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Ask AKC: Your Questions Answered!

(Thursday, April 10, 2014)

Our PAWsome Facebook fans came through again and posted some great questions as part of Ask AKC! Here are our answers to ten of the most commonly asked questions:


  • Missy Ervin MontgomeryMy English Bulldog will not ride nicely in the car! He barks loud, cries and tries to twist out of his seatbelt no matter how short the car ride. I have never had this problem before. He acts basically the same way at the vet...stress?

    Your dog may have associated car travel with bad things happening to him. As a very young pup she might have been taken away from her mother and thrown into a car to go to the vet to get shots which wasn't pleasant. At such a young age a few bad trips can ruin a dog's appeal to a car ride.

    Start A Desensitization Program

    Start with putting your dog in the car with you for a few minutes a day. Don't turn on the car or drive anywhere, just sit quietly giving praise and gently petting.

    After a few days sitting in the car, try staring the car and letting it run for a few minutes with him in it. Bring a toy and play with him in the front seat. Make it a happy time. Then shut off the car and exit. Do this for a few days until he shows great enthusiasm for going to the car. The next step is to drive up and down the driveway once then stop and exit. Do this for a few days and then maybe try up and down the street. One of the most important things you can do is be a confidence builder for him. Show him that being in the car is fun and trouble free.
  • Alescia DeckerHow do I stop my Pug from shedding?

    Now that the days are getting longer, the added sunshine has triggered the “big winter coat blow.” Just as there are certain times of year that are worse than others there are also certain times in a dog’s lifecycle that can be equally problematic.

    Vacuuming your dog?

    There are a variety of products on the market aimed at reducing shedding in pill form, sort of like anti-shedding supplements. These products appear to be a mix of healthy oils, vitamins and minerals. You may want to try some of these. Also, I would recommend that perhaps you put your dog on a palatable oil, such as a fish oil like salmon. Before adding a new supplement or drastically changing your dog's diet, please consult with your veterinarian. A healthy shiny coat will be less likely to shed year round. Daily brushing will also help keep the coat healthier, improve skin circulation and reduce shedding.

    You can also vacuum your dog or the floor, the choice is yours! But there are dog specific vacuums that are easier to use with better attachments than your household model. You can get models that are not only a vacuum but also can be used as a blower for drying your dog after bathing, which also helps reduce shedding if done with very warm water to help remove dead coat.
  • Ben BrooksWhy can't I teach our Brittany to stop jumping on people and the door when I'm letting him out?

    Try these tips to train your dog not to jump on people.
  • Janice Hubbard How do I get my 4 month old to walk on a leash?

    Check out a few different methods of teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash here.
  • Trish Reynolds How do you get a male dog to stop peeing everywhere?

    You didn’t mention if your male dog was neutered or not, but if he continues to exhibit territorial behaviors like urinating in the house, I would suggest getting him neutered if he is not already. This will curb that urge somewhat.

    An obvious quick fix would be to pick up items he likes to pee on and place them away in a separate room. However, if you’d rather train him ‘not’ to pee on something then use his obedience talents and teach him the ‘leave it’ command. Next time he saunters over to a potential target, tell him to ‘leave it’ get his attention with a wonderful treat and reward when he walks away from the bag or box.
  • Ishara Hettiarachchi My puppy has a biting problem. How can I stop it?

    Biting or "mouthing" is normal behavior for puppies and because they don't have hands to explore with, they use their mouths. While you can't stop this behavior you can teach the puppy "bite inhibition" which lets him know when he is being too rough.

    A Big Game
    You must step in and take charge to teach the pup that his boisterous playing and nipping is now unacceptable behavior. Since biting is a game you must learn the rules of the game. Puppies learn from experience. We cannot train them to understand when biting is too much. This natural learning comes from seeing what the "reaction" is to the object they are biting. A startling yelp from mother says "too hard, knock it off."

    If your puppy nips at your ankle and it hurts, let out a loud "ouch" directed at him. If he comes back for another nip, yell "ouch" even louder. Make an impression that you are unhappy. If he comes back for a third nip, simply walk away and ignore him. If he is nipping at your fingers try folding your arms. This will signal him that "If you can't play nice, we won't play at all."

