Q My 3-year-old medium-sized sheepadoodle (Old English sheepdog/poodle mix) gets excited when anybody comes in the door, even me and my husband when we try to put a leash on her. It takes five or 10 minutes before she calms down. When she's in this hyper-state, she won't stay in a "sit" position. When we picked her up from the breeder, we met Abby's father, and he was a jumper too.
She's a very affectionate, loving dog who loves everyone — people, dogs and cats. I tried clicker/reward with a trainer, but it didn't work. I'm considering sending her to this trainer's boot camp for a week. Any ideas? My grandchildren are visiting next spring, and my 5-year-old granddaughter is small for her age.
Green Valley, Arizona
A Asking a happy dog to sit is no easy feat. You can send her to boot camp, but it's the same person you have been training with, so he or she will use clicker training to train her. Clicker training works, but it requires consistent commitment on your part. You would need to always carry a clicker and treats with you during the initial training phase.
A trainer will work with Abby by turning his or her back on her when she jumps. When Abby sees she is not going to get any attention (attention includes using your hands to push her away from you or off you), she will drop to all fours. It's that moment when the trainer clicks and gives her the treat. When paired with a word like "off," this training will improve her jumping behavior. However, this exercise must be repeated over and over again under all sorts of circumstances for her to understand.
I believe this is something you and your husband can train Abby to do. If you are more comfortable with trainers giving you a head start, then let them begin the training. But make sure they train you and your husband because it's your consistency with the techniques that will ensure the pup's success.
Q I think you missed it with your answer to Stephen of Valley Stream. Having been a responsible breeder for 30 years, I have encountered deafness. It seems, to me, Millie's problems could all be related to it. There is a simple test done by a veterinary neurologist call the BAER test, which determines unilateral or bilateral hearing loss. It's not painful and reasonably inexpensive. There must be places in Nassau County where it's available. For any dog problem, medical causes need to be ruled out first.
— Mark Shangold,
A I always recommend readers rule out a health problem when there is a behavior problem. Because Stephen said a veterinarian told his daughter it was "hard to test a dog for hearing," I assumed he had already been down that path.
Thank you so much for letting me and my readers know about the BAER test. I have let Stephan know to look for a veterinary neurologist for Millie.
Q Having read your response to the chocolate bandit of Christmas about theobromine poisoning, I just wanted to clarify one point. Most Hershey kisses are milk chocolate, which has about 1/4 of the toxicity of dark chocolate. (One-ounce of milk chocolate per 1-pound of body weight would equate to 1/4-ounce of dark chocolate per pound of body weight.) The danger rises with the cocoa content of the chocolate. White chocolate has hardly any cocoa content. I know your space is limited, but if people think all chocolate is created equal, it could have deadly consequences.
A You're right. While I mentioned toxicity is based on the type of chocolate, I didn't spell out the dangers that day. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous to our pets.
Recently, during a radio interview in WLIP, Kenosha, Wisconsin, I spoke with Frank, Kim and Rhianna on the Happenings Q&A show about chocolate and dogs. Rhianna mentioned that her cat gets into chocolate and wondered if there was a risk to cats. Yes. While cats are more likely to play with the wrapper than eat chocolate, if they do eat chocolate, it doesn't take as much to have a toxic effect on them.
So, keep all chocolate away from all pets.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.