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Question of the Week

This is the latest question of the week. Each week we answer one of the submitted questions and publish it here.

Shannon asks...

This question is about: Other

I have had Max since he was a puppy and he is now 6. He has snapped at my 1 year old son a couple times. I think I should get rid of him. The last thing I want is for my son to be scarred emotionally or physically..Max actually does not snap at him when he is eating or anything. It is when he is around his back side. Alex pulled out an entire hand full of Max's hair. Max cried and ran off. Alex feeds Max from his hand and Max takes it nicely. I do not want to get rid of my dog and do not think he would bite him, I just think he is trying to scare him. But am I willing to risk it? Nope. Would love to find some dog whispering trainer to fix it but I dont think that exists. Is this trainable behavior?

Max does not trust you son behind him since he pulled out a handful of his fur. It looks like he's ok with your son in front but does not trust your son behind him. I'm not sure I would either if I were Max.

Dogs are consistent in their behavior and so think that people are as consistent. So Max most likely thinks that every time your son goes behind him he's going to pull his tail and hurt him.

You need to teach your son to be gentle with Max (and other animals). They are living creatures with feelings and they do feel pain. Children can be very hard on pets until they learn to be gentle and interact properly. They hit and grab and poke all of which hurt. Until your son learns to be gentle with Max you need to be vigilant and not let your son interact with Max without your supervision. He is not trying to hurt your son, he is protecting himself. Max needs to see you educating your son as to how to interact, that will hopefully help him relax. If you are controlling your son Max won't have to.

Bryan asks...

This question is about: Other

Ernie my 10 year old Bullmastif/Lab mix is getting older and has arthritis but he still loves to go for his daily walk. He struggles with stairs and is drained after the walk through he doesn't seem to want a shorter walking distance. I know its bad for him but he will fight to keep going to the point of standing still and refusing to move any suggestions?

Hi Bryan, I'm sure that part of Ernie's desire to keep walking is because of the bond he has with you. Walking means he gets to spend quality time with you. As long as the walks are not steep climbs but on fairly flat or gently sloped areas, they are probably actually helping relieve some discomfort from his arthritis. I have read that movement and gentle exercise actually provides the best relief.  

You might speak with your veterinarian regarding your concerns and ask if there is a supplement that might help Ernie. If however you want to turn Ernie around and head home before he's ready, you might try taking some small bits of cheese with you and when he just stops and refuses to move, let him smell the cheese and then make him take a few steps and let him have a piece of cheese. Encourage and talk to him as you lead him home and if needed an occasional little piece of cheese to entice him won't hurt either.   

Rory asks...

This question is about: Other

I am an avid mountain biker and am anxious to take my young border collie with me on rides. I would eventually like to have her accompany me on 15-20 mile trips. Would this distance be within a well conditioned border collie's range? What age could I begin taking her on rides about one mile and gradually increasing the distance?

Hi Rory, How great that you want to include your dog in your outside activities. I would first check with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog's bones and muscles are fully developed so as not to stress her during growth. Second, while Border Collies are certainly high energy dogs capable of working long days, they as are most dogs, are mainly sprinters, not distance runners. She'll need frequent stops and lots of water. Dog's don't have the same ability to regulate their temperature as we do. They only sweat through their paws and they flatten out their tongues and pant to cool themselves so keep that in mind so she doesn't overheat. Again, your veterinarian will be a great resource to speak to. 

Kevin asks...

This question is about: Barking at people, dogs, animals, birds or where the dog barks for attention or at the slightest noise Other

My fiancee and I are getting married and were wondering if it would be possible to train our 5 dogs (2 Golden Retrievers and 3 Siberian Huskies) to bark "here comes the bride" as she walks down the isle. We love our dogs very much and would like them to be a part of the wedding. Thank you  Kevin,

Hi Kevin,
First, congratulations on your upcoming marriage. I love that you want to include your dogs in the ceremony. While teaching your dogs to bark "Here comes the Bride" might be very difficult, there are other ways that you might incorporate your dogs into the wedding. Goldens are very good at carrying things so you might teach each to carry a small basket holding the rings. Huskies are wonderful at pulling so they might be trained to pull a wagon full of flowers. I think if you and you wife put you heads together you'll be able to find a way to incorporate them using their natural tendencies. Best wishes from all of us at Bark Busters.

Laura in Wisconsin asks...

This question is about: Hyperactivity Jumping up at visitors or the dog jumps up at people on walks Toileting

This week's question comes to us from Laura Tomlinson in Wisconsin. Her question is about her 6-month-old male St. Bernard named Bernie. She writes: "Just the last few days after Bernie poops outside, he gets hyper by jumping and nipping at me. I make him sit, say No firmly, wait for him to calm down, and then try walking again, but that is not working. I have to grab him by the collar and pull him in the house. He JUST started this and I don't know why!! Otherwise he has been so good the last 2 months! Help! I want to stop this NOW!"

G’day Laura,

If we examine the interactions between the dog and members of his family, we will observe a series of actions and reactions. A component of these interactions will be communication. Communication from someone the dog sees as an authority figure will likely be responded to in a positive manner, while communication from someone perceived as a subordinate will not usually result in a change in behavior. Once the appropriate relationship is established, communication becomes more effective. In eliminating unwanted behaviors, we must address the behavior from a position of authority and indicate that the target behaviors (jumping up and biting) are not appropriate. Bernie needs to be taught a new way to respond without jumping up and biting.

Since you state that this behavior has only begun recently, it could be that he is reaching his “teenage years” in dog terms. If you haven’t already, you may want to ask your veterinarian for recommendations about neutering your dog, especially with regard to the most appropriate age for the surgery. Neutering can be helpful in reducing the testosterone levels in a dog’s body, which can lead to a calmer pet.

Dogs often react to physical handling, and it sounds like Bernie could be rebelling against this type of handling. Working with him on responding to voice control without having to resort to grabbing and pulling is essential to getting the behavior under control. It appears he doesn’t respect your authority in getting him back into the house.

Establishing yourself as an authority figure in your dog’s life can be achieved in a number of ways, including controlling access to resources. Demonstrating leadership to a dog is best done in a manner that is appropriate for the individual being trained.

A key component of our training focuses on the relationship between the dog and their humans. A balance of mutual trust and respect as well as consistent and predictable behaviors from both parties is required to help guide the dog into acceptable behaviors.

Your local Bark Busters trainer is skilled at recognizing the various types of dog temperaments, and can provide the type of guidance to help your dog effectively and safely respond to his environment.

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