Advertisement

My Pet World: Dog's barking game is getting old

December 06, 2011|By Steve Dale

Question: My dog has trained me very well. Recently, Lady began to bark at the door for no apparent reason. Each time, I get up and go to the door, thinking there's some reason for her agitation. Now, I feel like a jumping bean. I think Lady barks just to see me go to the door; it's a game. I could just ignore the barking, but what if someone really is at the door? Any advice? —B.T., Tacoma, Wash.

Answer: "I can see where this can happen; it's happened to me," says dog trainer Cheryl Smith, author of "Grab Life by the Leash: A Guide to Bringing Up and Bonding with Your Four-Legged Friend" (Wiley Publishing, New York, NY, 2008; $21.99). "Joe Cool would bark like crazy. Instead of hollering at him, I told him calmly that he didn't have to worry."

Smith continues, "It took several months, but I trained him to come to me whenever he saw someone out the window who concerned him. To get to this point, whenever he even looked at me, I'd shovel treats into his mouth. Then, I gradually moved the cookie machine farther and farther away from the window."

Advertisement

Smith, a trainer, understands the importance of good timing, and says to be careful not to reward your dog for barking. Also, when you offer treats during the day, feed your pet less food at night.

"There's one more idea that really will work: Ignore your dog," Smith suggests. "If you're concerned about someone really being at the door who doesn't belong, set up a motion detector at the door (available online and at some big-box stores) to alert you."

Q: We have two cats, ages 12 and 14. We put their two litter boxes in our carpeted basement. Until recently, we had no problems. A few months ago, I found a stool pile next to one box. I recalled reading that there should be one more litter box than the number of cats, so I added a box. A few weeks later, the same thing happened again. I know keeping litter boxes clean is important, and I scoop daily. What's going on? — D.S., Manash, Wis.

A: When a cat goes outside its litter box, but near the box, cat behavior consultant Pam Johnson-Bennett, of Nashville, says there is a reason. "Most likely, there's something offensive about the box itself, or maybe the litter. Often, this really does mean the box isn't clean enough."

Any time there's a change in a pet's behavior, see your veterinarian. Indeed, there are a myriad of physical explanations for your cat's actions. Of course, it would be hugely helpful to know which cat is going outside the box!

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|