DEAR DR. FOX: We are at our wits' end! Our adorable 5-year-old, 20-pound Havanese-poodle mix has started a behavior that is just not acceptable: He has started to bark ferociously and lunge at other dogs on our daily walks.
He has about five favorite dog friends that he can't wait to see. Other than his favorites, he acts extremely aggressive, even with little dogs half his size. Do you have any suggestions on how we should handle this behavior? -- B.R., Trenton, New Jersey
DEAR B.R.: Your dog has some doggy friends, so this aggressive behavior toward other dogs while on the leash may simply be "leash aggression." I would advise you to train him to sit and stay while on the leash, rewarding him intermittently with a treat. Then do this while out on walks when there are no other dogs around. Once he responds consistently, get him to sit and stay when any unfamiliar dog comes by.
If this fails, you might have better control with a harness than with a neck collar. The latter, when your dog pulls and lunges, could damage his trachea and possibly intensify his aggressive reaction.
Either way, when approached by a dog that your dog is not familiar with and friendly toward, simply stand still. Hold the leash firmly, but do not pull it toward you. Pulling could be an inciting signal.
Note: A study published in April in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that, between 2001 and 2020, an estimated 422,659 adults sought emergency care for injuries related to walking a leashed dog. Finger fracture, shoulder sprain/strain and traumatic brain injury were the most common injuries. To reduce the risk of injury, applied animal behaviorist Karen London suggests using front-attachment harnesses and 6- to 8-foot-long nonretractable leashes, training dogs well and avoiding places with known distractions. (Full story: The Washington Post, May 1)
U.K. BANS ELECTRIC SHOCK DOG COLLARS
From The Sun, April 28: "Electric shock dog collars will be banned across the U.K. (beginning in) February next year. The collars, which are often used as a training device, can deliver painful jolts continuously for 11 seconds. They send electrical shocks of varying intensity via a radio-controlled device, which can be triggered from two miles away. The devices cost about 20 pounds each, and about 1 in 20 Brits admitted to using them on their dogs."
SOUTH KOREAN FARMERS PROTEST FIRST LADY'S COMMENTS
Dozens of dog farmers in South Korea recently gathered near the office of President Yoon Suk Yeol to protest comments made by his wife, Kim Keon Hee, about a possible ban on the consumption of dog meat.
"About 1 million dogs are slaughtered for food annually in South Korea, a decrease from more than 3 million annually about 10-20 years ago," according to Ju Yeongbong, an official with an association of dog farmers. An Associated Press article states, "Dog meat is neither legally protected nor explicitly banned in South Korea. During election campaigning, Yoon said he personally opposed dog meat consumption, but that formulating a policy on outlawing it would require a public consensus." (Full story: Associated Press, April 25)
Westerners may be appalled by the idea of millions of dogs being killed for consumption. But pigs, just like dogs, are intelligent, sociable and empathic, and in the U.S. (and many other countries), pigs are not only eaten but are raised in overcrowded, inhumane conditions. They then suffer traumatic transportation to slaughter, where I have witnessed them screaming in terror.
Hog slaughter totaled 10.1 million in the U.S. in 2022, down 7% from April 2021. By purchasing and eating pork, consumers bring cruelty into the kitchen and onto their plates.
ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP YOUR CATS INDOORS
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 170 mammals have been infected with a highly pathogenic avian influenza during the ongoing outbreak, including cases in dogs and cats linked to predation. Veterinary diagnostic pathologist Sarah Sillman points out that avian influenza cases in domesticated cats are very rare, but often fatal; poultry veterinarian David Swayne says cases in humans are even rarer. Nevertheless, says ecologist Nichola Hill, dogs should be kept leashed and cats should remain indoors to protect them from contact with infected birds. (Full story: KCUR-FM, Kansas City, Missouri, April 27)
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