Mother Nature at Her Best - Part I (Photos)

4 Tips to Pet-Proof
Your Living Room
by Staff Writer -

The living room is most likely the spot in your home that your furry friend will be in the most, making it extra essential to pet proof the place. It’s easy to lock bedroom or bathroom doors when you’re not home, in order to keep pets out, but the living room doesn’t afford that luxury of seclusion. As the hub of the home, it holds everything from food, to electronics, to fabrics to important papers, all of which could quickly turn into rubbish at the jaws or claws of your pet, so take the proper precautions to protect these items (and your animal).

1. Stow Away Valuables

In a casual home, the typical living room is a place where you do everything from put down your keys, leave the mail, take off jewelry and do work. When leaving your pet at home alone, you have to make sure all of these items are out of the way, leaving no temptation for destruction. Place mail in a basket or box with a closing lid, to prevent pets from chewing through important bills or paperwork and obstructing you from reading the important information you’ve received via the mailman. Keys can also be a tempting toy for cats and dogs alike, so be sure to hang those high. And don’t get into the habit of taking off your earrings or watch and leaving them on the coffee table, lest you want them in your pet’s stomach.

2. Trim Down the Frills

Having pets will most likely cause you to simplify and modernize your design taste, cutting out overly rich fabrics and textures. Fine, dark wood can easily fall victim to cats’ claws and dogs’ paws, so metal legs and more simple materials might prove to be better options. Opt for couches in dark fabrics to mask the possible pet accident, and add the colors you prefer with pillows and throws instead. Avoid pillows with lots of tassels, as they can become magnets for the scratch-happy cat or chewing-obsessed dog.

3. Be Careful with Electronics

Pets often don’t understand that electrical cords and wires aren’t chew toys. Do your best to tuck stray wires under furniture, or keep them up high if at all possible. Tape cords down to prevent pets from getting caught in them and pulling down the valuable, heavy electronics they attach to. Don’t leave your computer out on the coffee table, or else you’ll risk it getting covered in dog slobber. Pet hair can also get trapped in the computer, creating unnecessary damage. And don’t you dare leave any full beverage cups out in the living room, as pets’ clumsiness can quickly knock them over and make a mess.

4. Provide Distractions for the Pets

One of the best ways to avoid the conundrums detailed so far is to give pets a space of their own in the living room. It might not get you in an interior decorating magazine, but leaving a basket of dogs’ toys out will keep them away from your belongings. Look for a scratching post for cats to keep them from shredding your furniture.

Can Pets Have Allergies?
Health Problems and Allergy

When many of us think of allergies, we, humans, are often the first thing that comes to mind. There are millions of Americans, alone, who suffer from allergies. These allergies may be due to food, mold, mildew, as well as the weather. Although humans are the most common sufferers of allergies, did you know that pets can also develop allergies? They can. In fact, dogs are the most common animals that suffer from allergies.

When it comes to determining if your dog or pet has allergies, many individuals do not know how to proceed. For starters, it is important to look for the symptoms . In fact, did you know that some pet allergy symptoms are similar to the ones that humans show? They are. One of the most commons signs that your pet may have an allergy is if they are constantly itching themselves. Another sign is that of skin irritation. With that being said, constant itching and skin irritation often go hand in hand.

Although it is relatively easy for some pet owners to determine if their pets are suffering from allergies, some are still unsure. If that describes you, you will want to seek medical attention for your dog, cat, or any other pet that may have allergies. A vet can do a number of tests, as well as examine your dog’s skin to determine if they are suffering from allergies. Before you take your dog to the vet, you are encouraged to write down any questions that you may have or anything that may have caused you concerned. For example, did your dog start itching after getting into some weeds your backyard? Did you just change their pet food or give them a new pet toy or a new pet bed? If so, your vet should know.

Another one of the many reasons why it is a good idea to take your dog or cat to the vet is because you will likely end up doing so anyways. Many humans are able to stop itching, even when the urge to do so seems uncontrollable. Pets on the other hand, aren’t always able to do so. If you notice that your dog is itching a specific area of their body for more than two or three days, a visit to the vet may be in order. The same should be said, if you notice a skin rash or any broken skin. If left untreated, your pet may develop an infection, which is actually much worse that just having allergies.

