Dear Matthew: I adopted an adult Samoyed two years ago. He has a wonderful personality, and we have overcome some dominance issues and problems with his prior training. The problem is that, like most Samoyeds, he is stubborn and sometimes does not listen.
Is it possible to overcome his stubbornness, or should I just accept it? Is it realistic to expect a dog to respond to a command 100 percent of the time?Thanks for your help.
- Karen in Franklin, Mass.
Dear Karen: Wasn't it Abraham Lincoln who said you can make your dog obey some of his commands all of the time and all of his commands some of the time, but you can't make him obey all of his commands all of the time?
Perhaps not, but it is normal for any dog, in certain situations, to be distracted and fail to heed orders. When that's the case - assuming you have him on a leash - give the leash a firm tug and repeat the command. The key is to get your dog's attention, and I know that can sometimes be hard.
As for your specific Samoyed question, you're right - they can often be stubborn, difficult dogs to deal with. To adequately train him, you're going to have to be firm, authoritative and patient. Don't despair, however, if you stick to a training program and work through the days when it seems your dog will never learn, eventually even the stubbornest Samoyed will come around.
Dear Matthew: About eight months ago, my grandmother, who lives out on a farm about 45 minutes from my city apartment, gave me one of her cat's kittens as a present.
It's the cutest little thing, and I really enjoy having her around my home, but recently she's been leaving me little "gifts." By this, I mean she has been killing mice, birds and even large moths and leaving them in rather obvious places for me to find. And let me tell you, it's rather disconcerting to find an unidentifiable piece of some animal sitting on your pillow when you get home from a long day of work.
What on earth have I done to convince my kitten I want these sorts of things? And what can I do to get her to stop?
- Pam in Mobile, Ala.
Dear Pam: It sounds like your grandmother has given you a top-flight, highly trained mouser. Your kitten's mother is probably an expert mouser as well, and she passed along the family tradition to your pet before you took her home.
The easiest way to prevent your kitten from hunting mice and other critters is to keep her inside - it's also a smart thing to do if you want your cat to live a healthy, happy life. After all, if there are things outside that your cat can kill, there are also things that can kill your cat.
And if your really want to put a dent in your cat's hunting skills, buy her a bright collar and attach a jingling bell to it. Birds and mice will hear her coming from across the room and clear out before they're in danger.
Dear Matthew: Our 4-year-old Doberman-Shepherd cross has a recurring rash on his lower abdomen. He continues to lick and bother the sore areas. We have been applying a weak cortisone cream to the reddened areas, and this does seem to help a little.
The rash occurs every summer, when we visit our cottage. Could this be caused by mosquito bites or poison ivy? Our vet has advised us to just wash the area with soap and water. It is not a bacterial infection.
Thanks for your help.
- Marion in Winnipeg, Canada
Dear Marion: Your dog's rash could be due to any number of reasons. Bug bites are certainly one - have you seen any fleas or other insects in your dog's coat? Brushing up against irritating plants could be a cause, particularly if you let your dog run wild out in the woods.
Other possible explanations could be your dog has a heat rash, is allergic to something in your house or has an unbalanced diet. What I'd recommend doing is limiting your dog's unattended outdoor time until the rash goes away. Or, if the rash stays around, you know you can eliminate outdoor causes and start searching for other sources.
Continue treating your dog's skin condition the way your veterinarian recommended, and do a little detective work - you might just track down what's causing the problem.