Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask Your Vet or Dog Trainer (Answered Here!)

 

Gas MaskIf you have a dog, you love him or her. Yet, as much as we like to “humanize” our beloved canine friends, they are really, really, really . . . not human (gasp!), nor are they cuddly little humans wrapped in fur (more gasps!). Thus, at some point or another, we bump up against truly odd or embarrassing things our dogs do and usually haven’t a clue why they’re doing them or even if you need to do something about them. Here then, in the first of what promises to be a long series: questions about those embarrassing moments and what, if anything, you can do to change, stop, or even (for those of you with a really sick sense of humor) increase them!

Q:    My dog gives off radium-activated clouds of gas. Is there something wrong with his digestive process or is this just a natural function for all dogs?

A:    Our expert says:

If your dog gives off gas that awful, here’s what to do: Leave the room! (Ha…ha).

Okay – here’s what he really said:  Excessive gas is usually caused by food – either your dog may have an allergy or is consuming foods high in protein or cellulose. Dogs that gulp their foods are also prone to gas. So, the remedy may be just to give your dog food in smaller portions two or three  times a day and to try changing around the types of food you’re using. If you do change around the food, talk to your vet first and be sure to introduce new food gradually. Another culprit: human food. Just stop doing it. We know who you are – the little ones who push the food he/she doesn’t like into the waiting maws of your under-the-table-pleading-to-be-fed-even-though-he-just-ate or the one who feels that baby isn’t having a fulfilling life without all the tidbits that their human enjoys. Another option is to sprinkle charcoal pills on the dog’s food weekly. (Find these special pills in a pet store). They work in the same way that Beano does for humans.

Finally: If the gas really is like an atomic explosion, especially if there are other symptoms like a runny stool or stomach upsets, this is a sign of something far more serious and may require immediate medical care from your vet.

Q:    When guests come into my house, my dog immediately rushes up to their crotch and smells it. How can I stop him from doing this?

A:    Our expert says:

Photo Credit: meandwee.etsy.com

Photo Credit: meandwee.etsy.com

Oh, come on. Let him have some fun! Don’t you wish you could do that, especially if the other person is particularly beautiful or handsome? (Yes. Our expert is a sick puppy).

First the answer to “why” dogs like to stick their sweet, wet noses into our private areas. That’s because we have a lot of scent information down there. Dogs learn more by “scenting” while humans learn more by “seeing.” So, the fact that your dog is zeroing in on the most fragrant area to learn about the new person coming into the house is a perfectly natural response.

There are several training methods to diminish and, eventually, stop the dog from doing this. Here are a few to try (that you should be doing anyway, to teach your dog good manners, if nothing else):

"Place!"

“Place!”

1) Train your dog to sit and stay around guests

Attach a leash and pocket some dog treats. Provide a specific “greeting” area or “place” where your dog must sit and stay. When first giving the command, you will need to say the word and walk your dog to his area. Reinforce this with periodic treats until he/she goes to his “place” immediately. Once your dog does this correctly,  have a friend come into the house. As your friend approaches, tell your dog to sit and stay in the specific area you’ve designated. When your dog is in his “place,” and focused on you (instead of your friend), reward him with a treat. Sit down with your friend and allow the dog to get up. But, each time your dog starts to sniff, tell him to “place.” As soon as he does, give him a treat. Repeat, giving treats periodically. Practice for a week or two in 5-10 minute training sessions. Once your dog has grasped the idea that he has to sit and stay rather than standing and sniffing crotches (the doggie greeting), recruit more friends and continue practicing until he can generalize the behavior in public areas.

2) Dog Crates

Crates are NOT a tool for punishment. Used properly, your dog will enjoy the security and quiet that the crate provides. The crate is actually the natural evolutionary place for the wolf who used caves. Whenever someone comes to your house, place your dog in his or her crate. Once your guests are settled and the dog has become accustomed to their voices and scent, let him out of the crate. But, if he starts sniffing crotches, casually put him back in the crate. But, one important caution: Do not ever scold your dog when putting him in his/her crate. This is the fastest way for a dog to dread going into the crate because you will have set him up to think of the crate as punishment and not the nice, safe, secure place it should be.

3) Dog Toys

Creators of toys have invented lots of interactive types just for dogs and we especially like the treat-dispensing or sound-motivating type that can be used to distract the dog when guests arrive. These should be special toys – only provided to your dog when you have company. Having the toy constantly available invites boredom and won’t promote the dog’s interest and distraction needed. Most dogs would much rather play with a toy that gives out treats than sniff somebody’s crotch.

 

That’s all the time we have for today.  In a future column we’ll tackle doggie nymphomaniacs (yep — they’re out there!) and sexually transmitted disease.

Have YOU got an embarrassing question about your dog?  Come on, don’t be shy (we’ve heard them all!).  Use the “Reply” form below and send it in.

We'd love to get your comments and feedback on this topic and post. To add your comments, scroll to the bottom of the page and "Leave a Reply" (type your thoughts into the text box).

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8 Responses to Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask Your Vet or Dog Trainer (Answered Here!)

