Ball Python Shedding Predicament and Snacking on Bambi Burgers
Q: Oliver is a great dog most of the time. I live with my grandma who just can’t control him. I work nights, so she tries to take him for a walk, but he’s always pulling her, lunging ahead. Also, he sometimes barks when she takes him out. Is there a way to get him to behave for grandma. All he wants to do is to roughhouse. I hope you won’t say we have too big of a dog to handle. Can you help? G.O., Isanti, MN
A: “This is a common issue, and a fixable problem,” says esteemed veterinary behaviorist Dr. R. K. Anderson, director of the Center to Study Human/Animal Relationships and Environments at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Minneapolis. “We control horses – certainly larger than this dog – with a halter, so why not a head halter for dogs?”
There are several brands of halters used for dogs, and Anderson invented the first of these, called the Gentle Leader. “Also granny can use treats in her hand to motivate the dog to stay with her, but the Gentle Leader will give her control,” says Anderson. “I just received a letter from a grandmother using a walker who was able to walk her dog because she was using a Gentle Leader.” And at 85, Anderson can himself understand Granny issues.
Oliver might be a lot of dog for granny, but this can work. I suggest Grandma enlists hands-on help from a qualified dog trainer for further assistance.
Also, you can see how the Gentle Leader works watching video clips, and get lots of training tips from qualified experts on Anderson’s website: www.abrionline.org.
Q: I enjoy your column and your approach on many issues. I’d like to have my three-year old precious Ragdoll cat, Brownie, microchipped. My vet is the only vet in my area who uses anesthetic for this procedure. He’s says it’s inhumane not to. My friend says there’s no need for anesthetic to microchip. Who’s right? I want the best for Brownie. Is microchipping a good idea? L. T., Menasha, WI
A: Something doesn’t add up. I can’t imagine your veterinarian is unaware that microchipping is a simple injection to implant a microchip which looks like a grain of rice. Here’s conjecture from Chicago veterinarian Dr. Sheldon Rubin, “Perhaps, you misunderstand, and maybe your cat needs a dental or some procedure soon where anesthetic is required anyhow and the veterinarian figures that might be a good time to microchip. Certainly, though, anesthetic is not required. It takes a few seconds to implant a microchip, and it’s no more painful that your average vaccine. Another possibility is that your cat is fractious – very difficult to handle. But veterinarians know how to deal with that.”
As for whether microchipping is a good idea, Rubin doesn’t hesitate. “Absolutely, even indoor cats might get outside. And look at the disasters, like hurricanes and floods, and the pets who were most likely recovered were those that were microchipped. Microchipping is an insurance policy which I believe is a very good idea for cats as well as dogs.”
Q: My ball python is having problems shedding in one piece. I’ve tried misting to add humidity. Is there anything else I can do to help Henry? C. D., Henderson, NV
A: It’s awfully dry around the Las Vegas area, so even with added humidity – it’s apparently just not enough, according to Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald of Animal Planet’s Emergency Vets. He says one secret is to take a moistened terry cloth towel, and allow your snake to slither through it rubbing his shedding skin in the process.
Fitzgerald, who is in Denver, CO adds two more secrets of his trade. “Rub aloe on the snake just as shedding begins. Also, be sure there’s a rock or a brick in the enclosure for the snake to rub up against.”
Q: Our little mixed bred dog likes to eat looks pieces of frozen deer poo. How do we stop this? C. T., Jackson, MI
A: A backyard is not a babysitter. Dogs languishing in yards get bored, developing bad habits, like munching on Bambi burgers.
Of course, you can try keeping the deer away. But that’s easier said than done. Besides, I think there’s something very satisfying about seeing deer grazing in your yard. Peggy Moran, a dog trainer outside Chicago – where deer roam in yards – understands your problem. “Add vinegar to the piles of deer droppings,” she says. “Naturally, your dog will sniff and go ‘yuck.’ When he does, give him praise.”
Now, take him on a long leash, and when he expresses even the slightest interest in a pile without vinegar, toss a soda can with four pennies inside it in his direction. Please, please, don’t hit your dog with the can of pennies. Just have the can land close to him. It’s important your dog does not see you toss the can. He’ll think, ‘When I sniff at this stuff an awful noise drops from the sky.’
Repeat both the vinegar and the can tossing exercises several times. In addition offer other choices, giving him more appropriate choices for chewing outside, such as rawhide or a Booda bone. Or load kibble into a Buster Cube (a toy your dog can push around with his nose to make kibble tumble out).
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services