Dear Matthew: I have heard you are a fantastic trainer of dogs and owners. My problem is with my 4-year-old female chow. She is the best dog I could have asked for.
I do have two problems, though. The first is minor: This dog loves to lick my back. Not during the day, but at night. She will bite through covers to get at it when she gets in a mood. By the way, she is fixed.The next is serious: She will bite anyone who enters the house and barks violently till foam is in her mouth should they come into the driveway. It is really worrying me.
I have tried to socialize her more, but is it too late? I got a kitten and she loved it, but it got run over. I just got the coolest puppy, and after a day or two my dog loves her. She seems a little better already. Is it just that she needs to dominate something?
Please help, as I would love to start having people over without worrying for their safety. Have fun, and thank you.
- Mark in Guilderland, N.Y.
Dear Mark: It seems like oftentimes it's the owners who need more training than the dogs, and in your case I think both of you need a little help.
First, for your simple problem. If your dog seems to have a back fetish and is destroying your blankets in the process, the only real solution is to keep the dog off your bed while you sleep.
The only other possible solution is to put some dog-repellent spray on your blankets.
As for your dog's aggression, part of the problem is with the breed - chows can be very assertive and dominating. And if you've been too forgiving when your dog misbehaves, you're contributing to the problem.
I suggest you work hard on socializing your dog, starting with introducing her to one person at a time then trying her out in group situations. An intensive training course also wouldn't be a bad idea.
Dear Matthew: I'm having lots of problems with my 7-month-old female boxer. She's gone through obedience training and always performed wonderfully when in class. However, home is a different story.
The biggest problem is one minute she'll be sweet as can be, and the next she'll be jumping at me, growling and trying to bite me.
Another habit she has picked up is barking for no apparent reason.
These are just a few of the big problems we're having. My husband and I try to work with her and walk her at night. I have a feeling part of the problem is that she's alone from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. - we both work.
- Joanne in Simi Valley, Calif.
Dear Joanne: You deserve credit for enrolling your dog in a training course, but you need to remember that the training shouldn't stop as soon as you bring your pet home from the expert.
Work on the techniques at home and keep at them! If need be, hire a trainer who will come into your house and help you.
Also, I'd recommend either coming home for lunch and giving your dog a walk - or hiring someone to do it for you.