DEAR DR. FOX: We have two West Highland white terriers. The problem is that our Westies, Sammy and Rosie, keep barking. My neighbors have erected a guillotine for my husband and me. I will admit it is our fault -- the dogs came to us with papers and the assurance that they were partly potty trained. Ha! Potty training was as easy as it could be with me in the hospital and my husband working and trying to train the dogs.
They bark because they have had little training. I will be able to walk them in about a month, and I will use a Gentle Leader. But how do I train them to not bark? None of the other dogs in the neighborhood bark. What do I do? I am retired and love them dearly, but even I cannot stand the barking. -- S.B., Columbia, Md.
DEAR S.B.: Barking dogs are a nuisance in many neighborhoods -- even my own.
You must first note when and what triggers your dogs to bark and work from there. Your dogs bark when they are let out into the yard, so take them for a walk instead, especially when it is early in the morning and barking will awaken neighbors.
External sounds can be a trigger, such as delivery vehicles. Buy a clicker from the pet store with which to train your dogs. Give a few clicks as soon as they bark, and redirect their attention with a favorite toy or a nutritious treat. When they are quiet, use the clicker to get their attention, tell them to sit and stay and then give them another treat. Once they are conditioned, try cross conditioning: calling out sit and stay when they bark, and then give them either a treat or a toy. This will keep them guessing and distracted.
There are some well-designed anti-barking collars you might try -- not the jolting electric shock types, but those that make an irritating buzz or shoot out a squirt of a mildly irritating botanical essence to deter the dog.
If these measures -- along with long walks, lots of exercise, drawing the curtains and leaving a radio on when they are alone -- do not work, ask your veterinarian for a referral to an animal behavior therapist.
Terriers like yours can be tough to teach when and when not to bark, but a good behavioral therapist may be your best solution.
ANOTHER PET FOOD RECALL
Breeder's Choice Pet Food has recalled AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula because of a possible salmonella health risk.
The single manufacturing batch of dog food was distributed to retailers and distributors in the states of California, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Virginia and Washington.
For more information about the Sept. 11 recall, call Breeder's Choice Customer Service representatives at 1-866-500-6286 or visit Avoderm.com.
NEW PAPERBACK EDITION OF PET FOOD BOOK
Animal Doctor columnist Dr. Michael W. Fox and distinguished veterinarians Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins and Marion E. Smart reveal what really goes into manufactured pet food and offer concerned pet owners a nutritionally sound alternative in their book "Not Fit for a Dog! The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food," now available in paperback.
"Not Fit for a Dog!" educates readers with extensive information on animal nutrition, including:
-- How to read pet food labels and what ingredients to avoid.
-- How to save on vet bills by preventing diet-related disease in pets.
-- What diet-related diseases your pet may already have and how a change in diet can help.
-- Why veterinarians are often ignorant of the health effects of manufactured pet food.
-- Why cats are more at risk from dry pet foods than dogs.
-- Why many "prescription" diets for pets are, in fact, drugs.
-- Why the dangerous practices of the pet food industry are a sign of dangers in the human food supply.
"Not Fit for a Dog!" shows readers a better way to take care of their pets -- a wholesome, natural diet made from real food, including easy-to-prepare recipes for pet foods and treats made from organic ingredients that will keep pets healthy and satisfied. Comprehensive information about pet nutrition and raw food options will help readers customize foods to their pets' individual needs and make informed choices when buying dry and canned pet foods. Combining science, social concern and compassion, "Not Fit for a Dog!" presents a plan for a healthier way of life for pets and humans.
Find "Not Fit for a Dog!" at QuillDriverBooks.com and Amazon.com.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)