Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When your dog becomes aggressive

When your sweet little boy starts behaving like a mean old junkyard dog, it's time to consider neutering.

Aggression could result from a number of different things such as a new dog (or cat or other pet) entering the home (as a resident or visitor) or tresspassing within the broader boundaries of your dog's "territory", another person moving in, a complete change of residence or a bad experience that perhaps you are unaware of. Although dogs do have a natural instinct to protect their loved ones and their territory which neutering will not affect, aggression in a male dog that appears out of the blue when no real changes have occurred and no "threats" can be discerned may indicate it's time to look into having him neutered.

Neutering will make your male dog less aggressive, reduce their tendency to roam, make them less prone to marking the territory, and reduce their tendency to mount other dogs (and in our case, their big cushions!). Neutering will also reduce the risk of testicular tumors and prostate disease. It will not affect their inherent playfulness or friendliness.

Neutering also helps to keep down the pet population. If you haven't neutered your male dog because you plan on breeding him, think long and hard about your reasons for doing so. Is it purely for profit? If so, shame on you! There are other ways to make money. Is it because you want another dog that is sired by your male? If so, are you prepared to ensure that all the other puppies resulting from a litter are placed in good homes? Do you know the buyers or are you willing to check them out thoroughly to make sure the puppies aren't abused or become another homeless statistic?

Neutering is, as always, a personal choice. However, please read about it and talk to your vet about the pros and cons of this procedure so that you can make an informed decision.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Shih-Tzu Temper Tantrum

While we were away in California for two and a half weeks, my mother-in-law and my nephew were dog sitting. We thought it was the least stressful method of leaving the boys while we went on vacation. How wrong we were!

For the first two days, we were told they didn't budge from the door we left from, they cried and refused to eat or drink. On the third day they did start to take some water and a bit of food. By the end of the week they appeared to be "back to normal". Not...

During the second week they became the dogs from hell. They peed everywhere they could and pooped on the carpet. They never do this when we're at home, but they were angry that we were not around and all rules went out the door. They tore up their toys, bedding and blankets. They ripped up my plants, books and anything else they could access. As soon as my mother-in-law cleaned up their mess, they would mess again.

We came home at 3:00 in the morning and the last thing I wanted to do was clean, but I had no choice. I spent 1/2 an hour scrubbing the floors and using carpet cleaner on the rugs. I definitely am going to have to rip up the family room carpet and have it replaced. Flooring is looking like a good option. However, since we've been home they've been good as gold...no mess on the carpet, no mess in the kitchen.

So if you are planning to go on vacation and have a dog sitter, my advice is to cover your furniture with blankets you can wash and have a lot of carpet cleaner on hand...you're going to need it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Should you take your dogs on vacation?

As I sat outside enjoying yet another beautiful San Diego sunrise, I can't help but think about the little boys. Wouldn't they have loved a break from the harsh, cold winter?

We stay with our brother and sister-in-law who have a gated compound. I think of how the dogs would run their hearts out on the lush, green grass. How little Rocki, who we suspect is part pig, would be in his glory digging in the tropical foliage. How Bruiser, our little sun worshipper, would park himself by the pool and sun himself to his heart's content.

We have often toyed with bringing them but I have many reservations about putting them in a cage on a plane. My misgivings were given more weight when I saw a woman in the Minneapolis airport with her little white Maltese. The poor thing was so scared it shook as she dragged it on it's leash past the hordes of people in the security lineup. I read of a dog dying on one of the airlines and now they don't allow pets anymore. However, if we drove down here, we could bring them. Although to drive for four days there and four days back pretty much voids the concept of a two week vacation.

So for now, we must leave the boys at home. And for us, it's like leaving our children. If we came for six months we certainly would make the drive. However, the winning lottery ticket has so far eluded us. :-) So, we plan for the future...six months in Canada and six months in sunny SoCal with the boys.