I'm Sam Litzinger back with Dr. Gary Weitzman, the chief executive officer of the Washington Animal Rescue League. We would like to know what's happening with your pets at 1--877-610-3647. Animalhouse@wamu.org is our email address. Again, the telephone number is 1-877-610-3647. The email address is email@example.com. Plus, guess the genus and species of our animal of -- oh, both. You could do one or the other. You don't have to do both...
That's a lot to ask.
….genus and species. Either or of our animal of the day at facebook.com/wamuanimalhouse. Now, Gary of course would get it right.
Unless it's a dog or something, you gotta make it a little challenging.
(laugh) Let's take a telephone call from Elizabeth. Elizabeth, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes. I have two dogs that are both intact and they are fighting for dominancy and I was trying to figure out how to correct the behavior without having to have them neutered.
Aah. Male -- I'm assuming we're talking male dogs here?
And what kind of dogs are they?
I have a standard Poodle Wizbang, and a ...
What's his name? I'm sorry. I didn't catch the name. What was his name again did you say, Elizabeth?
(laugh) That's a good dog name.
Okay. And what's the other one's name?
He's a Boston Terrier, you said?
Should I ask about Wizbang? How...
I think you gotta ask about that.
Elizabeth, why is the dog named Wizbang?
Actually, it's my nickname from childhood.
Good for you.
My brother could not say my name.
Oh, Elizabeth Wizbang. Okay. It's all kind of making sense, because kids say things like that.
They do. They do.
Okay. Anyway, I'm sorry.
And it stuck with you. (laugh) So now your poor Poodle.
All right. Now, help Elizabeth. Help Elizabeth. Are -- do we have...
Oh, two male dogs. Okay.
...two dogs fighting for dominance as she said.
Is that what's happening, do you think?
It sounds -- well, it certainly does sound like it, or they could just be fighting. You know, I mean, it's not always dominance, and we actually don't like to use the word dominance very much in animal behavior, because actually dog society is so much more complicated than that. For whatever reason, your two dogs are fighting. Have they always fought?
And how -- how -- okay. How old are they both?
Scooter is four...
...and Wizbang just turned a year of age.
Oh, okay. So he's just become an adult.
He just now became an adult, and so now he thinks he's king of the roost.
Yeah. And when do the incidents happen? I hope it's not all the time.
It's fairly frequent.
What's going on, Gary?
Yeah. Well, there's definitely something going on here, and it's not a good thing. So I...
Yeah. You think?
Yeah. (laugh) I think you already know that part. Well, first of all, is there any reason that you don't want to get them neutered, because while neutering won't help in every kind of dog/dog bad interaction, it can sometimes take a lot of this pressure off. And I don't think that it's gonna necessarily get a whole lot better. Is there a reason that you really don't want to neuter them?
The Boston Terrier is my daughter's stud dog.
Okay. So you can't neuter him. The problem is -- yes. You can definitely take care of this. It's gonna take a little bit of work, and sometimes the outcome is not good, and dogs can, no matter how much you put into it, dogs can decide otherwise, that they're just not gonna get along, in which case you have to do as much avoidance as possible. I mean, the best solution is not to have them together. If one of them is your daughter's, do you have to have the two dogs together?
She still lives with me at this time.
Oh, okay. So yes, you can't put her out and the dog. No. So if you...
It doesn't work that way.
No. No. That's good. But so I think if you can't do avoidance, the next best thing is you're gonna have to actually train them to tolerate each other, and a lot of that is to find out what actually are the signals that make Scooter set off -- it sounds like he's the aggressor?
He is sometimes, not always.
You know, it's -- okay. So both of them. They're just both not getting along.
Like this morning Scooter wanted to sit in my lap, and he was sitting in my lap, and Wizbang decided to attack him because he was jealous of the fact that Scooter was in my lap.
Yeah. You know, I'll tell you, it's really -- it's got a grim prognosis. There are things that you can do, but it's very difficult to get two dogs to get along. So if you can't avoid the situation, you're gonna have to find a way to keep the two dogs monitored and separate, you know, while you're trying to work them through this. And the bad thing is, now I think you're really seeing what Scooter's personality is like, you know, now that he is a full grown Boston Terrier, he's an adult, and he's actually feeling his oats.
So I think at this point, one of the best things is gonna be to actually get a trainer in and actually watch the interactions of the two dogs, and I don't think you should do a class, I think you should have somebody come to your home. And it's not, you know, people should not be daunted by that. It's really well worth it. Get somebody to your home to actually help you and show you how to sort of diffuse the situation without anybody getting hurt, you, your daughter, or the two dogs.