As for how your dog or cat can be treated if they do have allergies, it is best that you follow the advice of your vet. This is because some of the medications prescribed may be for animals only, but some may also be human medications. The only thing is that not all medications are ideal for dogs; therefore, it is important to follow the advice of your vet. As for treatment, many prescribe antibiotic and antifungal cream for rashes or infections that may have already developed on the skin. Other preventative steps will likely be taken. For example, if your dog is allergic to a specific weed in your backyard, you may need to remove it or keep your dog away from the area. Although the treatment offered is likely to vary, most options will immediately provide relief to pets that are suffering.

Socializing Adult Dog

Linaka - Member

I have a VERY sweet 4-yr-old whippet/shephard mix who has not been properly socialized with other dogs. At the park she behaves anywhere between scared and a bit hostile, and she barks incessantly. She is also very protective of me. How can I effectively socialize her so she can play with the other dogs? Are there too many dogs at the dog park? Is she overwhelmed? Thanks!

Marley -Member

Yes, I think she is overwhelmed. You may want to begin socializing her with dogs you already know, maybe 1 or 2 to begin start.

I would also avoid the park when there are a lot of dogs there, you may want to start when there are a couple.

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Mother Nature at Her Best - Part I
Thanks to Kathy in BHC, AZ

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Tips for Keeping Pets
Comfy in the Cold
Jill Rosen - Baltimore Sun

A cat sits next to a snowbank left by a snowplow December 20 in New York. Letting your senior kitty outside in the snow would be a no-no, according to DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images.

The recent near-blizzard was a good reminder that while some pets thrive in the snow and cold, others don't like it and can't handle it so well -- especially our older ones. has some tips on how to help a cat or dog who may be a little long in the tooth, better handle what winter brings:

* During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be hurt. Bang on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

*Never let your dog off-leash on snow or ice — dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season.

* Bring a towel on long walks to clean off irritated paws. After each snow walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet, legs and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals — and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.

*Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.

*Booties help minimize contact with painful salt crystals, poisonous anti-freeze and chemical ice-melting agents.

*Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts.

New Boutique's Selection of Pet Items
Could Make a Human Jealous
Rebecca LoganRebecca Logan -

Grab your Chewy Vuiton handbags because Woof Boutique & Barkery is finally open.

Don't have one to grab?

Never fear. Woof sells those toy handbags - as well as just about anything else you could possibly imagine buying for a dog.

I'm talking dog sweaters, hoodies, leashes, beds, blinged out collars, travel carriers, a vast array of baked goods, toys, goggles, shampoo, dresses, fur stoles, motorcycle jackets, plush houses and T-shirts featuring everything from kitschy slogans to college and political affiliations.

There's a smaller selection of cat items as well at Woof, which is at 4011 Sycamore Dairy Road inside the new Sycamore Station shopping center. (That's essentially across the street from CarMax.)

Now, this is not the first time Woof is getting an Off the Rack mention. The first was actually last May when Woof's owner, Kim Allison, told me she hoped to get a pet boutique open in the fall of 2009.

Obviously that was a bit optimistic, seeing how Woof's doors just opened Monday.

But although Allison said opening before Christmas would have been nice from a sales perspective, she wasn't about to rush things.

Allison spent a lot of time last year scouring the country for unique pet offerings. So I'm not surprised that she kept the paper on the windows until everything was precisely as she wanted it for Woof's big debut.

A chandelier hangs near the front door, and neutral color dog mannequins pop against a primarily pink decor. Specially ordered for the store, those mannequins range from greyhounds to dachshunds because Allison is determined to serve dogs of all sizes - including the big guys for whom there's often a limited selection elsewhere.

On the walls is art by Debby Carman, a Laguna Beach artist who specializes in whimsy critters. Woof is carrying some of Carman's dog dishes. Leashed and "well-behaved" pets are welcome for sizing in the store.

As I stood in Woof this week, inspecting the rainbow of apparel, I couldn't help thinking about readers who often tell me how they'd like to see more boutique clothing options in Fayetteville.

And I could almost imagine Woof evoking some envy among human shoppers.

Almost. It's all just too darn cute for any ill will.

There's more
Man, it must be nice to be a canine this month. Pet Starz Resort and Pet Spa also opened.

I'll be brief about this one, seeing how Pet Starz (at 5818 Ramsey St., just north of the Kinwood neighborhood) deals mainly with grooming, boarding, and doggie day care rather than shopping. But there is a little retail in there. Right now, there are mainly dog beds for sale, but owner Deborh Hoopes is thinking about adding some toys and holistic dog food to the mix.

Hoopes recently returned to Fayetteville to be with family after spending many years living in Los Angeles, where she ran a similar pet business. Before opening that, she worked in set design, which may help explain her appreciation for ambience.

