Welcome back to "The Animal House." I'm Sam Litzinger with Dr. Gary Weitzman. You can call us. If you would like to do that we would like you to do that. 1-877-610-3647. If you have an animal-related question, you could send your question via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, the phone number is 877-610-3647. You could email email@example.com. Don't forget to visit our "Animal House" Facebook page to see animal news, videos, our Animal of the Day, all sorts of cool things there.
Let's take a telephone call from Nancy. Nancy, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes. I have a dog, a Huskita, a Husky-Akita mix.
This is actually so valuable for us (laugh) 'cause we're learning all these dog breeds.
I bet that's a -- what's the dog's name? And I bet it's adorable.
He is. His name's Griffin. He's gorgeous. He's got one brown eye and one blue eye.
Oh, there's the Husky.
And he's got a brindle coat. He's the kind of dog that I worry about 'cause he's too beautiful for his own good. (laugh)
He's a male model kind of dog.
Yeah, but does he know it? That's the question. Humans know it. Dogs don't always know it.
Is there a problem with Griffin?
Yes. We're on our third training as I speak. And…
So that doesn't sound good.
Pressure's on, Gary.
He's been through puppy training at Petsmart. He's a very sweet dog. I've socialized him. We've had him since he was four months old and he flew in from Nebraska. So he had some issues with loud noises and everything. I don't know if that was related to…
Wait a minute. Let me ask you though, how old is Griffin now?
He just turned three this month, April.
Okay. All right.
Anyway the third trainer is the first time it's one-on-one with him. And the problem is recall. We still cannot get the dog -- first dog I've ever had in my life -- to come unless he feels like it.
And she's moving towards, the trainer -- he does okay with the prong collar, but what I've been using is the halti. I have a second dog…
Thank you, good.
Yes. I've been using the halti and I have a double lead, you know. And I also have an acre fence. So he has his own dog park, plus we have a second dog, a Greyhound Ridgeback mix (word?).
A Gridgeback. We're gonna do it for you here. (laugh) Okay.
Yeah, she's either -- I've got it mixed up, I’m sorry. She's either a Lab and Greyhound or she's a Lab and Ridgeback.
It's not conclusive, but she's got double the (word?). Her name's Izzy. And so he actually took the lead a lot from Izzy. She's been the alpha in some aspects. And what happens occasionally with this halti, if it breaks lose then I have no control.
Right. So you want him to do what we all want our dogs to do, come when we call them.
And actually it's…
Never had a dog that didn't come when I called him ever.
You know, every now and then, even if you have a dog that does that, you know, there's temptations out there, but it's really important that we teach this basic command to our dogs because it can save their lives. So you're doing the right thing. You know what your dog does. But I'll tell you, the Akita part of the Huskita is listening to you, but the Husky part wants no part of this conversation.
(laugh) I want to be wild and free.
Oh, my gosh. You know we always say the Huskies, if you open up a fence, open up a gate, they're gone.
You know, it's just the way Huskies are. So I think what you have is a little bit of -- well, not schizophrenia exactly, but a little bit of…
…split personality. Part of Griffin wants to come when you call him, the other part wants to go back to Nebraska or farther.
So I can see the two angels sitting on his shoulders.
Oh, yeah, on the shoulders.
The devil on this shoulder and the angel on the other.
Mm-hmm, yeah, guess which angel's bigger?
Yeah, (laugh) so can you help?
Well, it's a hard thing, but yes. I think you've already -- it's funny, Nancy, you're calling. You've already been through what, how many, five trainers? So…
The problem is the third trainer that we're working with -- and there aren't really any other social issues. He toilet-trained early.
Oh, that's good. Okay.
He's a very good dog. He socializes well with other animals. He's not at all aggressive, which was my concern 'cause my husband (unintelligible).
Yeah, 'cause there's that Akita part.
Yeah, the Akita part. But the problem is this and the fact that she's moving towards -- well, we're not real comfortable with the prong collar. And that's not…
No. Please, we should tell everybody, that's not a good way to train your dog.
I was gonna ask about that. You're not a fan of that.
And I think she's moving toward an electric. Plus, she's been here twice and it's…
Oh, okay. Can we stop?
Oh, jeez, Nancy. You're just…
Wait a minute. Whoa, whoa, whoa.
