Q: Oliver is a great dog most of the time. I live with my grandma, who just can't control him. I work nights, so she tries to take him for a walk but he's always pulling her, lunging ahead. Also, he sometimes barks when she takes him out. Is there a way to get him to behave for Grandma? All he wants to do is to roughhouse. I hope you won't say we have too big of a dog to handle.
A: "This is a common issue, and a fixable problem," says veterinary behaviorist Dr. R.K. Anderson, director of the Center to Study Human/Animal Relationships and Environments at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Minneapolis. "We control horses — certainly larger than this dog — with a halter, so why not a head halter for dogs?"
There are several brands of halters used for dogs, and Anderson invented the first of these, called the Gentle Leader. "Also, Granny can use treats in her hand to motivate the dog to stay with her, but the Gentle Leader will give her control," says Anderson. "I just received a letter from a grandmother using a walker who was able to walk her dog because she was using a Gentle Leader."
Oliver might be a lot of dog for Granny, but this can work. I suggest Grandma enlists hands-on help from a qualified dog trainer for further assistance.
You can see how the Gentle Leader works by watching video clips, and get lots of training tips from qualified experts, on Anderson's Web site: www.abrionline.org.
Chip doesn't hurt
Q: I enjoy your column and your approach on many issues. I'd like to have Brownie, my precious 3-year-old Ragdoll cat, microchipped. My vet is the only one in my area who uses anesthetic for this procedure. He's says it's inhumane not to. My friend says there's no need for anesthetic. Who's right? I want the best for Brownie. Also, is microchipping a good idea?
A: Something doesn't add up. I can't imagine your veterinarian is unaware that microchipping is a simple injection to implant a microchip that looks like a grain of rice. Here's conjecture from Chicago veterinarian Dr. Sheldon Rubin: "Perhaps you misunderstand, and maybe your cat needs a dental or some (other) procedure soon where anesthetic is required and the veterinarian figures that might be a good time to microchip. Certainly, though, anesthetic is not required. It takes a few seconds to implant a microchip, and it's no more painful that your average vaccine. Another possibility is that your cat is fractious — very difficult to handle. But veterinarians know how to deal with that."
As for whether microchipping is a good idea, Rubin doesn't hesitate. "Absolutely, even indoor cats might get outside. And look at the disasters, like hurricanes and floods, and the pets who were most likely (to be) recovered were those that were microchipped. Microchipping is an insurance policy which I believe is a very good idea for cats, as well as dogs."
Send questions to Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.