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Ask Your Pet

by Jennifer Dickman

Dear Jennifer,

I’d like to ask you a question about how I’m handling my dog, French Fry. Frenchie is a black lab and they tend to act out.Sometimes I don’t know what to do and find myself yelling at him, pushing him out the door to the yard and slamming it, or calling him names. I don’t like myself when I do this but get overwhelmed with his behaviors, which include chewing furniture, "accidents" inside the house, chewing shoes, barking too much. I could go on. Is there a better way I could be handling him?


Dear Michael,

Black labs can certainly be interesting, and sadly shelters are full of them because people who have "quirky" ones have trouble working with their behaviors. But, as I can tell you already know, the way you’re handling French Fry is not only mean, but counter-productive. In general, animals respond better to positive reinforcement training. There are many web sites that explain this method.

In speaking with French Fry, he says that he is very anxious and the behaviors you consider bad stem from this problem. He does not go inside on purpose, but has accidents due to anxiety. (Always have your companion animal checked by a vet if they are having accidents or litter box issues.) The chewing is also an anxiety release for him. When you yell at French Fry or otherwise get angry at him, it makes the anxiety worse, and feeds his behaviors. You are both caught in a vicious cycle.

French Fry needs your help. He needs you to reassure him that you love him no matter what and understand what he’s going through. If he was my dog I would take him to a good holistic vet to address his anxiety issues. They may use things like flower essences, herbs, homeopathy, supplements, etc., and can also use allopathic drugs if necessary.

If you’re unable to find a holistic vet, I would immediately place French Fry on the "Anxiety" remedy from www.Green HopeEssences.com. There are also constructive things you can do. For example, there are products with a bitter taste available at pet stores that you can spray on things French Fry shouldn’t chew. Of course, make sure that you give him lots of things that it’s okay for him to chew, too. A Kong toy would be great for him. To address the accidents, which should decline with the Anxiety remedy and a change in your behavior towards him, you could consider getting one of those indoor "pee stations" available on many pet sites. They look like little putting greens and have an attractant so your dog will pee there and a tray underneath you can empty.

And, of course, a trainer who practices positive reinforcement would be a great help. You’d probably only need a couple of sessions to get you on the right track. Right now, French Fry just needs a lot of love and patience and understanding.

Many Blessings,

Jennifer Dickman

Jennifer Dickman, Animal Communicator, Reiki Master-Teacher specializing in Animal Reiki, and Intuitive Counselor, conducts phone and email sessions worldwide. Contact: Jennifer_Dickman@ymail.com, 215-817-0833, or through her web site www.JenniferDickman.com , where her MP3 "Journey to Contact Your Animals in Spirit" is for sale. To subscribe to Jennifer’s newsletter and receive a free copy of her essay, "Five Things Your Cat or Dog Wants You to Know", email Jennifer with the word "Newsletter" in the subject line.

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