But it's gonna take a lot of work, and the sad thing is, really, you know, dogs are dogs, and in the end, it may not actually have a successful outcome. But I think your next best thing is to have somebody come to your house, have a trainer there for a private session with the two dogs and you.
Yeah. And it's lot of pairing, you know, their interaction with humans with something positive, and actually slowly getting the dogs together, but honestly, all it takes is that little switch to flip in their little heads and then you have Scooter attached to Wizbang again, and not in a good way.
Try that Elizabeth, and report back to us. By the way, where are you calling from?
Oh, okay. I thought I detected a slight accent from that part of the world.
Yeah. I have a...
Well, now, I used to lived in Bowling Green, and then I lived in Georgetown, Kentucky so...
So you heard Kentucky in there.
We're gonna have a party somewhere and get all the Kentucky residents back together. Thank you very much, Elizabeth.
Good luck with the boys.
Yeah. Thanks very much. Our telephone number is 1-877-610-3647. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's an email from Rima. "I have two littermates, Anthony and Cleopatra." Now, she doesn't say what they are. "They're six years old, they've always gotten along. Six months ago Cleo got locked in a closet and panicked. When we heard her and let her out, Tony viciously attacked her." Anthony, I guess that is.
"So we thought in her panic she started to smell different, so we gave them both baths." This is getting -- this is like a soap opera.
What's -- okay. Days of our whatever...
(laugh) Roman lives.
"Then we separated them and gradually reintroduced. She attacked him and started peeing on our bed. Our vet suggested Prozac, and with a few mild backslides, hissing and growling, it seems to be working." Okay. Here's the bottom line questions for this. Are we talking cats here?
We're talking cats, yeah.
Okay. Good. Thank you. I got to that point. "Will I have to keep her on Prozac forever?"
Oh, that's the question?
Prozac kitty forever...?
Yeah. No. You never...
...is the question.
We hope never to keep anybody on anything forever.
But it sounds as though -- so just to recap. So...
Yes. Cleo locked in the closet and panicked.
And panicked. So ever since that happened...
And then Tony viciously attacked her after she got out.
Because there was...
Cats are merciless, aren't they? (laugh)
You've already been traumatized, so now I'm going to attack you.
Because Rima thinks that maybe that somehow maybe Cleo started smelling different because she panicked or something.
Yeah. Probably not a smell, but, I mean, you never know.
It could be. I doubt that, but it's just a bad interaction, and maybe when Cleo got out of the closet, Cleo, you know, raised her paw or hissed at Anthony and...
Or Tony thought...
….it was a teleporter and that it was a different cat that came out of the closet.
A different cat. I've never seen that cat before.
But no. The answer to the question is no.
We hope never to put an animal on any of these psychological psychotropic drugs to actually make that a permanent situation. So Prozac for cats is really effective in a lot of situations. It could help for this. But the idea would be to work with her vet and get dosage once everything is calm down back to normal, get that dosage weaned off. But wean slowly. If you think about what those drugs do, we never want to stop them really abruptly because there's just a lot of really bad effects that can happen. So I would say talk to her vet and have that drug weaned slowly off once the cat is all stable and everybody's getting along.
1-877-610-3647 is our telephone number. Our email address is email@example.com. Let's take a phone call from Ruth. Ruth, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
I have a three-year-old standard Poodle, and he's a little bit fearful. He's also a rescue dog.
Good for you. What's his name by the way so we can refer to him?
His name is Ringo.
Ringo the standard Poodle.
I'm glad it's not Wizbang number two. Okay.
Did you reject John, Paul, and George?
Yes. We don't have them yet.
So it's just Ringo. And then what happens, which is the main problem is that my son takes piano lessons, and whenever the piano teacher comes over, he gets very scared and runs away from her and gets outside, and we can't get him in.
And what's magnified that is that now every afternoon he anticipates her arrival, and so if he gets out, we can't get him back in. I mean, it doesn't matter if it's raining, if it's 30 degrees, he won't come in.
Oh, because of the piano teacher?
Ringo has developed some kind of terrible aversion to the piano teacher.
Or the piano. (laugh)
Or the piano.
How is your son's piano playing? Maybe that's (laugh) his commentary on that.
Yeah. Maybe that's the question. Can your son actually play the piano okay, Ruth?
Yeah. It's pleasing, not to Ringo.
All right. Well, that's not the problem then, okay.
So what's going on here, Gary?
Is it -- is it only the piano teacher that this happens with?
He's a little bit fearful of other people...
...when they come into the house, but once they're, you know, once our other dog kind of accepts them, that they're visitors, then it's okay with him. But for whatever reason, we've never been able to acclimate him to the piano teacher.
That's so interesting. Does the piano teacher like dogs, or is there anything that you might see there that she's not showing?
I know she has a lot of cats.
So she probably has a...
