Meet the parents when picking pup.
QMy chocolate lab is very boisterous and rips the wallpaper. He also takes cushions and tears valuables to pieces. We an obedience trainer but it didn''t work. What can we do? A The success of stopping such destructive behaviour hangs on whether it occurs when you are at home or not. If you are home, a quick and decisive 'No', followed by placement in a containment area for a short time, such as a dog crate, would eventually get the message across. Increased maturity and neutering will also help calm a boisterous male dog. If the bad behaviour occurs when you are out, then this is more complicated and likely associated with separation anxiety. Using something as simple as a dog crate may seem like a cop out, but can be the single most important piece of canine kit to keep him out of trouble and your sanity intact. Don't think of it as a doggy jail, but make it exciting with soft bedding, toys and chews, so he his happy to go in there. Used for an hour or two at time, you should then exercise your destructive labrador.
Q I have a two-year-old labrador bitch, who enjoyed her walks. Now, when you take her near any main road she is frightened of the traffic. Her tail goes between her legs, her ears go down and she starts pulling away.
A Slow and patient approach is needed to help desensitise your dog. At the end of a long walk in the park, find a bench where she can see cars from a distance but is not showing signs of stress. When a car comes past, gain her attention with a treat and reward her with a pat when she reacts to you and not the cars. Over weeks, edge closer to the road, using your strongest bargaining tool to keep her attention. With patience, you should be able to walk along the road using treats to make the approach of a car a positive thing, as she will eventually relate it to getting a tasty morsel.
Q My cat Phoebe is quite lazy and has an excessive stomach sag. However, more unfathomable to me is her unwillingness to groom. This has been ongoing since she was a kitten.
A Why she refuses to self-groom may be an impossible question to answer. Grooming her yourself is truly the only way to limit the hair loss. Instead of a classic brush, try a rubber grooming tool with finger-like protrusions. This feels like a lovely stroke to the cat but can remove enough old fur to stuff a cushion.
Q My nine-month-old puppy is generally very obedient and good. However, when we are out a walk and she is off the lead and she sees another dog (near or in the distance), she automatically runs straight to the dog to play. No matter how many times I shout on her, she just ignores me and continues to play and it results in me having to go over to catch her and put her on her lead to bring her away. I have tried treats and praising her but nothing seems to work to make her come back to me. Please help as it is spoiling our walks.
A It is not surprising that a nine-month-old puppy still reacts this way, and playfulness is a far favourable reaction to other dogs than aggression or fear.
That said, I can fully relate to the embarrassment of having to extract a playful puppy from picnic situations in the park, so this all boils down to basic training and commonsense. Firstly, it is always best to walk your young dog thoroughly before letting her of the lead, burning off some of her excess energy and making her more biddable. Then choose a quiet spot in the park, teaching the basic lessons of sit, stay and come with rewards of treats and cuddles. This may be a good time to look into clicker training or the use of a whistle, which the dog relates to receiving a treat and will return to your side immediately when heard. Being vigilant is your best defence, replacing your dog on her lead or offering a treat to keep her attention on you when other dogs are around. But remember that playing with other dogs is a natural and healthy interaction, so consider finding a local dog walking group, as a once-daily social with other dogs is a good thing for your maturing dog to do.