Columnists :: Dog Lady
Ask Dog LadyThursday Jul 26, 2012 Dear Dog Lady,
I have a recent rescue from a puppy mill. She is a six-year-old Havanese. She is sweet and actually seeks out human touch (very unusual for a mill dog). My question: Is it possible to completely housebreak a mill dog? I am feeling frustrated.
Understandably, it’s exasperating - two steps forward, one step back. Grit your teeth, open your heart and stay with it. So-called "puppy mill" puppies are raised in horrendous conditions where they are kept in cages and go untrained, relieving themselves where they live, which is anathema for a dog from a healthy background because pups instinctually do not want to foul the nest. Puppy mill spawns are so hard to train because they were raised, literally, like savages, not knowing the difference between outside and inside.
It’s hard to predict if your dear Havanese (a petite fluffy breed; ABC’s Barbara Walters has one) will totally get with the program because there are so many variables - as with any living breathing creature. Even dogs birthed and raised in the best of conditions are not total automatons. Barring any medical conditions, however, and with constant vigilance and positive reinforcement from you, your dog should eventually become reliable. Walk her often; carry treats always. Lavish praise and goodies whenever she performs. Soon, your Havanese will have no choice but go wherever you lead her.
Dear Dog Lady,
We had two Min Pins (miniature pinschers). One just died due to complications from diabetes. What is the preferred way to handle the other dog, and what to look for other than the obvious "depression" he may experience? (And yes, I do not intend to "humanize" the experience from the dog’s perspective.)
Definitely you should "humanize" the experience from the dog’s perspective. Treat the surviving Min Pin tenderly. Imagine he’s grief stricken and needs daily support and encouragement. Take him for an extra walk, give him an extra treat, arrange to take him to a place where there are other dogs so he can sniff and be sniffed in the company of his canine kith and kin. We can only envision how dogs handle personal loss without wakes and sitting shiva. Humanizing your dog will help you visualize what he might need.
Dear Dog Lady,
Someone at the veterinarian’s office where my daughter takes her Chihuahua said that if the dog is kept in the house and on a leash when outside, the dog does not need to take preventative heart worm medication. The reason? Because you know what your dog has eaten and where it’s been. Does that seem right to you?
Yikes, no. In fact, this advice is quackery. Heart worm medication taken monthly is a no-brainer for any dog - leashed or unleashed, indoors or out - because it is a relatively mild drug that packs a wallop of protection. Mosquitoes infect a dog with heartworms and mosquitoes are small enough to flit anywhere - inside the house, outside the house, in the yard, wherever a dog goes. Every dog should be protected because an animal with heart worm can become wretchedly sick. Don’t risk it. Go to a veterinarian and ask for heartworm meds if your dog is not already protected. . (Dog Lady reminds her readers that she knows a lot but she is not a vet nor does she play one in this newspaper or on the Internet.)
Dear Dog Lady,
If a dog starts acting odd, scared, wild eyed, or hides in a far corner; walk slowly through the house listening for a low/dead battery beep. My poor dog suffered until I figured out the laptop low battery beep was hurting his ears.
This low-grade beeping must grate on a dog’s sensitive ears like a truck’s back-up alarm at 4 in the morning. Thanks for the tech tip.
Dear Dog Lady,
We have Hugs and Kisses. Hugs is 25 pounds and Kisses is 12 pounds. They are five-years-old and still very fearful. I just put up a doggy-level screen door up so they could exit and enter the house. They bark and bark and will not go through it. They’re scared even of a toy with treats in it. They push it around and when it moves, they bark. Also, they run from kids and seem scared of them. Overall, they are pretty docile but their interaction with kids, screens and toys is poor. What can I do?
Leave them alone. When you hover, Hugs and Kisses believe they can bark like crazy and run you. To get them to use the doggy screen door, line up a row of irresistible treats (cooked chicken bits or freeze-dried liver chunks) on the other side of the door, walk away and wait out of sight for the inevitable crossing of the screen.
Hugs and Kisses sound as if they should get out more. Dogs that bark a lot need the great natural muffler-exercise.
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