  1. Barbara July 27, 2013 at 1:57 am #

    As some dogs age they may not be properly digesting nutrients. Camano Island Veterinary Clinic introduced me to Prozyme a decade or so ago which helps prevent gas.
    It may seem pricey, but you only use a weight/proportionate amount on the dogs food.
    It works best if you start with food your dog tolerates well, which doesn’t have to be pricey.
    The human equivalent would be Wobenzym, because we, too, often need help digesting nutrients as we age.
    The Wobenzyme is so good that it replaces Beano for many people.
    If while on Prozyme, the dog is still a noxious gas factory, follow Dr. Blooms other suggestions.

  2. Marie Grime July 31, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    You’ve already helped in two ways, Dr. Bloom!

    First, my son has a large, precious plot hound who is way too interested in everyone’s “nether region.”

    Second, I have a sister-in-law dog lover who thinks crates are the most cruel thing you can do to a dog. She’s not a computer person, unfortunately, so I printed this column and am giving it to her to read next time I see her.

  3. Carol Coates July 31, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    Hello Dr Pat, this is a great opportunity to learn about the more delicate aspects of animal behaviour but there is nothing I can’t ask my vet about my dog. I’m not easily embarrassed……….but……(there’s always a ‘but’ after a pause like that!) one thing that flusters me and am ashamed to mention it to my vet is…………I suffer terribly with separation anxiety! Yes, you read it right, ‘I’ suffer with it! When Sassi had to go in to have her teeth cleaned, I made it sound like a joke, but it fell flat, I asked him if I could have the sedative. Oh did I feel like an eejit?! Another time I had to leave her for blood tests because of the drugs she’s on. I thought it would be reasonable to ask the vet if he could sedate her while I was there, but he tried to assure me that Sas would be perfectly OK. I wanted to scream “YEAH BUT I BLOODY WON’T!” I wanted him to know I would be a wreck, walking in circles, smoking, if I were a smoker, drinking strong alcohol, if I were a drinker and feeling sick to my stomach until they rang to say ‘you can pick her up’! Oh Lord, how embarrassing! I am typing this under my dining table as I can’t bear the shame! Dr. Pat, PLEASE, is there a cure for my condition and do you know a psychiatrist who can deal with it. I won’t be able to keep an appointment if I can’t bring my Sassi, so they MUST be dog friendly. Thank you so much! 😉

  4. Kathleen Kaska July 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Well, you asked for it. Remember, you said there are no embarrassing questions. My dog (in heaven now) began exhibiting a strange behavior. I never even had the nerve to ASK my vet. When the phone rang, she would run up to me and hump my leg. Talk about embarrassing, especially when I had company over.

  5. Maggie March 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    Hi, and thanks for offering this service.
    We have a 10 month old blue heeler mix pup who is not in the least afraid of vehicles. He adores my husband, so wants to be as close to him as possible… even when Dennis is INSIDE the car, truck or tractor! Buddy will not only run near the vehicle… but sometimes in the case of the tractor… BETWEEN the tires while its moving! We are constantly swerving and slamming on the breaks to avoid hitting Bud. We tried a shock collar, and this only makes him go closer to the vehicle to be near Dennis. We are SURELY going to run our own dog over if this continues. Can you make any suggestions? He is otherwise a very smart puppy…
    Thanks again.
    – Maggie

    • Dr. B March 8, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

      Here is a response from our dog trainer regarding the question you asked about keeping your dog from running near your car/truck/tractor:

      Dear Maggie,

      The answer to your question may also provide the solution: What do they want him to do rather than follow the vehicles? Would it be ok for the dog to go to his bed or go into the yard? He needs to know that command first. For example, one of my clients keeps a small carpet in her living room where the dog goes whenever she says, “Place!” So, the first thing I would do is teach Bud “Place.” It can be a game where you tell him “Place” and go there quickly with him. He gets a treat when he gets there. Then “Break” and he can leave the spot. Once Bud goes there when given the command, Dennis needs to tell him to “Place.” Then, Dennis should go to the truck. If the dog follows, he gets a correction and is taken back to his “place” spot. Once Bud is good with that, then Dennis can start the truck. Again if the dog follows, he is taken back with correction and told to “place” or whatever word you want to use, and then go back to the truck. If the dog stays, Dennis must go to the dog and give him praise, even a treat. Next he can make the truck move. Again if the dog moves he must go to the dog and place him back in his spot. This will take some time and repetition.
      Once you are certain the dog knows what is expected of him, you can use the e-collar. If he follows to the truck, the collar is on a low level and he is given the correction to “Place” (on leash if necessary need). Do the same routine as above but the correction is now given on the collar. It is so very important that the dog is given praise when he is right and also some running time when it is appropriate. Heelers are herding dogs so you are asking him to go against nature by not letting him herd but if you can give him a job he will still be that happy dog. As I said, this will take some time and some persistence from you because heelers may be smart but they are also stubborn.

      Good luck and please let us know how you are doing.

  6. Dr. B March 3, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Hello Maggie —

    We at My Magic Dog just received your question about your dog running between the wheels of your truck. Believe it or not, this behavior (frightening as it is) isn’t as rare as you think.

    I’m forwarding your question to our marvelous dog trainer who will, I’m sure, come up with some creative solutions.

    Please stay in touch to let us know how things work out.

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