The bright and colorful makeover Hoopes gave to the building hides any evidence that it was most recently a gym. In the sleeping quarters, Hoopes has even added a decorated fireplace mantel for an element of cozy.

Oh My!!

Tips for Photographing Your Pet

Photographing a pet will not be the same as humans or objects photographing that we can arrange or pose as you wish. It will require patience and readiness at all times to take lots of pictures at the right time. We should as much as possible for take pet picture with their natural characters at the great moment. So what other tips that we can do to get a good picture of our pet? Here are things we need to consider in photographing the pet.

Perform your pet photography in the room or outdoors but avoid from the direct sunlight because it will affect the natural color of your pet skin or fur. However, even in the room, we should try to stay with natural lighting, perhaps from the light coming from windows or doors. Utilization of natural light with the right angle to the position of our pet so we can get the natural colors of your pet. Get your pet's face position affected the perfect lighting, so get the right time to photograph it. But don't use the flash to avoid red eye and damage the natural pet colors. Besides it the use of flash will scared the pet.

Pet must be in a relaxed state without your rules that pressing them, better you go to them and not they come to us. Casual pet will easily shows their expression so that we can get their original characters. The good picture is the picture that can describe the real character of the pets.

Get a picture of your pet more closely with long lenses, because close-up images usually would be better results. As much as possible when photographing the pet eyes must be bright eyes, so that the pet expressions could expose well. The eyes are reflects the soul. You can lies close to your pet and take pictures from below or closer to his face. Let our pet express their face as he looked out the window of the world.

"Good luck"

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Dog Been Acting Strangely Lately?
It Might Have
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
By Daily Mail Reporter

Canine Compulsive Disorder: Some dog suffer with OCD just like humans

Dogs can suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder just like humans, scientists said yesterday.

They have identified a gene that makes the animals susceptible to OCD, or its equivalent - Canine Compulsive Disorder.

The researchers found that some dog breeds, particularly Dobermans and bull terriers, chase their tails, spin in circles and snap at imaginary flies in a compulsive way.

They hope the discovery of the gene responsible for this in dogs will also be located in human DNA.

It could then potentially be 'silenced' to stop the symptoms. The disorder affects about one in 50 humans and is characterised by time-consuming and repetitive behaviours and rituals.

Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Massachusetts said Dobermans with the gene were two and a half times more likely to exhibit compulsive behaviour. It was also significantly more prevalent in males.
Edward Ginns, director of medical genetics at University of Massachusetts Medical School, which assisted in the study, said: 'The more researchers know about a particular disorder, the better they are able to treat it. What we've found is that not every dog with this DNA change will get sick.

'It's the same in people. We can't label them as a baby that they'll develop a compulsive disorder. But it is more likely.' The gene targeted in the study exists in both dogs and humans, Dr Ginns said, and is responsible for developing communications between nerve cells in the brain.

Success in treating compulsive disorder in dogs with drugs such as Prozac also hinted at a connection between the disorder in humans and dogs. And there is the possibility that gene 'silencing' research being conducted at the medical school could be applied to OCD, said Dr Ginns.

Compulsive disorder runs in the family in humans. Someone whose brother, sister, mother or father has the condition is four to six times more likely to exhibit it.
Human research in this area has led scientists to discover genetic links among obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and even autism, according to Dennis Murphy, chief of clinical science at the National Institute for Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

The findings will help scientists looking for the gene in humans, by narrowing down where it is likely to be located in the millions upon millions of possibilities in human DNA.

The research is published in this month's edition of Nature Molecular Psychiatry.

Hint From Heloise
Washington Post

A Static Dog

Dear Heloise: During dry winter days in Texas, there's a lot of STATIC BUILDUP, particularly in our dog's fur. We have one of those lawns of native grass that dies back in the winter. Our dog, 90 pounds of love and adoration, takes great delight in rolling around on it. She gets covered with millions of pieces of dried grass. I've tried brushing it off, but that only causes more static.

