I have a Miniature Pinscher who is 4 years old. She is a wonderful, loving baby who really has had no bad habits until now. Over the past couple of weeks, she has developed a bad habit of getting into the kitchen garbage! This is not like her, and she is driving me crazy with dragging out garbage and eating anything she can get. What are your suggestions on training tips to correct this behavior? I’m not sure why she has recently started doing this, and I am puzzled. —Tamara Folino, Mason, OH
Min Pins are great little dogs—a whole lot of dog in a little package! It is possible that perhaps her nutritional needs have changed, so a checkup at the vet may be in order. Perhaps she needs some sort of multi-vitamin or mineral to supplement the diet she is on now. Make sure that she is on a premium food consisting of human-grade ingredients.
I would encourage you to keep her on the leash at all times when you are at home supervising her. If she goes near the garbage, take the leash, give her a little tug, and say, “No. Leave it.” Say it strongly and sharply to get her a little startled, not too much, just enough to get her attention. Once she responds, be sure to give her lots and lots of praise. Keep practicing this over and over again. Before long, she will get the idea to not even go near the garbage.
Our 6-year-old Shih Tzu has recently developed a great fear of thunder and lightning storms. She starts shaking, barking, and pacing. Our first inclination was to cuddle her, but we found out later that was only rewarding her for her behavior! What do we do to help her through storms, and how do we help her unlearn that when she gets nervous and upset, she will get cuddled and fussed over? —Kaye Cunningham, Novi, MI
Thunder and lightening can be very frightening, but as with all things in life, she needs to learn to walk through the stress. From here on out, keep her with you, but do not touch her in any way. Let her go through the motions. Keep her on a leash so that you can keep her close, but no cuddling, petting, or stroking.
I would recommend getting some lavender oil. At the start of the storm and ideally before the storm begins, gently massage it into her ears under the flap. You can also rub some on her belly, but not too much. Also go to your local health food store and get some Rescue Remedy. Place two drops into one ounce of distilled water and place a couple of drops of that solution into her mouth.
If you start teaching her some fun tricks like “roll over” and “speak,” you can practice those tricks during the storm to distract her and give her something fun to do during the storm.
Babette Haggerty is the daughter of the dog-training pioneer the late Captain Haggerty and an accomplished trainer in her own right. The author of Woman’s Best Friend: Choosing and Training the Dog That’s Right for You, she lived and trained in Florida for 18 years, where she earned the award Palm Beach’s Favorite Dog Trainer, having trained the dogs of some very famous Palm Beachers, such as Curt Gowdy, Jimmy Buffet, and Jack Nicklaus. She now lives in New York City training dogs and their people while running her new website, MyGiftedDog.com. She shares her home with her son, daughter, and two dogs, a German Shepherd and French Bulldog. Pictured is Babette with 2008 Westminster winner Uno.
* The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Tails Pet Media Group, Inc. Please consult your veterinarian before making any major decisions for your pet.