SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 18, 2013

Ask Dog Lady: Puppy loves people, but not other dogs

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

My dog Gigi is a shih tzu-poodle mix. She’s 1 year old and is the most loving, gentle, playful puppy ever. She is very attached to my fiance, my son and myself. She is very people-friendly. Our only problem is she can’t stand other dogs. She refuses even to face them. For example, my niece brought her Yorkshire terrier, Pixie, over the other day. Gigi was so upset that she went into her cage and faced the corner, growling quietly until we put Pixie back into her own carrier. Pixie is ever so sweet. I don’t understand why Gigi didn’t want to play with her. Do you have a clue?

A: Pixie may be as cute as a button, but Gigi sees her as the 10-ton gorilla in the room. Dogs don’t always show hospitality to dogs that trespass on their turf. You should have introduced Gigi and Pixie outdoors on neutral territory, with both dogs on leashes, or in an area where they could run free together.

After a lot of exposure outdoors, your dog might tolerate another one indoors, but don’t expect miracles — unless you are prepared to socialize your dog. This means introducing Gigi to canine society on walks and in outdoor areas such as dog parks where she can sniff and be sniffed by other dogs. She needs to develop a healthy regard for her own species. Such fraternization will keep her sane and content because, ultimately, dogs may be man’s best friends, but they need to touch noses and sniff rumps with four-legged kith and kin.

Dear Dog Lady,

Buffy was a pup when we got her from the Animal Rescue League in New Mexico. When we saw her, we just fell in love with her. She was so tiny and everyone thought she was a Yorkshire terrier. As it turned out, she’s a terrier mix and weighs 45 to 50 pounds. When she was a pup, she was very friendly and loved people. She would play and jump and let anyone hold or pet her.

Since we moved back up to New England, her personality has changed. She has become a nipper and growls at visitors to our home. She will let someone hand-feed her snacks, but no one can pet her. Any idea as to why this is happening? We’ve been back here for nearly eight years now, and this behavior has slowly gotten worse. To me, she’s being protective. Am I wrong?

A: Like people, dogs change as they age. Some become grumpy; others grow mellow. Buffy might have a case of the grumpies. Do you give her enough vampires to slay? Walk her daily. You must exercise Buffy, because dogs resolve an abundance of issues with vigorous workouts.

If Buffy accepts food hand-outs without nipping, your terrier mix has a hungry heart and a trusting inclination. Advise potential petters to ignore her. If they insist, they can paw her gently by approaching her from underneath and stroking her breast bone-area instead of dive-bombing from above.

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