Your Questions…answered



“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.” — Og Mandino

border collie 3

Have a question about your dog?  All questions welcome–we’ll answer them here, so check back often for updates!

Andrea, from PA asks:  
      My dog is a 3 year old dalmation mix.  I adopted her from a shelter about a month ago.  She’s a great dog, very loving and gentle, but she seem afraid of everything.  I have tried to tell her she has nothing to be afraid of and I hold her close when she is scared, but she seems to be getting worse.  I’m afraid she might bite someone.  It’s embarrassing when she runs away from visitors but I can’t seem to convince her they won’t hurt her.  I feel so sorry for her.  Is she just permanently damaged?

ANSWER:  Please don’t give up, your dog is showing very normal behavior for a dog that has probably been through a lot, especially since you have only had her a month.  I am guessing that when you try to comfort her, she is reacting with more fear.  Dogs will take their direction from their people.  If you are afraid, she feels that there must be something to fear. Many people react to the dog’s fear by sympathizing; but that will only make it worse.  If you are coddling her in an effort to soothe her fear, you are telling her that you understand her fear.  You actually want to convey to her that you are not afraid and that there is nothing to fear.  Be confident.  Act as if she is not afraid.  Ignore her fear reactions and replace your response with more confidence.  You might try giving her an obedience command to distract her.  “Pup, sit” and then expect her to do it.  When she does, reward her with a calm pet and “good dog.”  You might even offer her a treat.  It’s all about her focusing on you, rather than the fear.  Continue training her new commands.  Add in some helpful tricks.  Obedience training is a great confidence builder and can help build trust between you and your dog.  Keep in mind that she probably has three years of fear built up; you have only had her for a month.  With patience and training, she will develop into a trusting dog.  Please write back and let us know how she is progressing!

Jack from Indiana asks: My dog is a 7 year old Golden Retriever.  I’d like to bring a puppy or younger dog into our family, but am not sure how he will react, since he has always been an only dog.  He does ok with the neighbor’s dog, but I’m not sure if it’s fair to him to ask him to share his home at his age.  Should we wait?

Answer:  Most Golden Retrievers are very amiable and accepting of other dogs.  It sounds like your dog is one of these, since he gets along with the neighbor dog.  7 is actually a very good age to bring another dog in; he’s mature enough to help train a youngster.  Look for a dog that is a good fit for your home and family, including your Golden.  If your Golden likes to play, a playful pup might be welcome.  If he is a more calm, gentleman, he might be annoyed by a highly energized pup that is always trying to play.  It’s very important that the new dog accept your Golden as the leader from the start.  You need to give attention to both dogs, but try to establish the Golden as higher in rank.  Eventually, those roles might switch around, but a young dog needs to know his order in the pack and the older dog should be higher ranking.  It will help with training and keeping peace between them.  That can be tough to explain to children, but it is essential to keep a happy home with a new pup.  If the pup always comes first, if he gets the treats and petting first, and if he is allowed to push the older dog around, it can cause him to develop behaviors that you will then need to break.  It’s best to start out right from the start.  This applies even if the new dog is not a new pup; regardless of age, he is the newcomer and needs to start with respect for the family members, including your Golden.  Handled correctly, a second dog can be a great addition to your family!  Please write back when you get your new dog–I’d like to know how it works out!
golden retrieer with book 2

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