Q: We adopted a 3-year-old Havanese two years ago. Up until last month she enjoyed going out on her leash for her walks. About a month ago, she became panic stricken upon seeing the leash and hides under the table. If we do get the leash on her, she cowers in the corner and does not move. Nothing happened that we are aware of to cause this fear while she was with us. She does go out in the yard without a leash to do her business. We tried all kinds of treats and bribes but she will not go. Otherwise she adapted to her new home very well. -- Steve Esja, Plainview
A: Well something obviously happened to cause this phobia, and only the dog can come to the conclusion that wearing a leash is no big deal. No amount of persuading on your part will do this, as animals never accept words or intentions over their instincts.
But here are some ideas: Go out and buy a few cheap leashes and cut them into different lengths. Make one 6 inches, one a foot, one 2 feet and one 3 feet. Then, with no drama or apologies, clip the 6-inch-long one onto her collar in a calm manner. Let her walk about the house and yard with it. If she hides under the bed, then so be it. At 6 inches long it is too short to tangle on anything and eventually she will realize that wearing this little leash is no big deal.
When she is totally calm and accepting of it, then put the foot-long leash on her and allow her to get used to it in the same manner. With the longer leash you have to keep an eye on her as she drags it about. as you do not want it to get caught up on something and thus start her phobia all over again. When she is accepting of the foot-long leash, then move up to the 2- and 3-foot- long ones. Do not be in a hurry with this. It may take her a week or 10 days to get used to any of the lengths. The goal is to get her comfortable on the full-length leash. There are many things that we just cannot explain to animals in a manner that they can understand, so we have to then set up the situation for them so that they can learn it for themselves.
Q: In March we lost Bosco, our beloved 15-year-old beagle. Our other beagle, Myah, turned 6 in June. She grew up with Bosco, and kept him young. They were real pals and loved and respected each other. A real mush, Myah wanted nothing more than to give kisses and be showered with attention, which she received. We felt that she was used to having a companion, so we took our time, but found a rescue "puggle" and brought Cooper home in July. He is really more of a beagle in attitude, and even looks, but will always be a bit smaller than Myah. He is a year-and-a- half old. Initially, they got along swimmingly, with Cooper conceding that Myah is the alpha dog, giving her all of the room and respect she needed. Soon they were sleeping together, wrapped in each other's arms.
However, in the last three weeks, things have changed, and Myah has become downright nasty toward Cooper. He is bewildered (as are we) and is starting to keep his distance from her.
Some theories of mine: Myah does not like the car, never has and Cooper loves it. For that reason I take Cooper with me on my errands every Saturday. (Is she jealous?)
Both dogs are left in the kitchen when we are away. Cooper has been great with not having accidents in the house, but he opens cabinets and chews and destroys things, though he is getting better. I just can't cage him -- I know we probably should, but he was in a cage and I don't want to put him back. Is Myah getting angry about it now and blaming him that she no longer has run of the house like she did before he came?
Last night they were both asleep next to us. Myah woke up and immediately snapped at the sleeping Cooper. She growls and snaps, sometimes for no reason at all that we can see. Other times, it is because she does not want to play (which she still does when she feels like it -- it's just that he wants to play all the time). We give her more attention than we ever have, and sneak her extra treats when Cooper is not around. Also, she seemed sad before she got nasty, but now she seems both. Cooper is just confused. -- Ken Burr, West Islip
A: You are overthinking this situation a little too much. Myah does not have to love Cooper, she does not have to like Cooper, she does not have to admire Cooper. All she needs to do is not hurt him physically. Perhaps Myah did have warmer feelings toward Cooper at one time and, for whatever reasons, her feelings changed. But it is not because Cooper likes to ride in the car or open cabinets. One dog would never judge another for actions like those. And while Cooper may be confused, he also seems accepting of the situation, and, as long as he is willing to take her insults on the chin and not cause any drama of his own, then the best thing that you can do is to just keep out of this soap opera. Just be sure to respect the status quo. If Myah snaps at Cooper and there is no bloodshed, then do not berate her or judge her and do whatever it takes so that both dogs clearly know that Myah is top dog. If you give Cooper the idea that perhaps there is a way for him to change things, then he may just try and do so and then you will have bloodshed.