Ask AKC with Lisa Peterson


April 2008

Dear Lisa: Could you give me some advice on how to handle dogs that run up to me and my Miniature Poodle (12lbs.) while we're taking our daily walk? I've recently had two pit bulls and a Lab rush up to us, and I had no idea what they were going to do. I picked up my dog and turned away, but if any of the dogs had jumped up, they would've easily knocked me over. Luckily, all three times the owner was nearby and was able to run out and take control of the dog. One of the pit bull owners became very angry and said that she is sick of people being afraid of her dog! I'd like to know the best way to handle these situations in the future. -- Nervous Nellie

Dear Nervous: Based on your question, it sounds like the other dogs were off-leash. Is there a leash law in your town or at the park where you take your daily walk? Clearly, the best way to handle this situation is to gently remind the other dog owners that their dogs should be leashed especially if there is a law. This way no loose dog should ever be running up to you. What I find frustrating and I have had this happen to me in a state park where there is a on-leash policy, is that owners ignore the restrictions and let their dogs run loose. They erroneously believe that they have total control over their dog if it is off-leash and dogs being dogs when they see another one of their species, they automatically want to run over, say hi, check them out and immediately offer to engage in a play session.


Safe Dog Walking

However, this can be frightening to the owner with the dog on-leash because they do not know what the intent of the loose dog is. Is it friendly or could there be trouble? So where does that leave you?

In such a situation, as you see the dog coming at you, pick up your dog while you alert the owner in a loud voice to "call your dog off." Sometimes there isn't enough time for the owner to collect up an approaching dog. As a back-up I keep a small can of pepper spray with me and if the approaching dog does become menacing I wouldn't hesitate to use it for the safety of all the dogs and their owners. Better to deter a potentially dangerous dog first than to be faced with breaking up a dog fight or defending yourself later.


Dear Lisa: I have two Yorkshire Terriers that are 4 months and one week old. I was wondering when they will be considered an adult. They both weigh 5 lbs. 4 and 6 ounces, respectively. I'm also wondering when they will stop growing. They still have their baby teeth, but the vet tells me anytime they will start losing them. - Prolonged Puppyhood

Dear Prolonged: The American Kennel Club considers any breed of dog to be an adult at 12 months of age. This is based on the dog show rules for puppies. However, each breed and even individual dogs of the same breed can vary as to when they "mature" past that playful puppy stage. When their teeth fall out isn't a real indication of adulthood as their "adult" teeth should come in way before their first birthday.

A general rule of thumb I found in my experience across many breeds that dogs tend to "settle" into their adult behavior around 2-years-old. A way to facilitate this is to enroll your puppies into basic obedience classes and teach them the proper behavior that you expect of them. By you taking charge and giving them the direction they need, they will develop and grow into wonderful, well-mannered adult dogs.

As for their size, again generally, dogs grow in height until around 10-months-old or so and then begin to fill-out in muscle and bone structure until 2-years-old. But most dogs reach their "adult" weight around 12-months-old. The Yorkshire Terrier standard expects adult dogs to weigh no more than 7 pounds. So far, your dogs seem to be of correct weight. Just be sure not to overfed them or give them too many treats that might lead to overweight adults.


Bark Back ~

~ I noticed you recommended Omega-3 fish oil for dry skin in your recent AKC column. That is what I had been recommended previously, but I couldn't find it for dogs. But then I found some and have been adding Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil to the dried food I feed my four Pomeranians for almost three weeks now. They love it, and have beautiful coats now. Plus, my one dog that had big dry flaky dandruff does not have dry skin any longer. There are definitely benefits to adding this oil to their food. Thank you. - CR

~I always learn a lot reading your monthly newsletter, but have not saved them or printed them out. Is there a way I can still print out old issues of the newsletter? Last month, one of your topics dealt with a dog's coat as it relates to warm weather, etc. I have an Airedale Terrier. She sitsout on our porch all year round (during the day). People are always pressing me to shave off her coat in especially hot weather (I live in Southern California). I rarely do so. What do you advise? -- S.R.

S.R.: As I mentioned in that column keep her coat well-groomed but intact, as it acts as insulation from both cold and heat. You can read all the Ask AKC columns here.


Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions we cannot offer individual responses.

(c) 2008 The American Kennel Club, Inc.