How can I stop my dog from jumping on people?

Jumping on people is your dog’s way of showing affection and getting attention.  But what may have been cute when your dog was a puppy can be downright annoying when he’s full grown. I’ve had 65-pound Golden Retrievers jump on me and there’s nothing endearing about it.

When training your dog: a good rule to follow is “to ignore inappropriate behavior and praise good behavior.”  Easier said than done, I know.

But next time Fido jumps on you, ignore him.  That’s right.  Turn your back to him, and cross your arms until he stops jumping. When he’s settled down, reward him with ample praise or treats.  It will take several times before he gets the message. But eventually, he’ll learn that  “sitting dogs get more attention than jumping dogs.”

Once he’s mastered the basics, the real challenge will be outdoors. For starters, be armed with plenty of yummies.  When your dog is about to jump on someone, say “sit” in a stern voice and drop a morsel of two on the ground.  It’s pretty hard to scrounge for goodies and jump at the same time.  As soon as his hind end hits the pavement, praise your dog lavishly.

Be patient. Just as your dog became adept at jumping over time, he’s not likely to stop immediately. Practice is essential. Be consistent.  And when strangers excuse your dog for this indiscretion (and they will), politely say that he is in training.  Hang in there.

At the end of the day, having a polite dog will be its own reward.




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How protein can impact behavior

I noticed that two of my clients — belonging to the Italian Greyhound family — had become more aggressive with other dogs.  These normally affectionate pups even started barking at people on the street … which which something new.

For some dogs with behavioral problems, elevated protein levels can increase territorial aggression.

When Dr. Nick Dodman, Director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University Vet School, performed a blind study — where dogs were given a diet of high protein (32 percent), medium protein (25 percent) and low protein (17 percent) — participants were asked to keep a log about their dog’s behavior.

The results were striking.  There was almost a linear correlation between territorial aggression and high protein levels. Dodman says that 17 percent is the minimum necessary for good health.

I like to check in with my clients. So when I noticed this significant behavioral change, we had a long discussion. They, too, noticed a difference in their dogs’ behavior and were anxious to modify it. They had previously consulted with Dr. Dodman, so we all agreed that a new diet (one with less protein) would be beneficial.

In a few weeks time, I think we’ll see a difference. And hopefully, the dogs will be more relaxed on their walks. Because that’s what it’s all about.

* The Well-Adjusted Dog by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman



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Accidental dog bites

Caesar Milan just had a great post: 5 reasons why our dogs might bite us.

1) Maternal instincts. Always respect a mother dog with her young puppies.

2) Physical pain or discomfort.  Dogs tend to be very stoic and adept at hiding their pain. If you inadvertently touch a sore spot, your pup may bite without warning.  If you suspect this is the case, take your dog to the vet.

3) Fear.  When your dog feels frightened or cornered, it may lash out.  Frequently, this is a one-time event. But if there is a trigger (e.g., awaking your dog suddenly when it’s sleeping under the table), try to avoid that in the future.

4) Possessiveness.  This occurs when we try to take a favorite toy — e.g., rawhide chewy — away from our dog.  This may be characteristic of dominance, and if not corrected, turn into aggression.

5) Prey drive. Sometimes that tug-of-war game we love can lead to an unintended bite.  In which case, it’s advisable to modify your play to something less aggressive, such as playing fetch with a tennis ball.

Since dogs manipulate their world primarily with their mouths,  accidental bites can happen.  That doesn’t mean that your dog is aggressive. Try to stay calm, and remember, always supervise canine play with young children.

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Keeping your dog safe in a disaster

When disaster strikes, it may be days before you can return home. I found that out from personal experience during a major blizzard.  Thinking I’d return in a day or two,  I went to a friend’s house, after leaving kitty with enough rations to last for several days. Three days later when I went to visit her, I was stopped by the State Police for being on the road.  Although they ultimately let me through the blockade, that taught me an important lesson.

Here is what experts at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine have to say about keeping your dog safe: And many of these recommendations are just as pertinent for cat owners:

• stay up-to-date on vaccinations especially rabies, so your pet will be accepted at a kennel or emergency shelter.

• microchip your dog or cat and update relevant information with the microchip company when you move.

• securely fasten an ID collar to your dog with his name and phone numbers.

• choose a designated person as stand-in to evacuate your pet in case emergency strikes when you’re at work. 

• identify pet-friendly motels and/or friends and relatives outside your immediate area area who could take you in.

Keep an evacuation kit handy with the following:

• 4-14 day supply of water, food, and medication

• food and water bowls

• flashlight

• battery powered radio

• photo of you and your pet to help prove ownership

• photocopy of veterinary records to prove your pet’s current vaccination status

Always keep a disaster kit ready in case the unexpected happens. For more information, click on “Saving the Whole Family” at



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ABCs to handling pet food properly

Although many pet owners feel strongly about feeding their dogs and cats raw food, it is always advisable to check with your veterinarian first.  In addition to lacking many essential nutrients, raw food may carry harmful bacteria such as Salmonella.

Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has to say:

When shopping for pet food:

1) Inspect the package carefully.  Avoid packaging with visible signs of damage or discoloration.

2) Avoid dented pet food cans.

Preparation tips:

1) Wash your hands after handling pet food and treats.

2) Feed your pets in areas other than the kitchen, when possible, to avoid cross contamination.

3) Don’t wash pets’ bowls/utensils in the kitchen sink.  When there’s no alternative, disinfect the sink after cleaning pet food items.

4) Use a dedicated scoop or cup, not the pet’s feed bowl, as a scooper.


1) Store dry pet food in its original bag, with the top folded down or closed,  inside a clean dedicated container with a lid.

