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Ask Dog Lady

Thursday Mar 16, 2017

Ask Dog Lady

Dear Dog Lady,

I currently own a large (86-pound) Rottweiler mix. We may have over-socialized her a bit. The problem comes when we go to the dog park near our apartment with its small collection of "regulars." My dog (Coco Chanel) seems to get along with pretty much every dog she has ever met. But some dogs do not get along with her, and Coco can't read their signs.

There is a female German shepherd dog (GSD) that is also a "regular", but she seems to hate my dog's guts. When a fight starts, the other owners blame my dog even if my dog showed no aggressive signs until the other dog went after her (for the record if someone bit me I would bite them back too). The GSD has also gone after a variety of other dogs. We always remove Coco after a fight starts, but I have never seen the other owners do the same. What is a nice way to tell these owners not to come in the dog park when Coco and I there? Is there a nice way to tell someone their dog is outright aggressive?


Dear Anya,

In a negative nutshell-no can do and no. You have an 86-pound Rottie-mix. You have a lot of dog power under your control. You should keep your dog safely leashed around other dogs or people who may be afraid. You can't tell anybody else not to come to the dog park. You can only control your own actions-despite your parenthetical phrase about biting the other dog back. Steer your dog away if you see people or dogs unfavorable to Coco Chanel. Sure, you have as much right to be there as anybody else but you should choose times to be at the dog park when Coco can socialize without worry.

You might suggest to the GSD's owner that you walk the leashed dogs together. This might warm them up to each other. For the time being, do not blame other people or dogs for your dog's aggression. Your only task is to make sure your dog doesn't hurt anyone. Keep your eyes open to Coco's bad behavior and do not rationalize the aggression as another person's-or dog's-fault.

Dear Dog Lady,

Why do dogs howl? My dog howls sometimes and I wonder what causes him to do this.


Dear Victoria,

Why do birds chirp, lions roar, singers croon? Dogs howl because they can. With a howl, they exult, warn, fuss, and communicate with their kith and kin. If your dog howls in pain, you must pay instant attention. Otherwise, there's not much you can do about or understand about it. Howls are an ancient call of the wild, evoking an epoch when all dogs were wolves and the world was the forest primeval. Dog Lady always gets a bit of a thrill when the dog howls because it reminds me he's a very different animal with claws in the otherworldly.

Dear Dog Lady,

I always read your column and I have learned a lot from you and enjoy your sense of humor. I wonder if you've gotten any questions about on cancer sniffing dogs. All I know is that dogs must be trained to do this. Yet, I have heard anecdotal accounts of untrained dogs being able to detect skin cancer and responding by repeatedly "worrying" at the lesion, sniffing and licking it.

I have personally witnessed this. We had a black Labrador retriever-mix we rescued that would not leave my husband's right outer ear alone. He would sniff and lick at it all the time until it drove Steve crazy. I finally took a good look at his ear and there was a lesion there. I made an appointment with a dermatologist the next day. It turned out he had a basal cell carcinoma. After extensive surgery, it was completely excised. Our dog Wiley never bothered with that ear again. All I know is that I am a believer in untrained dogs' ability to do this.


Dear Annette ,

Dogs are amazing animals. Readers can take away their own lessons from your story.

Dear Dog Lady,

I have a 15-year-old Shih Tzu, Oscar. We are going away for a week and I want to leave him home and arrange for a doggie day care worker to come in two times day to walk and feed him. My husband doesn't want to leave him alone, but I think Oscar would be happier in a familiar surrounding rather than a cage. Do dogs really know the difference? (He isn't the brightest lamp).


Dear Linda,

C'mon, no dog is that dim. Of course, Oscar will know the difference between the comforts of home and a strange cold cage. Older dogs are more skittish so a stay in a kennel might be unduly stressful. Keep the senior Shih Tzu at home with regular day care visits for food and exercise.

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


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