Ask the Dogfather

Ask the Dogfather

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Tom Shelby, who has trained dogs and their owners on Martha’s Vineyard and in New York City, answers readers’ questions about their problematic pooches....

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What happens when your pooch is pinned by an aggressive dog?

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Leo the bark, bark, barky dog

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My little Cavalier King Charles thought he was in heaven before he actually got there. He passed with his tail wagging furiously as he was devouring a chocolate bar when he got the sleep shot.

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I think it's great that Pancho wants to protect us, but I'm worried he can't tell the difference between real danger and play. How can I break him of this habit before someone gets seriously hurt?

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Can my 8-year-old Boston Terrier ever be trained to swim? He gets his paws wet, but he looks surprised and offended if a wavelet comes along and smacks him.

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Why couldn't it have been a Maremma (a breed you're unlikely to ever see on the Vineyard) or a Komondor, instead of a Lab. But alas, it was a Lab, and your poodle girl is likely to meet plenty more.

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Lena looks right at me and begins to chew the corner of the coffee table. Or the end of the piano. Also, she managed to bite off a small strip of rushing on the only genuine antique in the house. She has a varied doggy diet, with lots of munchies and the occasional pretend toothbrushing gimmick from Milkbone, so I can't think she lacks fiber.

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Terriers basically look in the mirror and see God.

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Did I mention that they also had an African Grey parrot? African Greys are smarter than dogs. The tape recorder picked up the parrot imitating the the sound of the bell and then, sounding like the husband, screaming at the poor dog for responding to the bell. The bird was having a great time manipulating and terrorizing the dog.