Ask AKC with Lisa Peterson
November 2007

Dear Lisa: My 3-year-old large (100+ pounds) Labrador Retriever constantly eats toilet paper, napkins, paper towels and socks if they are accessible. We have to change our way of life practically so that he doesn't eat what we leave around.Yes, we have been lucky and he passes these items either through his bowel or vomits them up. We live in terror that we will leave something around and then he won’t be able to pass it.– Hungry Hound

Dear Hungry: The first thing you need to do is close the bathroom door, pick up the laundry and get yourself a crate for your pet. If you are not able to supervise your dog when home and he has a problem with chewing, you need to set up some physical solution immediately, such as keeping him in the crate when you are not home, before he does damage to his digestive system.

In order to stop this behavior you are going to have to teach your dog a more appropriate “owner-approved” behavior. Be proactive and let your dog know what you are expecting from him. I’d suggest obedience class to teach him how to pay attention to you and to increase the amount of exercise he gets, maybe increase your daily walk by 10 minutes a day to start. Overall, just spend more time with him. I suspect his chewing is a stress reliever and a way to get your attention that he is craving.

Time to Toys
This is what worked with one of my dogs that had very bad toilet paper-eating habit. Whenever I saw my dog had something in his mouth, I instructed him to either “drop it” or asked for the object with the “give” command and then replaced it with an approved toy or his favorite sterilized bone. I also kept all his “approved” toys in an open-topped box and taught him that anything in box was okay to chew. Whenever he went into his toy box on his own I would praise him with a “good boy” and make a big deal out of this good behavior with verbal kudos or treats if handy. With paying a little more attention and training on your part and a newly instilled behavior for your dog, soon their will be harmony in house.

Dear Lisa: I have an 18-month-old yellow Labrador Retriever that I would like to breed, but need to get the proper hip certifications first. I have been told that the dog will have to be sedated for the hip x-rays. Is that an overnight stay at the vet? – Healthy Checks

Dear Healthy: Before you schedule that visit to your vet for hip x-rays, consider waiting six months until your dog is at least two-years-old. Two years of age is the age when most canine health organizations, such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), will evaluate your dog’s hip x-rays and issue a permanent certification number. Any test done before that will only be evaluated on a preliminary basis.

Breeder Resources
If this is your first litter I’d recommend downloading a great booklet from the AKC website called, “A Guide to Breeding Your Dog”. Another great resource for you is the OFA web site which will explain the procedures that should be followed by your veterinarian during the x-ray procedure. Work with your veterinarian on the best procedures for you and your dog as some vets do not sedate dogs since they are able to lie still enough during the x-ray on the table. Some prefer to sedate dogs. For example my vet does not sedate my dogs. Talk to your vet about what procedure they use. If your regular vet is not accustom to doing hip x-rays for evaluation, ask other breeders in your area who they use routinely. This procedure would not require an overnight stay, but usually you drop the dog off in the morning and pick him up later in the afternoon.

~ Bark Back ~
I received a number of reader responses regarding last month’s column about a dog’s weight and hypoallergenic breeds.

Dear Lisa: I've read your article on weight and it appears now that my 10-month-old Sheltie is overweight. Can I put him on a weight loss program? I'm thinking that it's the "treats" I give daily that have probably caused this, so is there a low calorie treat I can provide? – S.P.

One trick that has worked for my dogs is feeding baby carrots in lieu of treats. They are low in calories and just as crunchy. – Lisa

Dear Lisa: On one of the questions you answered this month was a suggestion for a non-allergic dog. We have a 9-month-old Havanese. They are smart, non-shedding, medium sized and cute! - G.A.

Dear Lisa: When talking about larger hypoallergenic breeds, why didn’t you include the Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers? They don’t shed and their hair is less curly than the two you mentioned. It just seemed like it was a choice I would have included. Of course I have one and love it, but that isn’t the only reason I would recommend it.

Dear Lisa: I read your advice on hunting/sporting breeds that are hypoallergenic in my husband's Your AKC today. I just wanted to add one to your list. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a virtually shed-free dog that is great around allergy sufferers. This is our breed of choice, and we tend to think that it doesn't get near the recognition that it deserves. Thanks for your time! – D.H.

Dear Lisa: I’m disappointed that you didn’t mention the German Wirehaired Pointer. My husband has severe allergies. We’d always raised Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers. When our pets died of old age I was devastated not to be able to have another dog in the Sporting Group class (I dislike Poodles). I called AKC and they mentioned I should check out the Wirehaired Pointers. I did. We have 2 now (one 4 and one 2). They’re wonderful and my husband hasn’t had an allergy attack from them since they joined our family! – S.B.

Dear Lisa: You missed the best breed on the list—the Irish Water Spaniel! – P.C.

Thanks readers for the great suggestions! There are a variety of breeds that work well for those with allergies. As you can see many are included in our list. It’s important to remember that a person’s allergic response is individual to each dog regardless of breed. I look forward to hearing from you.

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 to be answered here in Ask AKC.

© 2007 The American Kennel Club, Inc.