I see Gary squirming in his seat over there now.
I think I'm jumping up and my arm's raised for the teacher.
Yeah, honestly, do not go with an electric collar. That is absolutely the worst way you can get this dog to start listening to you.
And he's a sweet dog.
Yeah, don't do it. And everybody out there listening that has an electric collar, don't use them, especially if you have a dog that's not listening or a reactive dog or a nervous dog. Which you don't have a nervous dog, but it's absolutely the worst way to train your dog. So those should be banned. Absolutely, irrefutably, no excuses, banned. I'm gonna give you two answers about teaching recall. One is that yes, you can do it. And you're probably doing it, you know, the right way with treats and all of that.
But the second part of the answer is it's really hard and it might not work. And it just really depends on how much your dog can focus. Did you tell us you've got a private trainer that's coming to your house?
She actually trains canines for the police. She's wonderful.
She's her own -- she worked with horses and she's got a wonderful repertoire. She's basically like a dog whisperer, but the problem is she's the one that's moving from the prong and suggesting this collar. And I'm thinking…
Plus, a lot of the time has not been hands on with us, it's been her showing us how wonderful she is with my dog.
Yeah, isn't that -- and that's good.
And he listens to her, right.
Which doesn't really help you that much. (laugh)
It just frustrates you because you can't get him to concentrate on you that way. Okay. And actually a lot of police and guard dog training is done in a non-positive way and it's done with electric collars or usually not that severe, but with something that's not as friendly or humane as I'd like it to be. So honestly, I just would entreat you not to go that route. Find a different trainer. She may be wonderful. She's gonna call in and complain. WAMU's gonna be swamped, but an electric collar is not the way to do this with this dog, in my opinion.
I would say you do need another home trainer, private one-on-one 'cause this is an important thing to teach your dog, but you need to find a different way with clicker training or something that will really be compelling to him. Keep in mind that it's not gonna be foolproof. You know there's gonna be times when you just can't get your dog's attention because they're dogs. And you got a Husky to boot. So that's the hard part.
But I think you should be able to do it. Now, going through step-by-step how to do it on the radio is probably not gonna work.
But it's all the things you've probably been shown already. Get their attention. You know, get a treat that they only get in this situation until you get a dog trained. You've got a really smart dog. So you ought to be able to get him to do it. But the third part -- so I said you can do this, it'll take some time. The second part is that it may not always work. But the third part is just keep in mind you've gotta keep him protected and don't go somewhere off leash that you don't think you can get your dog back.
I mean that's really it. And a lot of people, you know, Greyhounds you mentioned. A lot of people with Greyhounds know they can't let their Greyhound off leash. I always did 'cause I had that kind of a Greyhound twice. So I was lucky. But you just have to know don't go, you know, to let's see where? Where would you go? Don't go to the state park and in the woods let your dog go and a squirrel runs down from a tree and that's it, you know. That's the problem.
But I think you're gonna be able to -- yeah, they're hunting. And I think you'll be able to train this. I really do. Good treats, get a trainer in. I think it'll probably take you about three weeks, you know, not constantly, three weeks, but maybe once a week for three weeks. And you get the basic commands. I think you could probably write the textbook now yourself.
Well, age three, I mean just turning three, he's still in that window. He's still very young.
Oh, my gosh, yeah, absolutely. He's a young dog absolutely.
He's a very playful young dog.
Keep him safe, but get a positive trainer. Get a trainer that has the CPDT credential. And if anybody's looking for those trainers, just go online, CPDT.org.
Patience and persistence, Nancy. And report back to us in about a month after you've gone through this for awhile and give us an update on that. Thank you very much.
We didn't tell her anything that would help, but…
Well, maybe, you know…
I think maybe -- well, one thing that will help, obviously, is to get away from those collars that you don't want to use.
Oh, yeah, don't use electric collars.
That's not gonna help the situation very much, according to many experts, yourself included.
Good for you. Thanks. Our telephone number is 1-877-610-3647. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's take a telephone call from Christine. Christine, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes, I have a question. I made the monumental, impulsive mistake about five years ago of giving my parents a Shih Tzu puppy. They fell in love with her, but they never trained her. And now she is a spoiled, moody terrorizing…
But other than that, she has many good qualities? (laugh)
Yeah, she's cute.
