Animal Doctor

Animal Doctor: How to Transform a Social Pariah Into the Life of the Dog Park

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dear Dr. Fox:

My husband and I have a brindle beauty, Raisin, a 5-year-old collie mix. He goes ballistic when he sees other dogs. What can we do about this? We signed up for a Humane Society training seminar a few years ago, but the $75 fee for the "Growly Dog" course was just too much for us. I used to carry a water gun when we walked the dog, but I got tired of losing it. I bought one of those clickers, but they don't help. I was encouraged by doctors to adopt a pet because I suffer from depression. The doctors were right: My depression is a lot better. But we also want to help Raisin.

M.S.W.

St. Louis

Dogs bark for many reasons, including excitement, for attention or to warn and protect. My guess is that your dog is not properly "dog socialized" and needs off-leash time with other dogs. Dogs on the leash are probably feeling vulnerable when restrained and tend to be more protective and defensive.

Your reactions are important. Don't discipline or tug hard on the leash; that might incite him as he picks up on your anxiety. Play it cool. Try to teach him to sit and stay. Buy a gentle leader that goes around his muzzle for easier control when he's on the leash.

He needs quality time to play with other dogs, the best therapeutic rehabilitation being in a safe back yard with an easygoing dog. Your dog is your therapist and healer, so you owe him the best you can give.

Dear Dr. Fox:


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