...comes with a big cat smell. But...
Maybe that is part of it. It's interesting though. Most dogs acclimate to anything that's just a repetitive stimuli. So the piano teacher is there once a week I assume?
Once a week.
Okay. Well, here's what has to happen. Whether -- for whatever reason, Ringo doesn't like the piano teacher, and I assume the piano teacher wants to fix this situation because you're her client...
...and your son, and it's not good to have your dog run away every time the piano teacher comes over to teach your son. So what we do at the shelter is we often bring in dogs that have had some previous lives of trauma, you know, whether a puppy mill or a disaster rescue, something like that. And a lot of time they're not so really that thrilled about people, and we spend a lot of time reacclimating them to people or introducing them to people for the very first time, and that's done through, everybody knows, bribery. And with this situation I would say...
We're big on bribery.
We are huge on bribery. Big on having the piano teacher have some really fantastic treats at her disposal before she ever walks into the house, and start by just dropping them for the dog. Now, I don't think Ringo's gonna be thrilled about it for the first maybe 200 times that this happens. Chances are very high that eventually he will come to accept the piano teacher as a thing of beauty because food comes with her.
Now, is he food motivated at all? Yeah.
Not -- a little bit, but we've tried to give her treats and she'll drop them and...
Oh, Ringo's a girl?
No. No. I'm sorry. The piano teacher has tried...
Oh, tried to give...
...to give him treats and she's dropped them and, you know, she can't get anywhere near him...
...and then she'll even drop them on the floor and he won't eat them.
Okay. They have to be higher value than whatever she's using. I would say...
Little hot dogs.
That's good. That's good. Or, you know, little pieces of steak or whatever you can find.
So you need to cover the piano teacher in that Lady Gaga meat dress, it sounds like to me.
There we go. But the big thing too is just not a lot of contact. So no eye contact. Just drop the treat and just see if we can Ringo to be a little more accepting, but no eye contact and no reaching out, and no hand over the dog. There's a whole -- really a whole scope of what we do to get dogs used to people or accepting of people, and if you want, I would say, why don't you contact me at the Washington Animal Rescue League. I'll give you step-by-step instructions through our trainers because we actually have something that we can actually send you.
There's a protocol.
Right. A protocol for actually getting dogs used to people.
Because obviously we need to get them used to people or they don't get the leave, you know, leave the shelter, and that's our obvious goal, and they all leave, so we actually spend a lot of time working with dogs that really don't think people are the best thing in the world yet. And we change their minds, so the same thing can happen with your piano teacher, but it really does come to bribery and very, very important cues.
Do you think the fact that he was in a puppy mill until he was 12 weeks is -- that's the cause of this?
Sure. Well, until he was 12 weeks, that's very young, but yeah. Three months is a big social window, so that could certainly be part of it, but, you know, that's still a young dog. I think, you know, one of the things for you to do right now is make sure that you don't have a chance of your dog running away. So now, when the piano teacher comes over, keep the dog separate...
...until you can start to really coordinate this, really orchestrate this.
Thanks very much.
Yeah. Good luck.
That will be great. Thank you so much.
All right. Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Gary.
If brown is the new gray, what's the new black? This is Sandra Tsing-Loh with the Loh Down on Science and an update on Nordic Tawny Owls. Finnish researchers say they're changing colors. Why? Climate change. The owls naturally come in brown and gray. Color is inherited and brown is genetically dominant, so gray owls make grow owlets, but if Ma or Pa is brown, so too is the youngin'.
Brown owls have a harder time surviving blizzardy white winters, maybe because they're easier for predators to see. But in recent years, as winters have become warmer and less snowy, the owls have become browner. The scientists say it's natural selection in action. They studied nearly three decades of feather data at the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki. Brown owls used to make up less than one-third of the population now half..
As for owls with a touch of gray, the future is not so rosy. The scientists say warmer winters may bring doom for the paler varieties, and they'll take their gray feathers and genetic variability with them if they go. Oh, and we do give a hoot.
The Loh Down on Science online at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology and made possible by TIAA CREF.
This edition of "The Animal House" is almost complete. Before we depart, here's the answer for today's Critter Quiz. Earlier we asked if you knew how many species of owls there are in the world today. The answer? Approximately 225. Additionally, living owls are divided into two families, the typical owls and the barn owls. We're excited to welcome two new members to the "Animal House" family. Radio IQ which can be heard throughout Western Virginia, and KRCU 90.9 FM in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Thanks to our guests, Alexandra Horowitz, Denver Holt, Jon Katz and Darley Newman. We also thank Dr. Gary Weitzman, CEO of the Washington Animal Rescue League for his contributions today. Thanks to you for joining us in "The Animal House." I'm Sam Litzinger.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.