Right. But she is -- like if she's asleep and you move, you know, you touch her, she will snap at you.
Oh, well, you know the phrase, the old saying, let sleeping dogs lie.
Yeah, it's true.
Yeah, now I get that. If you pet her a little bit too much and she's had enough, just like that kitty cat, you know, she will snap. So in other words, she's unpredictable.
My father kept saying to me, but if we have her trained it will change her personality. And I said, well, that's a good thing. (laugh)
Yeah, that's what we want.
We don't really like that part of her personality.
Well, so you want Gary to make the argument for training in this case?
Yes. And also what kind of a trainer? And I am ready and willing to pay for it. This was my situation, this was of my making, but I need to know how to fix it.
Oh, good one.
Well, first of all, I don't know if it's fixable. That's the truth. Because this is -- oh, we didn't even get her name? What's your pup's name?
Her name is Baby.
Boy, you just want people to really be disarmed. Go pet Baby.
And then get ready to run. Okay.
Yeah, then get ready to run. (laugh) Okay. It may not be fixable because this may be her temperament. And I'm assuming Baby's not like a rabid, you know, dog to everybody and reactive in every situation. It's just when her limit is crossed? Or is she just generally completely grumpy?
No. She, you know, when I come in she, you know, she will try to jump on me and everything. And she will turn over and let me rub her belly, etcetera, but it's just…
Really? But she'll nail you, too, so to speak?
Well, if I just keep going too much, you know.
It's like she's had her fill. And she barks at everything that moves, a squirrel, the mailman, etcetera. She's just totally out of control.
Okay. Well, I…
A spoiled brat.
Yeah, okay. So there's two different problems. One is that you have a Shih Tzu who has a limit to how much contact she's willing to tolerate. And that's the part that I think you may not be able to completely fix. You probably won't be able to completely fix. And you need to know that in case, you know, all of a sudden a school bus pulls up with, you know, 30 third-graders and they all go charging for Baby, thinking she's adorable, which I'm sure she is, and then this happens.
Yeah, that won't work out too well.
That won't work too well. So that's the first thing, to know that there may be limits for this pup. But the other part is should you get her trained? Yeah, absolutely. And at five years old you can certainly make a difference. And one thing is just to -- we don't like to use the word dominance, but an aspect of that does exist in dogs' little minds. And part of it is knowing that you're the verbal part and you're the person that -- you're air-traffic control for her behavior. (laugh)
And she needs to know that, but in a positive way. So I would tell you absolutely sign up for training. I think for you, 'cause you have a dog that's a little nippy, I would suggest a private trainer. And, you know, everybody out there listening, for heaven's sakes, you don't have to mortgage your house to get a private trainer. And it's well, well worth it. They are so valuable, it's incredible. But you definitely want a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, CPDT. And I think we've mentioned that about 11 times on the show.
And in your area you can just look them up under CPDT.org and find the ones that are just positive. And they'll come to your house, they'll meet you, you'll set up classes or reactive dog classes, whatever. But those are the ways. And I think you definitely wanna get Baby trained so that she knows where the commands should be coming from and not always from her little head.
And say one word to Christine's dad because he was concerned that the personality would change…
Oh, thank you.
…for the worse, I think.
Or she won't be the same dog. That's not going to be the case, right?
Training here is definitely going to be a good thing, right?
It'll be a good thing, absolutely. It'll change for the better. Unfortunately, Sam's right, the personality itself (laugh) may not change, but the behavior will.
And that’s what you're looking for.
Well, I should ask the -- it maybe should say Certified Pet and Dad Trainer.
There you go. (laugh) Well, that's a whole different kind of trainer.
Gary may open that business later on because there's a human factor in all of this as well.
There's a big human factor.
But tell your dad, Christine, that Gary said that this won't change the dog for the worse. It will only change the dog for the better. All right?
Well, thank you so much.
Let us know.
All right. Thank you very much. Dr. Gary Weitzman will return with answers to more questions later in the program. Our phone number is 1-877-610-3647.
This is "The Animal House" Dateline. I'm Steve Williams.
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Coming up we continue our conversation with Dr. Marty Becker in "The Animal House."
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