Ask a Vet or Trainer

Pets are very often abandoned or surrendered to a shelter due to one or more health or behavior issues. These pets are then often passed from one owner to another, never ending up in their forever home. Most of the time they do not make good candidates for adoption because of their issues. Seeking help from a qualified trainer or your pet’s veterinarian should be the first option.

If you want to keep your pet but feel you must re-home him due to a behavioral or health problem, you may want to e-mail one of the expert veterinarians or the trainer below for advice. Fill in the form below to submit your question, and we’ll get an answer for you as soon as possible. Keep in mind: We recommend that pet owners contact their veterinarian immediately if an urgent issue or concern arises.

If you find that in the end you just can’t keep your pet any longer, then be sure to disclose any behavioral or health problems to the new adopter to determine whether or not they are up to the challenge.

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Training Questions

What is the best way to bring her into my house with other dogs
Question: I am fixing to adopt a 4 yr. old Great Dane, and I own 2 Schnauzers a 1 yr.old and 7 yr.old. What is the best way to bring her into my house, without a fight? Should I do inhome training? I spoke with Sandy, FHCR. She told me about you!

  Answer: Hi Mrs. Tucker, What I recommend is to bring your new dog in and have a crate to put the dog in. Place the crate into the middle of the common area like say the living room. Allow the other dogs in one at a time. You don’t want both dogs to sniff at the same time since dogs seem to bully more in groups. Give your first Schnauzer 30 minutes to an hour to smell the Great Dane from outside of the crate, then trade out Schnauzers and let the second one have their own time as well. Then I would switch the dogs out, put one of your Schnauzers in the crate (keep the other one away still) and this time let the Great Dane check out the place. After a bit , switch out your Schnauzers and repeat! The last step is to let the Great Dane and one of your Schnauzers together one on one without the crate and then switch out the Schnauzers. If these all go well then you can cut them loose all together. It sounds like a lot of work, but when you have multiple dogs this is the easiest transition we have found for them. As for In-home training, that is a quick way to establish structure in your home! Thank you for your questions! Regards, Jason Purgason, CPDT-KA Training Director Highland Canine Training, LLC www.highlandcanine.com 866.200.2207

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Is it possible to house-train a dog who is 9 years old
Question: Is it possible to house-train a dog who is 9 years old and spent his life in a large fenced in back yard?

  Answer: Pam, Yes, it is possible. The first step is to purchase and crate train rigorously. Dogs typically don’t want to “poop” or pee where they eat and sleep. You also want to provide all the treats, toys and bones in the crate so the dog will learn to enjoy his new area. This may take time, when I dog has never been crated before you may experience some barking, whining, or scratching…don’t give in, it will get better! Take the dog outside as soon as you remove it from the crate (Use the same door each time). Once outside take the dog to the area you want it to relieve itself and walk it around, (this will take time). As soon as the dog relieves itself, praise, praise praise, praise. Keep the dog outside and play or have free time in the house (watch closely so the dog doesn’t have an accident). Don’t immediately but the dog in the crate, make sure you give free time! With consistency your dog will understand house training in no time! Regards, Jason Purgason, CPDT-KA

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Dog shows aggression toward other dogs but not people
Question: We adopted a flat coated retriever 4 years ago from a shelter where she had numerous four-legged pals. She has become increasingly aggressive with all dogs and has injured three, despite our best efforts to avoid this. She is loving, affectionate and playful with people.  We need to "rehome" her for another issue (son's allergies) and won't have much luck with this aggression issue.  Can you help?

Answer:Aggression can often be a frustrating behavior to work with.  In order to effectively rehabilitate problem behaviors, such as aggression, you must first properly diagnosed the problem.  It is vitally important to understand the root cause of the problem in order to begin to fix the issue.  The behaviors that you are describing could be the result of possessive aggression, fear aggression or dominance aggression.  In order to treat any of these behaviors you will likely need the help of an experienced dog trainer or behavior specialist in order to first properly diagnose the problem.  Then a course of treatment can be developed to help curb the aggression with your dog.  If you are located in any of our service areas www.highlandcanine.com/contact.htm feel free to contact the trainer in your area for a free evaluation so that your dogs problem can be diagnosed and addressed.

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Small dog always scared and nerveous
Question: We adopted a yorkie from FHCR  he is a sweet dog but he is very afraid and nervous and stays at my feet constantly I am afraid I am going to step on him and hurt him. He will not go into the yard without me. I am hoping this will change with time. How can I in the meantime help him be more secure and get him away from my feet? I have another small dog in the house, they seem to be getting along well until she barks then he gets really afraid and nervous.

