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Welcome to my advice column.  Remember, I am only a dog like you.  My opinions are to the best of my knowledge but are only opinions, researched or what I feel is correct..  The writer of this page is not responsible for any actions the reader may take as a result of reading this column.  If that is OK with you, keep reading.  If not, then go back and enjoy the other pages.You can address your questions to Hobo by email with the topic Hobo's Advice (click on my picture)
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Solving Problems

Over the past few months I have had a disturbing number of people emailing me and asking for advice on how to solve some serious behavior problems with their dog.  These range from biting, chewing, extreme nervousness to destroying the house while owners are absent.  In many cases there have been indications of other, medical, problems,  So I thought I would write a brief column on where to start when you have a problem with your best friend.  I am not going to try to solve these problems for you in this column, just try to help you identify where you should seek help.

First:  In most cases I have been able to determine that the dog had little or no training.  By training, I mean some sort of organized training with supervision by a professional trainer.  Some of the things that can be solved using obedience training include: jumping up, chewing, barking , pulling on leash, potty in the house.. and so on.  Obedience training is the best organized method of  establishing yourself as the boss or leader.  If you have a puppy, then enroll in a puppy kindergarten ( I always recommend this for all new puppies in the household.).  Older dogs can be trained as well, it is never too late.  Many socialization problems can be solved as well (both with other dogs and with humans.)

Second: Some examples of behavior problems that an Animal  Behaviorist treats includes phobias, fears, anxiety, aggression and Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors.  Canine Behaviorists should be certified, have a degree (preferably a masters degree) in a related area, and have experience.  You can ask your veterinarian for a referral.  Sometimes you can find this type of specialist working in a training facility - but be careful as some trainers ma not be qualified or have the essential credentials.  These experts may be expensive, but we have often heard of some wonderful results.

Third: Your veterinarian may be able to provide pharmacological treatment of behavior disorders, and in the diagnosis of unusual  physical ailments leading to behavior problems.  Simply put, there is often something physical that is causing pain, or creating emotional problems. For example, thyroid problems are often diagnosed and simple medication can bring your dog back to normal. Othertimes the chemical balance in the dog's system is upset by some disorder that needs to be treated right away.

Finally:  Use some good common sense.  You may be surprised how many times people write in saying that their dog is awful when it is something they (the human) is causing.  Hitting, biting, or screaming at your dog will not solve the problem.  A dog behaves like a dog.  For example, if you must leave your dog alone at home then put him/her in a crate with some toys.  Cover the crate if necessary to avoid sensory stimulation.  Make sure that you provide exercise.  Long walks, running and playing help reduce stress and tension and go a long way towards good health. 

Remember, your dog learns from experience, just like you do.  If you have a problem with your dog, get some qualified help.  Training will make both your lives more pleasant.