    If your pup is persistent and comes back again for a nip, this time grab him gently by the scruff of his neck and say “No". If he returns again, grab that scruff and repeat. If he still doesn't get a clue and comes back once more (remember this a game to him) grab him and hold him until he shows a sign of submission, such as ears back, a relaxed body or just being still for a few moments. The pup may squirm and shriek at the prospect of being held, but you must not give in to his objections. Just wait it out and he will settle. When all is calm, release him and tell him he is a good boy. He will test your limits so be prepared.

    Also, it's a good idea to keep a stash of suitable chew toys and bones handy that can replace your hand or ankle as an object to gnaw on. This proven "substitution training method" of immediately replacing off limit objects with approved items, followed by praise, teaches the puppy right from wrong when it comes to chewing.
  • Allison Warren Any suggestions for a Beagle that barks and runs around any sign of a thunderstorm?

    Fear of loud noises, including thunderstorms, is a common complaint. Pets can develop sound sensitivities usually between the ages of two and four. And they tend to get worse with age, sometimes not even showing up until very late.

    Dogs who behave in this way are usually triggered by some external force. They may know that the impending storm is approaching by sensing such things as the increasing wind, darkening sky and the drop in barometric pressure as the weather front approaches. They know it's coming and anticipate “impending doom” which makes them nervous to all sounds.

    Some behaviorists will tell you to try a desensitization program where you gradually introduce the “fear” noise at a very low volume and then increase the volume and praise when they behave appropriately. This takes a long time to implement and a lot of patience on the part of the owner. You won’t know it worked until someday your dog isn’t afraid anymore.

    Others may suggest trying to divert your dog’s attention to the “impending doom” by playing a fun game with her at the right moments to turn the bad triggers into good triggers.

    Remedies

    Your veterinarian may suggest you treat the dog with some kind of tranquilizer or go the more natural route with herbal mixtures. Sometimes these work, sometimes they don’t. Also, you could try one of the “tight shirts” on the market for loud noises.

    But one “cure” I learned from a breeder. She swears by this and I have seen it work on one of my friend’s dog who used to jump into the bathtub during a thunderstorm and quiver. Get yourself a bottle of peppermint oil from the health food store. When the storm is approaching put a drop or two of oil on the bottom of each foot, right on the pad. While no one knows why this works, once the oil is on for a bit, the dog no longer cares about the thunderstorm. And she’ll smell very nice!
  • Mary Johnson What are some good little dogs that like little children? Where in Wisconsin can I find a breeder?

    There are a variety of smaller dog breeds that could work for your family. But rather than decide what type of dog to get based on size, you should consider what your family’s lifestyle is like before you start your breed search.

    What type of activities do your kids like to do to have fun? Are they most likely to sit in front of a computer or video games to enjoy themselves or would they rather build a fort in the woods and play adventurer? If they are of the couch potato variety, I would recommend something in the not needing much exercise category like a French Bulldog or a Pug.

    If your kids are active, I would recommend one of the sporting, terrier, or hound breeds. From the Sporting Group there are some smaller breeds such as the English Cocker Spaniel or Field Spaniel, which are easily trained and have a wonderful temperament. The Beagle from the Hound Group makes an excellent pet, and is quite portable at usually less than 20 pounds.

    Originally bred to hunt vermin, terriers are feisty, smart and full of energy. The Miniature Schnauzer is great if the kids suffer from dog allergies at all, since their single coat sheds less and produces less dander.

    Other popular breeds that love kids and would do well when properly supervised are the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Havanese, Shih Tzu, Boston Terrier or Toy Poodle.

    Learn more about these breeds on AKC.org and WOOFipedia.org. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, start talking to breeders. A great way to meet different breeds and their breeders is to attend a dog show. You should also take advantage of AKC’s Breeder Referral and check out your favorite breeds’ national Parent Club.
  • Krista Oliver What's the best way to get your dog to stop barking?

    There are several common recommendations for dealing with problem barking while your dogs are at home alone. Here are 5 of the most common solutions.
  • Cathy GuerriWhy do dogs eat other dogs’ poop? I have a male and female Boston. He eats hers. She is older. Does not eat his.

    The technical term for eating feces is copraphagia. Whatever you call it, it’s a tricky behavior problem to solve.

    When a dog has a behavior problem such as jumping on people to greet them, we know there is basically one cause; the dog wants attention. So we make getting attention contingent on not jumping up, and the problem is easy to fix. But poop eating, now that’s a different story altogether. There are at least 10 reasons that people believe are the causes of dogs eating poop.

    Check out some common theories as to why dogs eat poop and potential solutions.