  Answer: I would begin by crating your Yorkie at night to ensure that he is safe while you sleep. To address his fears, I would begin to have new people feed him treats whenever he encounters them. As for the dog constantly being under your feet, I would try to encourage him to give you some space by taking some of his favorite food or treats an throwing it on the ground or floor a few feet away from you. In time, you will see that he naturally creates some space from you. You will want to reward this behavior by again throwing treats in the ground during those times when he is ample distance (you decide the comfortable distance) from you. Regards, Jason Purgason, CPDT-KA

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2 year old terrier mix gets aggressive and possessive over things he is not allowed to have.
Question: We adopted out dog 2 years ago when was 8 weeks old.  He is an unknown mix, but looks like a terrier of some sort.  He has always liked to bite, but this problem has gotten progressively worse over the past 2 years.  He is now extremely possessive over certain things (the couch- not allowed on, under our bed- not allowed under, toys- we've now taken them all away).  Even though we try to take away the things the likes to be possessive over, he still gets very aggressive and has even bitten us several times.  We had a baby 8 months ago and cannot risk this behavior with our son.  We love our dog so much, but are at a loss on what to do.  We feel like we've tried everything.  Our first choice is to rehome (as we don't have money to have extensive training), but are unsure who will take an aggressive dog.  And advice?

Answer: Hi Stephanie, This is common problem we see with dogs who are bored or not stimulated. However a proper diagnoses would have to be made in person by a professional dog trainer/behaviorist. We have found in the past that owners who would like to re-home the problematic dog have much more success when they have the dog put through professional obedience with behavior modification. It's a proven fact that simply re-homing the dog without attempting to maintain the behavior results in the dogs becoming euthanized. Please let us know if we can be of assistance diagnosing your dog. Regards, Jason Purgason Training Director Highland Canine Training, LLC 866.200.2207 www.highlandcanine.com

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Small dog barking at night
Question: I adopted a 3 year old female Shih Tzu last year.  The adoption organization told me she came from a small breeder that kept her in a small outside kennel. She is a great little dog but she has an annoying persistant bark at night. It happens after we have gone to bed when someone comes in the house late or any loud noise outside.  How do I remedy this problem? We need our sleep, any ideas?

Answer: Patti, The first thing to do is to begin by ignoring the behavior. ANY comments to the dog negative (“No” or “Stop it”) or positive (“oh, it’s ok, it’s just sissy”) give the dog the attention that it is seeking. The longer a behavior has gone on, the longer it will take to correct. It sounds like the behavior has been going on for 2-3 years. Correcting it can be fairly easy, BUT will take time. Step 1: “Birdcage” Method: Cover the dog’s crate with a sheet or blanket and place in an isolated part of the house. Put toys, treats, peanut butter filled kong, or whatever else the dog like. You don’t want it to be a punishment. The dog needs to be conditioned that there will be no reward outside the crate for making noise. Step 2: Be Consistent: (This is the hardest part)You need to do this every night realizing that it may take several weeks because of how long the behavior has been a part of the dog’s routine. This is not a quick fix. Step 3: If there is no reduction in barking, you may need to seek an evaluation for a trained professional. Regards, Jason Purgason, CPDT-KA

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Vet Questions

Bad dog breath after cleaning
Question: Why does my dogs breath still have an odor right after I have had them professionally cleaned?

  Answer: Patti Without an exam of your pet it is difficult to determine what the issue is. I have clients who consider "normal" dog breath offensive so that is one possibility. Your dog's breath will never be without odor but there are mouth washes and water additives that can help. My next question would be what the "professional dental cleaning" consisted of. First it must be performed by a veterinarian while your pet is under anesthesia. A professional cleaning without anesthesia will never totally clean your pets teeth. Next we need to determine what the dental x-rays showed. I have seen many pets who have perfectly healthy crowns of their teeth with severe dental disease under the gum line causing problems and odor. Without quality dental x-rays the roots of the teeth cannot be assessed and disease can be missed. If all of the above are ok then your dog may be one who develops tartar and calculus quickly and will need more aggressive home care including oral sealants, products to be applied directly to the gingiva and, of course, brushing. Our practice performs complimentary dental assessments. Feel free to set up an appointment. Dr Chip Cooney Animal Hospital of Statesville

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Do I need to declaw my cat?
Question: Our cat is about 2 YO and still acts quite kittenish.  He's quite playful and doesn't mean to tear up the house, but with his enthusiasm, playfulness, and sharp claws, the hardwood floors are suffering, as are various pieces of furniture and drapes in the house.  He's been diagnosed with an eye condition that prevents him from being let outside.  Can you please speak to the issue of our possibly declawing him?  I know claws can be removed by lasers, but this seems to be out of our budget.  Is the cheaper alternative much more painful to cats, especially to an adult cat?

Answer: While declawing would be the easy answer, it is the most costly. I would not recommend having your cat declawed with anything other than the laser. We have been using it for almost 12 years and will not perform this surgery any other way. The recovery is much quicker and the pain is much less-especially in an adult cat. If you chose this option your cat cannot be allowed outdoors as he will not be able to protect himself or climb as well. Keeping the cat's nails trimmed frequently (maybe weekly) could definitely help. This is something you can do at home for only the minimal cost of the nail trimmers. Another option is using soft paws. These are rubber "claws" that are glued on over top of your cat's real claws. Theses are availble on line and can be applied at home. They do have to be replaced periodically depending on the activity level of the cat. Most cats tolerate them well so this is another option for you. Dr Chip Cooney Animal Hospital of Statesville

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