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Ask Dog Lady

Friday Oct 9, 2020

This article is from the October 8, 2020 issue of South End News.

Dear Dog Lady,
I had the sweetest and kindest chihuahua, prior to COVID-19. When I had to work from home, trouble began. My five-year-old Chihuahua growls only at me and she lets out some loud mean growls! She has never done this before. She does not bite but her growls are very extreme. She even snorts. I have tried time-outs and sending her to doggy daycare. I thought she was needing a break from me or more socialization. She does not growl at anyone but me and this started just when I started working from home. Please help.
Dear Sally,
You must be messing with something she thinks is hers—like the whole house. She had the place to herself before you invaded her space. Something the Chihuahua considers her own property is in jeopardy but Dog Lady has no idea what it could be. You would have a much better idea.
Whenever a dog's manner suddenly takes a turn, it is important to consider what is different and why this could be. So, examine your environment and look for something bringing her displeasure. Her low rumble might be easily solved with a stern show of Alpha force. At home, you're the fearless leader and you have every right to tell her to stop—as long as she's not growling at others or biting you
Command her to stop. Give a few treats as rewards if she does. Plan a visit to the veterinarian to make sure her persistent growl does not stem from a health issue. And, by the way, it's a great idea to send her to doggy day care as much as you can. The social time is so good for her.

Dear Dog Lady,
I have a two-and-one-half-year old Havanese, the sweetest little seven-pound dog you've ever seen. I'd rather not use her name (to protect the innocent) but we might as well call her "Sybil" because she has so many personalities. She takes on the traits of a pit bull whenever she sees another dog except her older brother, a thirteen-year-old standard poodle. To passersby she sees through the family room window, she barks and growls. Yet when they enter our home, she becomes a warm, friendly wanting to please little dog.
Outdoors, she becomes another "person," When it is time for her to relieve her bowels she will walk back and forth very quickly, up to two minutes. She starts and stops, starts and stops, as if she can't find the right place to go. The problem has gotten worse since we moved from our home to a condo, as she is now on a leash versus having freedom of the backyard. What are your suggestions for her aggressiveness and bathroom issues?


Dear Simone,
Little "Sybil" needs to get out and find herself. She's two and one-half— still a baby in dog years. She has so many personalities because she hasn't found her own voice yet. She's nervous about the world but, from your description, doesn't seem aggressive or mean.
You can help her become a good citizen if you give her a good long walk every day away from your condominium. If all Sybil has ever known is your old backyard and plots of grass at your new condo, she deserves more. If there is a local dog park, you could take her there and spend some time, make sure she explores, meets people and dogs, sniffs and gets sniffed — on and off the leash.
As for the potty dance, dogs are so finicky in this regard. They like to go where other dogs have gone. Smells are everything to them and if they smell another dog or critter of any kind, they can relieve themselves with relief. Don't hover over her when she starts to go. Allow her the time to make her move. Walk her more and you will be so pleased with the results.