Canine Behaviour Advice
My dog, Sid, has a habit of licking people’s hands while they’re stroking him.
Sometimes if I fall asleep on the sofa, I am awoken by Sid licking my face. How do I stop it?
Laura, 25, from Petts Wood
Dogs that excessively lick can be a common problem for owners, writes animal behaviour expert and lecturer Sophie Marriott of canine behaviour consultancy Endless Pawsibilities.
It is often regarded as a sign of affection and is thought to release endorphins. Endorphins create a pleasant and comforting feeling, which may be why this behaviour has become persistent. As Sid is licking while being petted this causes the behaviour to be reinforced. Some owners make the mistake of stroking their dog, in an attempt to stop the licking.
However this will only tell your dog that if he repeats this action, he will be rewarded. Once the stroking stops, your dog may begin to lick until you to pet him again, creating a cycle. In order to stop it, Sid can no longer be allowed to lick anyone. Once the behaviour occurs that person needs to stand up and move away from him. Clearly showing him that he will receive no attention for this behaviour. If you are petting Sid and he begins to lick, stop stroking immediately and move away.
"Our bichons eat dog poo - theirs and other dogs'. We have two that are 10 years old. We tried various methods to stop them since they were puppies.
"They are often ill when they eat it and it is not always easy to clear it up before they get to it and we can’t let them off their leads, which is a shame."
The clinical term for this is Coprophagia and it is not an uncommon behaviour, writes animal behaviour expert Sophie Marriott of canine behaviour consultancy Endless Pawsibilities.
Some dogs might do it due to abnormal levels of nutrients, so please discuss this with your vet. If no medical cause can be identified it would indicate a behavioural problem.
Keep the dogs on lead and allow them to approach some faeces.
Before they are able to get close enough to eat it, give a firm no and take the dog away, then reward with a treat.
This will reinforce that if they do not carry out the behaviour they get rewarded. You can also use aversion techniques such as a citronella collar.
Dietary changes can be successful; a highly digestible diet should be fed (eggs, chicken, rice and fish).
Most dogs appear to prefer consuming well formed faeces so adding vegetable oil to the diet will produce a less formed and therefore less appealing stool.
Adding pineapple to their diet can prevent this behaviour (consult with your vet before adding to their diets).
As this behaviour has continued for a long time, I would recommend that you seek professional assistance.
“My dog suffers with separation anxiety. When I leave the house he urinates, even if he has recently been let out. I can’t even pop to the shop without coming home to the stench of urine.
“Even though I have been using bleach to clean the house it still smells and I’m reluctant to let people in my house.”
Separation anxiety can be very distressing for both owner and dog, writes Bromley-based animal behaviour expert Sophie Marriott of canine behaviour consultancy Endless Pawsibilities.
It is important that you do not give the dog any cues when you are leaving the house, like going out of sight to put your shoes on.
You may benefit from purchasing a product called Adaptil, it’s an appeasing pheromone designed to relax dogs. However your vet may recommend medical intervention.
It is important that you do ‘practice exits’. This will prevent the dog from anticipating you leaving, therefore reducing the anxiety and stress.
Consider leaving the radio on to help mask your comings and goings and to stop the sound of silence in the house.
Get into a routine of keeping your dog well exercised, as this will drain his energy, which may otherwise be used to destroy the house.
When you practice entering and exiting the house, you should do so calmly, not looking at the dog or creating a fuss.
And stop using bleach as a cleaner. The ammonia in it only encourages the dog to wee more.
I would advise seeking the assistance of a behaviourist on this issue.
Should it be illegal to ever leave a dog alone in a car?
As a nation of dog lovers, many people take their dog with them everywhere, writes Sophie Marriott of canine behaviour consultancy Endless Pawsibilities.
This includes travelling in the car. With increased reports of incidents where dogs are dying in hot cars, we ask would you ever leave your pet in the car unattended?
Earlier this month, a dog was found alone in a locked car at Bluewater. It was believed to have been there for around two hours before help arrived.
The police were called and owners located and fortunately the dog was fine.
It can only take 15 minutes for a dog to die in a hot car, regardless.
The RSPCA says that when it is 22 degrees outside, inside a car can reach 47 within an hour.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is an offence to cause pain and suffering to an animal.
Do you think it should be made illegal to leave dogs in cars unattended, full stop?
Yes!: 58% It's OK for a short period: 24% It's fine if the window's open: 5% No.: 14%