Archive for August, 2009

Barking Dogs
August 31, 2009

Dear Liz,

I know you’re a dog expert and not a marriage counselor, but my wife and I need your help.  We’re at odds about what to do over a neighbor’s dog who barks all the time… is left outside all the time, etc.  Its borderline abusive, but neither of us know how to handle and we end up arguing about it?


No more puppy love!

Dear Puppy;

Well, hopefully I can at least shed some light on what to do!  You’re right with the abuse, but it’s not a borderline.

Connecticut General Statues says that a dog is not to be tied, tethered or kenneled 24/7.  It’s a new law that has come into play within the past few years and it’s a good one.  So in that instance, the dog is being abused (or better put, neglected).  You are right to be concerned on this one.

Now the dog is also barking all the time which is another issue you’ve brought up.  That, in itself, is also a violation of Connecticut General Statue.  It falls under the Nuisance Dog law, which states that a dog is not to be allowed to bark excessively.

It sounds like a call to your town’s animal control officer is needed, first to assess whether or not the dog is being neglected or in physical danger, and second to address the issue of the barking.  The animal control officer can take the appropriate action to ensure the problem is solved.  In most towns, you can place a call and say that you’d like to remain anonymous if you feel it would cause a problem with your neighbor.  Advise the police dispatcher or the animal control officer that you’d rather not have your neighbor know it was you that called and they should honor your wishes.

If your animal control officer does take action but the problem persists, you might have to call again until things are resolved.

Another way to deal with it, if you’re friendly with your neighbor, is to bring up the dog in casual conversation.  Ask the neighbor how the dog is, etc., and see how the neighbor reacts.  If it’s a negative reaction (as in “That dog is going to drive me crazy – it just barks and wrecks the house…”) see if you can offer to help place the dog or refer the owner for help.  It depends on how involved you really want to get with the situation.

In either case, involvement is obviously needed here.  The dog’s barking will not stop until someone brings attention to the issue and gets it solved.  Until this problem is resolved, no one (you, your wife, the neighborhood and the dog) will be happy.


Disaster Planning
August 22, 2009

Dear Liz,

The swirling graphics of hurricanes are on your weather maps more and more.   In case the big one hits CT, any advice for emergency pet planning?



Dear Toto;  Yep, the hurricane season is upon us and it looks like Bill is making a b-line for us as well!  As with any potential disaster, being prepared is the best defense.  I’ve always recommended putting a disaster kit together – not only for yourself, but for your pets as well.

First, get a waterproof, Tupperwear type of container and with permanent marker, put “PET BOX” on it (or something like that).  Make sure it includes a jug of water, some dry food (or wet food but keep a can opener in there, too), bowls, cat litter and a cat pan (for cats), any medications your pet is on, a picture of your pet with it’s name, your name and your cell phone number on the back, a leash or pet carrier (mark the pet carrier with your name, address and cell phone number on it), veterinary records showing current vaccinations and anything else you think your pet might need. Use your cell phone number as you won’t have your home phone with you if you have to evacuate!  Make sure your pet has a collar on with a current Rabies tag attached to it.  Also, take permanent marker and write your cell number, including area code, on the actual collar. That way, if you do get separated, you can be assured someone will have your number to call.

Planning ahead for disasters is so vital to making sure you and your pets are safe.  Make sure you have a place to go that will accept pets.  Many shelters don’t.  And let someone know where you’re going.  Hotels that accept pets can be found on line – and make sure you pick a few in different directions.  That way, if a storm hits where you were planning on going, you have a “Plan B” in place.

Any way you cut it, being prepared for possible issues is the best way to keep everyone safe.

School Stress
August 14, 2009

Dear Liz,

When our son ended school in June with great grades… We got him a dog.  The two have played together non-stop – all summer.  I’m worried about what will happen when school starts and Smokey will be home alone.


Home Alone

Dear Home Alone;

This is a question that comes around every August.  The first thing to remember is that your dog will be going through a huge change when everyone leaves for school.  This change in routine can really rattle your pooch so I’ve got a few tips to hopefully help out.

First, and this is according to Bark Busters, a dog training company, start to back off on the attention you’ve been giving your dog.  If you’ve been bringing him for car rides while you do your errands, etc., stop.  This will, according to them, help your dog wind down and not become so stressed when you leave.  The idea is to get your dog used to being alone more and being comfortable with it. Make sure to reward him when you get back and the house is still standing, though!  This will reinforce the fact that everything’s ok and he’s a great dog (for not tearing the house up in a hissy fit!).

And why not, while you’re shopping for the kids, get your dog a back to school treat!  A new toy, a new bed – something to show him that you still love him!  After all, he IS part of the family!

If your dog starts in with some separation anxiety, this is also normal.  He’s used to you being there all the time.  Start backing down on the attention a few weeks before school starts to get him used to is slowly.

Other suggestions I can think of is to start getting into a “school routine”.  Along with having the kids more ready, it helps your dog be more ready as well.  Start with getting the kids up on a regular schedule, as if it’s school time.  Start, too, getting the dog into his school routine.  Dogs love consistency.  They thrive on a routine and summer vacation can be a time where there is no consistent schedule.

Take him on a walk first thing in the morning and when the kids get home.  Everyone knows that exercise is a great way to burn off stress and this is true for the family dog as well.

Going back to school can be stressful for the kids and you as well.  The more stress you have, the more your dog will pick up on it and feel that something’s wrong.  This will eventually subside as things get back into a daily routine but for the first week or so it might be an issue.  But do know that this, too, shall pass!

DNA Testing
August 7, 2009

Dear Liz;

I just adopted a mixed breed puppy from a litter of puppies.  My question is this – How do I know what breeds my puppy is?  None of the puppies in the litter looked alike!


Wondering in Woodstock

Dear Wondering;

Not to get into a biology lesson here but there can be multiple fathers in the same litter of puppies, which may account for the fact that they all look different.  Each will still have Mom’s breed (or mix of breeds) but each pup may have a different father.  If you really want to know what breeds are in your pup, though, there is a way to find out.

Your veterinarian probably has pamphlets from different organizations that can test the D.N.A. of your dog to see what breeds are in there.  Not sure how accurate it is, but I’m guessing it’s pretty good.  The cost is generally around 125.00 for the actual testing but not sure what the cost is to get the D.N.A.

So, say you get the test done but you notice that a breed you’re not so fond of is in your mix.  Well, maybe you got the eye color or the webbed feet or the curl in the tail instead of the personality traits that make you nervous.  Remember this – your puppy is a mixture of a lot of different dogs.  You picked your puppy because you fell in love with his or her personality – not his or her breed.  Enjoy your new best friend, what ever he is!