One day, I got the idea to rub her down with a fabric-softener sheet. Not only does it whisk away the bits of grass, but if I rub her down really well -- rubbing against the grain of her fur -- she can remain static-free for several days. Another benefit is that she is perfumed. As a side note, though, I use a sheet that isn't too strongly scented. -- A Loyal Reader in the Hill Country, via e-mail

A double-duty hint! There shouldn't be a problem, but check with your pet's vet to be sure this is OK to do. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Phyllis Spyker of Harrisburg, Pa., sent a photo of Big Guy, a large, 3-year-old Siamese cat who climbed into the car seat with her 4-day-old great-grandson Matthew. Phyllis says: "Matthew was sleeping in his car seat, and Big Guy jumped in with him. Big Guy has been bonding with Matthew from the time he came home from the hospital. I thought the photo was cute and unusual." To see the car seat filled with Big Guy and Matthew, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: We had a terrible time giving our cat pills, and suffered many a scratched hand from her claws and teeth. She could spit out anything, and refused anything crushed in food or tuna juice. My daughter found an item at the pet store in which you put a pill at the end of the tube and put it in the back of the cat's mouth, press the plunger, and the pill goes down most of the time with no fuss at all. It is wonderful! The first time we tried it and it actually worked, we were shocked. -- Rae Ann, via e-mail

Giving cats pills can truly be a challenge! Thanks for reminding us about the cat pill-er! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I am a firm believer in recycling whenever possible. This is a hint I used to create a nice, comfy bed for our dog. I folded up a couple of old mattress pads to form the base of the bed. Then I sewed together two discarded bath towels -- sewing around just three sides. I slipped the mattress pads into the towel covering, and voila! A nice, comfy bed. The towel covering can easily be slipped off and thrown into the wash when it gets grimy. I have created two of these coverings so that I can have a fresh covering when the other one is in the wash. -- Ann, Pittsburg, N.H.

3 Tips to Pet-Proof
Your Bathroom
by Staff Writer -

If you’re lucky enough to be allowed a pet in your apartment, you’re going to have to take the steps necessary to properly pet proof the place. The bathroom is a key room to watch out for, as it’s full of items that pets could wreak havoc on, with a just of notch of curiosity and mischievous determination. Focus on storing items out of pets’ reach and eliminating unnecessary frills that will bate the chewing or scratch-happy pet.

1. Enclose Trash

Once your bathroom trash is in the can, you want it to stay there. Dogs and even cats don’t always feel that way. When they’re home alone, they’re looking for ways to keep themselves occupied, which often involves a good deal of rummaging and digging in places you don’t want them. To keep your furry friends from chewing and strewing dirty tissues or worse, moving them across the rest of the house, be sure to keep trash out of their reach.

Many pets can be deterred by a lid, so definitely look for a trash can with a top that closes, rather than the open, pail-style bathroom garbage can. Some animals are a bit more determined to get to your trash, though, so extra steps might be necessary. To combat the pet who seems willing to dig through anything, keep your bathroom trash in a bag and tie it away inside a cabinet.

2. Stow Away Chewables

When you’re away at work, many pets choose to express their loneliness and anxiety by chewing through belongings. This problem is ever worse in the bathroom, where chewed-up items can create an especially big mess or hazard. Keep tissues storing up high to where they can’t pull them apart. For cats who climb over counters and high surfaces, this might mean stowing them away in cabinets or keeping them enclosed containers.

Don’t leave anything out that could create a poisonous hazard if tapped into by your furry companion. Pets can also chew through plastic bottles to get through lotions and other toiletries, so be sure to keep those out of their reach as well. Many apartments come with built-in with toilet paper holders that are low enough for pets a get hold of. You may want to install a toilet paper holder high enough that pets can’t get to it and unravel the roll across your entire room.

3. Choose Carpets Properly

Many choose the bathroom to test out colors that they wouldn’t be able to use anywhere else in their homes, especially as far as bathroom rugs go. If you’re a pet owner, this freedom might be curtailed when choosing the fabrics to go in your bathrooms. Pets can track in additional dirt, grime and bodily substances, so a light or white bathroom rug definitely isn’t your best bet. To keep the room from showing unnecessary dirt and grime related, choose rugs in dark, solid colors. For dogs that like to chew and cats that like to scratch, avoid overly frilly rugs, unless you want their contents strewn across the bathroom floor.

Air Travel and Pets

Do you have to travel by air in the near future? If you do, are you a pet owner who needs to bring your pet along with you? Although most of us leave our pets at home, you may not want to do so or your purpose for travel may be to move, as opposed to taking a fun filled vacation. Regardless of your reasons for wanting or needing to travel with your pet or pets, there are a number of important points that you will need to keep in mind.

The first step in traveling with a pet is to make sure that you can do so. Although a good number of airlines will allow pets on their planes, not all will. You may be in a predicament if you plan to depart from a small airport with only one or two airlines. If they do not accept pets or if their rules and restrictions are too much for you to handle, you will want to examine other nearby airports, especially those that are larger in size.

