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Wednesday Mar 1, 2017

Ask Dog Lady

Dear Dog Lady,

My seven-month-old old little pup eats poop. Is this normal? How can I stop this behavior?

Dorothy

Dear Dorothy,

Potty mouth behavior in dogs is disgusting. Dog Lady also has a dog that forages for feces. The behavior can send any doting owner into a swoon of "yuck." (Now, people, is there any better reason NOT to allow your dog to kiss you near or on the mouth?)

You stop the bad manners by keeping your dog on a short leash and by giving a gentle jerk with a quick and firm "no" each time he or she swoops to pick up **##. You must be the vigilant one and you must stay on top of the behavior. When your dog pays you mind by abandoning the offensive snack, you can reward your pet with a bona fide dog treat.

There are many reasons dogs do this: They might be missing something in their diets. Or they were not schooled well by their mothers in the natal nest. You can ask your veterinarian when you next go in for a visit. In truth, no one can definitively explain the whys and wherefores of canine coprophagia, which is the technical word for the pathology of eating dung.

The good news? Your attentiveness will pay off and, eventually, your young pup will be trained out of a bad habit.

Dear Dog Lady,

We have a seven-year-old black lab named Sooty who is a dog lover's dream come true. He is smart, funny, handsome, loyal and loving. He is extremely close to our daughter Ella who left the nest for college this year.

When we talk to Ella on Skype, she will often try to talk with Sooty We place the laptop close to him so he can see her but he doesn't seem to be able to recognize Ella on the laptop. We have tried holding a dog biscuit close to the screen. He loved the treat but went back to staring into space. Do you have any suggestions for teaching dogs to cross the great technology divide?

Ella's Mom

Dear Ella's Mom,

Dogs bark but they have no byte. They are digital innocents. They understand technology only as far as you can throw a tennis ball. If they can't smell it, Skype doesn't exist. They can't taste it - except when you hold a biscuit near the screen. They can't relate to it in any way - except through the TV when some dogs get overly excited at the sight of other animals. They bark and jump at the screen because they presume the doggy through the looking glass is real. Alas, their hissy-fit is folly. Have you ever tried to say "hi" to a dog over the phone? Your voice may be initially soothing but, inevitably, the dog will walk away and lose interest.

Dogs are present in the present - not the far-off and illusory. They don't do holograms or ghosts in the machine. When Ella shows up in person, Sooty will be all over her. For now, a dog biscuit near the laptop screen will have to sustain him. Don't force your Lab to interact with something or someone he does not know or care about. When you talk to Ella on Skype, just let Sooty wander about without forcing him to care about air.

Dear Dog Lady,

We rescued a small Jack Russell/West Highland terrier mix two years ago. He was either one or two years old so now he's either three or four. We just love him. When we got him, he had full-blown heartworm, was very thin, and had a puncture in one of his eyes. He is now at a good weight and healthy as can be.

One thing I'm concerned about Toby is that I notice he cries during his sleep. Sometimes it turns into yelping. It was happening all the time when we first brought him home and still happens, but not as much. My heart breaks to hear him cry. I always gently pat him and let him know everything is okay when he's in this state.

If you have any suggestions for us to help him with his nightmares, I would appreciate it. I hate to think of what his life was like before he came to live with us to cause these.

Suzie

Dear Suzie,

You have a Jack Russell/Westie mix and you rescued an angel. Please don't worry when your angel yelps in his sleep. He's not suffering; he's dreaming as dogs dream. It's perfectly normal.

Of course, you don't know what Toby is dreaming about. Neither does anyone else, so Dog Lady will opine. He could be having a nightmare but he could be chasing a squirrel in his subconscious, or galloping through a field of heather back in the old country (British Isles for Westies and Jacks), or cornering a rodent, a cat, or imaginary varmint. Your heart shouldn't break but you should be glad Toby is having a deep dream and he is peaceful enough to fall soundly asleep. Your patting him only wakes him to the real world, which isn't such a bad thing, but it interrupts the colorful subconscious activity.

Visit askdoglady.com and read the new blogs, "Shorty Knows" and "Dex and the City."

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