Dear Matthew: We have a little rat terrier almost 1 year old that loves to go with us anywhere we want to go. He always wants to go with me in the car, but after riding about 5 minutes, he begins to pant heavily and gets jittery.
I have tried him with air conditioning or with the windows partially down for air, but it makes no difference. He still pants so hard it seems he will hypers-ventilate. He is always VERY ready to get out of the car, but the next time I go, he always rushes to get back in with me.I thought that it was probably nerves, but I can't understand why, if it makes him so nervous, he always wants to go again. Any suggestions?
- Glenda in Geff, Ill.
Dear Glenda: It sounds like your terrier really loves to spend time with you. In fact, he enjoys being in your company so much, he'll even put up with a dreaded car ride to be by your side.
Of course, once he's in the car with you, it's difficult for him to hide his fear and discomfort as he bumps and rolls about. Little trooper that he his, however, he'll jump right back in the car with you again, rather than be left behind.
So, what can you do to make his car time more comfortable? Fresh, cool air is certainly a first step. Another solution is to buy a carrying crate for your terrier, and put him inside it while you're driving. This will minimize the chance of him bouncing around too much when you take sharp turns.
Finally, it always helps if you have someone in the car with you to calm and comfort your dog while you travel. If no one is available, spend some time yourself relaxing your pet before you start moving. Get him used to being in there with you before you get busy driving.
Your dog may never be completely comfortable riding in your car, but as long as you keep the temperature comfortable and avoid injuring him, things should be OK. Just be happy he loves you so much he's willing to suffer a little to be with you.
Dear Matthew: What's the best way to keep my cat from running out the door as soon as I open it? Whenever I am entering or exiting my house, it always seems like my cat is lurking right around the hallway, waiting for a chance to make a break into the great out-doors.
Obviously, this is unacceptable. My cat is an indoor-only pet, and I don't want her outside, where she can get hurt or dirty. It seems whenever I open the door, I have to squeeze through, leaving only enough room for my body, so the cat won't slip around me. And if I have groceries or packages - well, you can just kiss the kitty goodbye.
So, what's the best answer? I need your sage advice!
- Martha in Salem, Ore.
Dear Martha: Recently, I discussed the best way to keep dogs from getting outside when they aren't supposed to. That involved using a leash with a corrective jerk and a "no" command. For cats, the technique is a little different.
A cat isn't going to respond well to a firm leash-tug, so you have to find some other way to let her know you disapprove. The best way to do this is with a quick shot of water from a squirt gun. Although this won't hurt the cat, it'll give her a good surprise and, given the average cat's sense of hygiene, she'll probably run off somewhere to lick herself clean.
Since this is a training technique, don't expect your cat to start behaving the way you want her to right away. Practice going to the door with your squirt gun and dousing your cat when she tries to make a break for it. With practice, your cat will learn that running out the door is the surest way of getting an unwanted shower.