally dropped the bag. But if you’re witnessing people bagging the poop and then leaving the bag on the ground, that’s a different story. The only explanations I can come up with are: A) these people are using colorful bags to lay out a landing strip for extraterrestrials, or B) they don’t want to carry their dog’s poop bag around with them during their walks and plan to come back for it. I am hoping it’s the former because the latter is lazy and irresponsible, especially if they don’t retrieve it.

Dear Cathy,

Our lab-retriever, Addie, will often lick only one of her front legs until it's raw. She'll scratch herself occasionally, but it's nowhere near as often as the licking. Our vet said that this is often a sign of anxiety and that there really isn't a fool-proof cure for it, although one daily 10 mg prednisone for a hundred days helped very much. What is your opinion about this canine habit and what would you do for your pet family member? – Leslie, Oklahoma


Dear Leslie,

If your veterinarian ruled out medical problems, then Addie’s licking is likely from stress, anxiety or boredom. Licking releases endorphins, which makes dogs feel better, which is why it soon becomes an obsessive behavior. There are products on the market that treat hot spots and also contain products that deter licking, which I recommend using in tandem with the following suggestions.

Provide Addie with a pheromone collar to reduce some of her anxiety or put a pheromone plug-in in the room where she mostly hangs out. Then, combine some training with mental stimulation to keep her focused on other things.

When Addie begins to lick her paws, say “Addie, no lick.” When she looks at you, say her reward word, such as “bingo,” which tells her she did something right, followed by a treat. If she doesn’t stop to look at you, snap your fingers or clap your hands to get her attention.


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