When traveling by air with your pet or pets, it is important to remember that you will be charged an additional fee. Unfortunately, many first time pet travelers believe that they can use their pets and their pet carriers to count towards as a carry-on bag or a checked bag. This isn’t how it works though. You will, almost always, be charged an extra fee for traveling with a pet. This extra fee will likely depend on the airline in question and well as your pet’s location, such as in the cabin or in the baggage compartment.

That leads to another important point. Even with some of the airlines that allow pets, like cats and dogs, aboard their flights, not all allow pets to be in the cabin with other passengers. This is particularly common on small planes where allergies may be a big concern. If you cannot part with your pet, be sure to search for an airline that will allow you to keep him or her in the cabin with you. With that said, remember that the size of your pet will also play a huge factor in your options.

Regardless of where your pet is stored for the plane ride, you will need to have a pet carrier or crate for them. Many airlines have specific rules and restrictions on what type can be used. Resections often include materials used, as well as size. Most will provide you with that information when asked. Speaking of pet crates and carriers, it is important to make sure that you give your pet enough room to stand and move around a little bit. In fact, most airlines will refuse to transport pets that they feel are unsafe from small pet crates and carriers.

It is also important to make sure that you get your pet checked by their vet. You will want to make sure that your pet has all required vaccinations and that they are fit for travel. Also, all airlines require that you receive a health certificate, which will state that your pet is healthy and safe for travel.

The above mentioned points are just a few of the many that you will want to take into consideration when traveling with a pet. Added tips include booking direct flights, making sure your pet’s collar is marked with the proper identification, as well as their pet carrier.

Sneezy Cat Can't Kick the Habit
By Dr. Michael Fox -

DEAR DR. FOX: I have a healthy, 10-month-old domestic shorthair cat that eats well, has a shiny coat, and is active. He has no fever, but sneezes repeatedly. In the morning, when he sneezes, there is yellow mucus. His left eye drains, but otherwise looks normal.

I had our vet examine him three times. The first time, he was given an antibiotic injection with Clavamox at home and Terramycin eye ointment for eye drainage. The next two visits, he received Clavamox and Terramycin again. After each course of Clavamox, he improved, but the sneezing and eye drainage returned.

I have had cats for 45 years and never had this problem with any of them. I have two older cats who have not caught this from him. He was born in a friend's yard and stayed with his mom for eight weeks.

Since traditional methods have not been effective, what herbal products would you recommend?

K.L., Virginia Beach, Va.

DEAR K.L.: Your cat's malady is common in the feline population today. Some experts believe the condition is symptomatic of an impaired immune system that could be caused by adverse vaccination reactions or any number of household chemicals, especially artificial scents in cleaning products, laundry detergents and even cat litter. Get rid of these as best you can, and check my Web site for various treatment regimens aimed at subduing the inflammatory response. Treatment with steroids would subdue the latter, but further impair the immune system. Many cats show improvement with fish-oil supplements, mild herbal inhalants ( and transitioning onto a natural, even raw food diet. For details, go to

DEAR DR. FOX: My 15-year-old black cat Shadow was recently diagnosed with a mass in his right ear. He has had two or three infections in the same ear, and the ear has bled occasionally when the vet cleans it.

We've cleared up the latest infection, but the mass remains. The vet thinks Shadow needs surgery immediately to remove the mass and possibly the entire ear canal if the mass is malignant. Do you agree?

The mass is up against cartilage, so the vet feels the cancer — if malignant — will probably spread and that surgery would be helpful. But what I've read on the Internet indicates a less optimistic prognosis, even with the surgery.

N.W., Rockville, Md.

DEAR N.W.: It is normal protocol to take a biopsy to determine the kind of growth prior to surgery. With some malignancies, surgery simply makes matters worse, further impairing the patient's immune system and facilitating the multiplication of cancerous cells not removed from the afflicted area and any that may have already spread to other parts of the body.

All good surgeons think with the heart before the knife. What are the consequences of radical ear surgery (that will be slow to heal and painful) on the cat's quality of life and life expectancy? Your cat is old, and comfort is the first priority. Without a biopsy, it's anyone's guess. But, considering your cat's age, I would not opt for surgery. Because of the cat's age, local and systemic (oral) anti-inflammatory supplements and antioxidants would be my choice if this were my cat, even if the biopsy indicated a cancer instead of an eosinophilic granuloma or other nonmalignant growth.

DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 3-year-old female chow mix whom I got from an animal shelter when she was 1 year old. She has a chronic colitis condition. As a result, my veterinarian put her on prescription dog food (Iams) and a probiotic (Proviable capsules) that she takes once a day. If she experiences a diarrhea attack, she gets Proviable-DC paste.

Since she has been on the Proviable for more than a year, she seems to have developed a tolerance to the paste. I find that when she gets diarrhea, the paste doesn't work as well as it used to. After she has finished the paste and still has the problem, I give Iams Prostora Max, which does take care of the problem. The probiotic is a one-week regimen. During this time, she doesn't get the Proviable.

Before Proviable, I would give her Imodium when she had an attack. This never worked too well. Do you have a suggestion?

A.R., Gaithersburg, Md.

DEAR A.R.: Inflammatory, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and other digestive-tract disorders are all too common in dogs, cats and humans. The are many causes, notably the high-gluten content of most manufactured foods; the high-temperature food processing that causes a loss of nutrients; low- or poor-quality fiber content essential for intestinal health; and the health of beneficial gut bacteria. Herbicide residues and foreign proteins, especially from genetically engineered corn and soy ingredients, may harm these bacteria, which play a vital role in food digestion and immune-system functions.

There are other sources of probiotics (capsules or pills), containing beneficial bacteria that you should try along with so-called "prebiotics," such as chicory and inulin (not insulin), which provide nutrients for these bacteria. Supplements such as aloe-vera juice, psyllium husks, ginger (in mild cases), licorice, fish oil and L-glutamine may also prove beneficial.

Transitioning onto a home-prepared diet based on a single animal protein (duck, venison, fish) with potato or quinoa may be advisable, coupled with multimineral supplements. (See my Web site for listings of pet-food companies that provide good diets for both dogs and cats.)

Send your questions to Dr. Michael Fox c/o United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox's Web site at

Cathy M. Rosenthal:
Dog Doesn't Listen?

Cathy Rosenthal Letters about "stubborn dogs" that don't seem to listen flood my e-mail. Margie G. says, "Whenever we go for walks, I say my dog's name, but she doesn't turn her head to look at me."

Gina says she must ask her dog to "sit" several times before her dog will even think about complying. "What am I doing wrong and how can I get Allie to sit on the first request?"

R. Rogers says that his dog responds to the stay command, but only for a second. "As soon as I turn my head, my dog is up and about again."

Does this sound like your dog?

While the desire to please varies among breeds, most of the problem is not with a "stubborn dog" but with a pet owner who might foster indifference with less-than-assertive tones and a failure to see the command followed through on the first request.

For example, the other day, I witnessed a friend asking her dog to "sit," except she said, "You are getting underfoot, Buttons; either go away or sit." Of course, Buttons did neither because Buttons didn't hear a clear request. My friend returned to her cooking.

A few minutes later, Buttons was underfoot again. This time, she said, "I thought I asked you to go away. All right, sit. Sit, Buttons. Sit. I said sit."

Buttons started to "sit," but then my friend turned her back again before Buttons obeyed the less-than-clear request. Did she want Buttons to go away or sit? I wasn't even sure what Buttons should do at this point. Buttons looked bewildered.

Dogs that ignore commands have either learned not to comply on the first request or can't figure out the request because their pet owner is not clear.

As with any learned behavior, repetition is key — but only with the number of times you practice and succeed, not the number of times you say "sit" in one request.

What should my friend, as well as Gina and R. Rogers, have done? All should have said "sit" or "stay" once in a confident tone and then gently helped their dogs to comply by moving a treat over their head or down to the floor to get them to sit or stay.

As soon as their dog complies, they should acknowledge the obedient behavior with a "good dog" response or treat. They should never turn their backs until their dogs have complied with the request. And all requests should be concise and easy to understand.

As for Margie G., she needs to walk her dog, call her dog's name once and give her a treat only when she turns her head to respond. If she doesn't turn her head, then stop walking and stand without saying a word until she turns her head to see what's going on. Then say, "good dog," give a treat and walk again.

Repeat this process during the walk. Once the dog knows there are treats, she will turn her head every time you say her name. Eventually, this behavior will become ingrained and you won't need treats to get the desired results.

Dogs listen best to pet owners who know how to communicate with dogs.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or e-mail them to Cathy's advice column runs every Sunday. You can read her blog, Animals Matter, at

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