This week we'll take up issues from the mailbag.
READER: "My dog Bear is one year old. He goes upstairs when I am downstairs and pees on the bed. He has done this three times. Can you help me?"
DAVIS: I've written more columns on housebreaking and marking problems than any other behavior issue because it is the reason so many dogs lose their homes.
Bear is displaying dominance marking, but putting a label on his behavior doesn't mean that it comes with a one-size-fits-all solution for correcting it.
Like most behavior problems in dogs, the key to stopping it is finding the origin of the behavior.
Is this dog neutered? Is this a new behavior? Does he sleep on the bed? Does he mark in any other areas? Is he an only dog? How does he act in the presence of other dogs? Does he have any other behavior problems? Has the owner done any formal training with the dog to define rules and boundaries for his behavior? Has the owner ever punished the dog for housebreaking mistakes? Has the dog ever growled or snapped at the owner? Anyone?
Most problem-solving involves questioning the owners, observing the dog and determining if it is a canine or human problem. Once you have all that information, you are able to use your knowledge and experience to formulate a behavior-modification program for the owner to follow.
Without some facts about this dog's history, behavior and the owner-dog relationship, I can't crack this case.
READER: "My family will be adopting a bloodhound puppy in January. It's been almost 20 years since I had a puppy and I want to make sure we do it right. (Our last few dogs have been older rescues and brought along some bad habits that we don't want to repeat.) Do you have a book you would recommend? Crating is a new concept to me, and I'm not sure it's something I want to do with my dog, but maybe it has its benefits for potty training, etc? Also anything specific you would recommend for the breed?"
DAVIS: Congratulations on your new family member. I swear by crate training for puppies. Used correctly, a crate will speed-up the housebreaking process as well as prevent your furniture from being destroyed. It is also a safe place for your puppy to rest and have some alone time when you can't be watching over it, but that said, crate confinement must be balanced with adequate exercise and one-on-one interaction with the owner.
Rather than wasting money on worthless cookie-cutter breed books, I would suggest you contact the American Bloodhound Club, which is a national breed organization, to obtain their recommended reading list of books on the breed. And even if you have no plans to show your dog, joining your breed's national club will allow you to obtain knowledge about Bloodhound health concerns, grooming and behavior from experienced experts.
I read lots of dog books, but only a few ever earn permanent spots on my bookshelf. Here are a few keepers:
* "The Complete Dog Book," official publication of The American Kennel Club.
* "Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog, The Classic Study," by John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller.
* "Another Piece of The Puzzle: Puppy Development," by Pat Hastings and Erin Ann Rouse.
This is a great breed, but early socialization and training are a must!
About a month ago, a reader contacted me about his dog's loss of appetite and sluggish behavior, which had been going on for two weeks. Without hesitation, I advised him to take his dog to the vet, and the results of that visit should serve as a cautionary reminder to all dog owners.
A body panel revealed high liver enzymes, and it was discovered to the owner's horror that this was caused by the Tylenol tablets that he had given the dog over a four-day period in August for pain in its hip.
The dog was placed on medication for its liver, and given antibiotics and a prescription diet, and went home with a very guilty and upset owner who asked me to warn readers to NEVER give human medications to dogs.
Pet Photos with Santa will be hosted by Tractor Supply Company from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at 2749 Calloway Drive, Suite 560, Bakersfield, Ca. 93312. HALT and other rescues will have adoptable dogs on site for this event.
Donations will be used to purchase a pallet of food for the HALT Rescue dogs (they need another $400 to reach their holiday goal.)
-- Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @csi4K9s. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.