2) Store pet food/treats in dry cool place.

3) Refrigerate or discard unused, leftover pet food and containers to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

For more information, click on the following CDC links.

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Feline tapeworm… one dose of prevention goes a long way

A client of mine remarked that her cat may have tapeworm as a result of a summer infestation of fleas.  That piqued my interest so I did some research.

While fleas do not produce tapeworm per se, they can host this troublesome parasite.  As the cat tries to get rid itself of these pests through grooming, s/he may inadvertently swallow one.

While more bothersome than dangerous, they can rob your cat of important nutrients.  They attach themselves to the cats intestine, where they mature and release eggs in two or three weeks.

Grains resembling rice, around your cat’s butt or in the litter box, are a tell tale sign. It can also be confirmed through a stool sample.  Your vet will prescribe a medication to target the tapeworm.  The first dose will kill the adult worms and the second will extinguish the larvae.  Be sure to check back with your vet for an all-clear.

And in case you’re wondering, yes it is possible for humans to contract tapeworms by ingesting an infected flea.  So it is especially important to keep children away from infected dirt or feces.  Also using good hygiene, such as washing hands, after handing an animal will go a long way to prevent this.

For more information click:

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Silence is golden

One of my clients is a Tibetan terrier.  He is totally adorable and just as demanding. When we’re in his mom’s kitchen after our walk, he barks relentlessly for treats with a shrill ear-piercing woof.  In the past, when I’ve tried commands such as “Enough, or no bark,” he merely turns up the volume as if to say, “Didn’t you hear me? Don’t you understand?

So today, I thought I’d try something different: namely just to ignore Timmy.  And when that didn’t work, he tried to get my attention by butting me with his head.  It took what little self-restraint I possess not to crack up laughing.  But I ignored my little guy, no eye contact, no vocalizations on my part, nothing.

And you know what, he stopped barking.  I finished my business at his house.  I keep a journal written from my canine client’s perspective and left quietly.  What a difference!  While this technique may not be effective in all contexts — for instance when your dog is barking at another dog or the mail carrier, it is very helpful when your dog is vying for your attention.

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Old cats learn new tricks

Yes, even cats can learn new tricks and clicker training can help.  Historically clickers have been used to train a wide variety of animals such as porpoises, zoo animals, dogs, children, so why not cats.  And they can be purchased at any pet store for roughly $1-2.

All you need is a little patience and smelly treats — cut into pea-sized bits — to whet your cat’s appetite.

1) Start with a behavior that your cat does automatically such as sitting.

2) Hold the treat above your cat’s nose. When she starts to lower her bum, say “sit,” then click and reward.  It’s just that simple.

2)  Or use this operant conditioning to reward your cat when he’s doing something you like such as using his scratching post. The same principle applies.  When he starts to scratch, click and treat.  And once your cat begins to associate “clicks” with food, he will choose behaviors that are “click worthy.”

3) Lastly, always use clicker training for positive reinforcement.  The end result with be a greater bond between the two of you.

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How to find a missing cat

If you have reason to suspect that your cat is lost (and not just hiding),  here are a few important tips.  According to an feline expert, who used to do search and rescue work with the California police, most cats are found within a 3-5 house radius of where they live.

While outdoor cats are likely to be farther afield, indoor kitties will probably be hiding near your house. Or, they may have taken refuge in a neighbor’s backyard, garage, basement, crawl space, etc.  And don’t be surprised if she doesn’t respond when you call.  She may be too frightened to move;  instinct tells her that it’s safer to be quiet — as not to attract predators.

But don’t give up.  Put up posters. Offer a reward.  Although it may seem logical to call local animal shelters, it’s more likely that a dog will have been picked up than a cat. One of my friends lost Toby for two weeks.  Thanks to a poster, and a call from a stranger who spotted him, the two were reunited.

Some experts recommend using a humane trap, baited with tuna fish or other delicious food, and baby monitor. If you go that route, be sure to check the trap often and don’t be surprised if another animal is inside.

Fortunately many cats will come out of hiding in 5 to 10 days motivated by hunger and thirst.  When one of my clients moved cross country, Mimi escaped.  Jennifer had almost given up hope.  But I encouraged her to drive back to the neighborhood where she had last seen her.   And seventeen days later, she found her precious Mimi.

Lastly, here is an excellent website for owners of missing cats:

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Where’s Kitty?

I was enjoying the view from my garden, when a young woman approached me.  I noticed that she had kitty treats in hand.  “Did you see a suspicious person walk by?” she inquired.  When prodded, she said that her cat was missing.   Moreover, she thought that someone might have stolen Bao out of the first floor window.  As she narrated her tale — how she had come to the US to study and was returning to China with Bao — she became very agitated and started to cry.  I hugged her and said, “Let’s go and find her.”

I’m certainly not a sleuth. But when I plied her with specific questions, I deduced that kitty was still in her apartment. I said, “I’ll bet that kitty is hiding in a drawer or closet, some small space where she feels safe and secure.” “How do you know?” she asked.  “Because I’ve been in the same situation countless times,” I answered.

Apparently the woman didn’t believe me because a few minutes later I saw a police cruiser come to a halt in front of her apartment.  After they left, she continued her search.  But about an hour later, she came back with great news.  “I found my cat and I thought you’d want to know.”

“I’m so happy for you,” I replied.  “Where was she?, I asked. “In a drawer!” she replied.  Cats certainly wander off  all the time.  That said… if logic tells you that it’s improbable,   look closely in every imaginable hiding place you can think of: crawl spaces in your home, bureau drawers, closets, washers and dryers, basement areas, etc.  And bring along some kitty treats to sweeten the deal.

Next time, how to find kitty if she has wandered off.

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