Dear Dog Lady,
I have a 4-month-old Shih Tzu. The problem I'm having with him is that he chews on everything. My main concern is that he chews on electric cords, including my computer cord and other cords. I try to keep cords away from him, but when I'm not around he gets to the TV and cable cords. When I catch him, I tell him “no” and I tap him with paper. Please tell me what can I do to stop him from gnawing on these cords.
Ms. Lady T
A: Your 4-month-old puppy is totally clueless. With such a naïve, fragile being under your roof, you have to be responsible and think for the dog. Crunchy cords taste like chicken to a puppy. You must keep him away from anything capable of electrocuting, strangling, suffocating, poisoning and otherwise harming him, as well as anything you don't want him to gnaw on. Got it? Also, invest in some suitable dog chews (indestructible rubber toys, for example). When you catch your pup mangling shoes, belts, pillows, electrical wires, anything at all really, offer an alternative instead of tapping him with paper, which is mean and lazy.
From your letter, you sound as if you’ve never had a dog. The paper swatting gives you away. Please, do your research. Get a crate (politically correct word for cage) and read about crate training. (There’s an article on the topic posted on askdoglady.com if you search for it.) You need to keep your puppy contained so you can train him properly. Also, you have to trust this guy fully before you let him roam out freely in the land of the giants.
It’s a start to write “Ask Dog Lady,” but, please, read much more about dogs and their training.
Dear Dog Lady,
I have a rescue dog, Millie, and she won’t take a treat from my hand. She will eat one off of my shoe, my knee, the floor or anyplace else, but she won’t accept a treat when offered directly by me. Do you think she fears human hands because of a traumatic experience? What should I do to make things easier for her? Or does this matter?
A: Chances are good Millie was dealt a bad hand somewhere along the line. You might never erase the sting, but you can try. For one thing, when facing her, don’t hold your hands up in a threatening manner. Accepting your hands strengthens the bond between you and your dog. Your mitts should be Millie’s link to you. When we communicate with our pet, we offer signs through our hands to sit, stay, roll over and drop it.
A certified dog behaviorist might have more pointers on how your spooked dog can make friends with your hands, but here’s a strategy to start with: Your hands must become the bearer of all good things for your dog. Make sure your hand movements are always smooth and nonthreatening. When you go to pet your dog, do not dive bomb from above, but scoop sideways, stroking the chest area between the two front legs. Of course, a belly rub never hurts either.
Monica Collins offers advice on pets, life and love. Ask a question or make a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.