SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 15, 2013

Reader takes issue with advice on clothing for dogs

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Q: I disagree with your recent column saying you don’t believe in clothing for dogs.

My boxer NEEDS an added layer of protection in harsh weather where temperatures can get as low as minus 10 degrees. My collie NEEDS to wear boots on his feet so that his pads aren’t ripped up by salt and jagged ice. He also needs them because prior to me rescuing him, he was kept in a cage for five years. He has NO muscle in his legs, and when his feet freeze to the ground, he falls down because he doesn’t have the strength in his legs to hold himself up in those harsh temps.

Apparently, you’ve never witnessed a dog literally become frozen in place because there is pain shooting through their legs due to inclement weather. Find a new day job before someone’s pet ends up injured due to your ridiculous advice.

A: Whatever humane treatment your dog needs, your dog should have. If you want to dress your pet in winter coats because of your pet’s special needs, just do it. Do what you think is best, which is the right, privilege and responsibility of every dog owner.

Q: We have two senior pet therapy greyhounds, one male and one female. Lately, they have begun to howl in our home. They are only outdoors with us and with a collar and lead for their protection. We walk them six to seven times daily. We previously have had five other rescue seniors, one or two at a time who never even barked, let alone howling.

A: Howling is one of those atavistic wolfish things dogs do that could mean they are happy or sad or mad or hungry or excited or ... Get it? We don’t really know why dogs howl. But if you become mindful about what triggers the wails, you might be able to figure it out. Is it when they come in from the cold? Or when you do? Or when the feed bag comes out? Pay attention as your dogs speak to you.

Q: I have an 11-month-old, very large, 80-pound puppy that I adopted from a shelter when he was 6 months old. He is super-sweet but insists on licking nonstop. He licks clothes, people, hands, furniture, anything. I am pretty sure it is an attention thing, but “no lick” only works when he is not excited. I am not sure what to do to make him stop licking everything and everyone! Any suggestions?

A: Lots of dogs can’t hold their licker. And Dog Lady often expounds on licking as loving. Your pound puppy laps up your scents and leaves her mark behind. Better than biting, better than peeing or something yuckier. Here’s the bottom line: “No lick” doesn’t quite cut it. You’ve got to offer a bigger alternative — a powerful diversion such as a bully stick or a squeaky toy when the lapping becomes unbearable. Over time and with your constant intervention, the licking should lessen, but the behavior will never go away completely.

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Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook or Twitter at @askdoglady. Email questions to askdoglady@gmail.com.