Q I have two Japanese Chin brothers that have just turned 2. I have French doors to my patio that are off my family room, giving full view to the outside, which includes a long driveway to my unattached garage.
The problem starts when I pull into the driveway as I return home. I can see them going crazy jumping on the glass and scratching it. By the time I walk from the garage to the house, they are still jumping and scratching on the glass. These doors are not the doors I take them out to go potty. Because I'm not in the house, I cannot make a correction to this behavior. Any suggestions?
— Colby, Manchester, Connecticut
A It's difficult to train a dog when you're not near them, and certainly a challenge to train away enthusiasm. But I have a suggestion on how to solve the problem. Buy a free-standing baby or pet gate with side panels. There are wide ones available, but you might need two to cover both doors.
Place them in front of the door on the inside of the house so each edge of the side panels touches the doors. The dogs will still be able to see you approaching, but they can't scratch the doors and can't tip over the gates. The gates can be easily moved when you need to access the French doors.
You also might try to reduce the excitement of your greetings by not engaging your dogs the moment you walk in the door. Say hi, but drop the mail, your keys and wait for about a minute until the dogs settle down a bit before petting them. This may never remove their enthusiasm altogether — you are their favorite person and you are home, but it can help them settle down much quicker.
The pet gates with the side panels are the best bet, however.
Q I've had my indoor rescued cat for eight years. She occasionally leaves a poop or two here and there outside her unlidded litter box. Her vet considered constipation and recommended pumpkin baby food or an emptied capsule of Metamucil in her wet food. I did pumpkin for maybe a year then switched to the stool softener. Neither solved the problem.
Because I make notes in my journal, I eventually realized a pattern: The outside-the-box pooping occurs during Tucson's hottest months, so the vet speculated that Kitty might not be drinking enough water. I haven't learned how to make her drink more water.
— Camille, Tucson, Arizona
A Keeping a journal is a good way to recognize patterns and solve problems. The good news is, getting cats to drink more water is fairly easy.
Buy a cat drinking fountain. Cats are attracted to the sights and sounds of the continuously flowing water. There are lots of varieties to choose from, so check them out.
Q I am not an animal person, but I did rescue two cats so my elderly mom would have company when I left the house. I get along OK with both cats, but I'm not overly happy having them around. Why do they insist on crawling all over me when I shoo them away?
My mom would love for them to give her that kind of attention. I raise my voice at them, spray water on them and sometimes even find myself swatting at them to stay away from me. I am not a mean person; I just don't like cats very much.
— Kate, West Hartford, Connecticut
A Cats often become attention-seeking when they are bored. Make sure your mom has some wire toys and a laser pointer that she can play with her cats. Get a good scratching post or tall cat tree and rub some catnip on it so they will use it. Cats love to hang out in high places. Finally, buy some feline pheromone spray at the pet store or online to spray on your mom. Pheromones will comfort the cats and attract them to your mom. Make sure none of it gets on you.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to email@example.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.