Dog Reader Questions Answered at Westminster Dog Show


Q: My 4-year-old Red-boned Coonhound has been obedience trained; we’ve done everything we can to train him off-leash. However, he still breaks free from his lead, leaves the yard and runs off, returning half an hour later. We’ve never had a dog behave this way before. What’s your solution? — G.D., Angola, NY

A: Pet writer Kim Campbell Thornton suggests: “Work with a good trainer on teaching a reliable ‘come.'”

Thornton, author of “Careers with Dogs” (BowTie Press, Irvine, CA, 2010; $24.94), adds, “Perhaps this dog isn’t returning, or you’re not there to call the dog. It doesn’t really matter. You have a hound dog that is ruled by his nose.”

Charlene LaBelle, author of “A Guide to Backpacking with Your Dog” (Apline/Blue Ribbon, Crawford, CO, 2004; $12.95), agrees. “A hound’s instinct is to run, and you know that’s the case with your dog,” she notes. “So, be sure that your dog is wearing an ID tag and is microchipped. The reality, which you may not like, is that leash equals love.”

Also, make sure that in addition to a dog tag and microchipping, you register with the microchip provider. You indicated that your dog breaks free from his lead. If you literally mean he regularly breaks from his leash or harness, you need to fit him with another. This problem shouldn’t happen repeatedly.


Q: This spring, my son and his family (including children ages 4, 6 and six months and their dog) will be moving in with me and my two male dogs. One of my dogs, a miniature Dachshund, is not happy with their dog, and bit his leg, though there was no blood. I’m also worried about the Dashshund’s jumping and nipping at the grandchildren. We need some ideas before this living arrangement becomes permanent. Can you help? — R.H., Cyberspace

A: “Oh, my,” begins dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, host of “It’s Me or the Dog” on Animal Planet. “Let’s try to set up the dogs for success. That may be difficult if the dogs, including the Dachshund, are not particularly social toward other dogs. Give them lots of opportunities to get to know one another outside the home where there’s more space, there are more distractions, and they’re having fun. There are also no potential territoriality issues. My hope is that all the dogs are also spayed or neutered.”

Stilwell adds, “I worry about (the dog who is) jumping and scaring the child. Is this dog really being aggressive, or just doesn’t have good manners? If the child becomes scared, which I’d expect, the behavior may worsen. And what about when the baby begins to crawl?”

You’re smart to try to be pre-emptive and to see the situation for what it is. Now is the time to bring in qualified help — a veterinary behaviorist or certified dog behavior consultant — to assess the situation. Also, if Dachshund’s behavior seems uncharacteristic, a veterinary exam is a wise idea.

©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services