Cheryl Smith
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Ask Away!

Cheryl Smith
This page awaits questions from visitors to this site. Use this form to send your questions to Cheryl, and she'll email you an answer.

Occasionally, Cheryl will post interesting questions and the answers to this page.

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Here are answers to questions that Cheryl has received:

Question: How can we stop our 2 dogs (labs) from digging up the yard? Our back yard is all full of holes. I am just beside myself because I don't know what to do.

Answer: As I note in my book, Dog Friendly Gardens, it's far easier to compromise than to try and stop behavior. So I would suggest that you provide your dogs with a large digging pit, where it is not only acceptable to dig, but digging is encouraged. To help them learn to use the pit, bury treats and toys in it and take them to the pit with you and dig up some treats and give them to the dogs. Supervise when the dogs are in the yard. Praise any digging in the pit (keep it stocked with treats for the first few weeks) and if the dogs start to dig anywhere else, interrupt them, and run with them to the pit and help them dig up some treats. If you need more detailed instructions, please see the book.

Question: How to deskunk a dog? My dog got sprayed by a skunk. How do I take the smell away?

Answer: The best formula I've heard is
1 quart hydrogen peroxide (as you buy it in the store)
cup baking soda
1 tsp liquid dishwashing soap

Mix in a closed container. Pour on the dog, being sure you don't get any in the eyes, and leave for 5 minutes before rinsing off. If the smell is really bad, you might have to repeat the process. Do not mix or try to store in a close container, as the mixture could explode.

Question: My dog has been chewing at her tail. I have checked her for fleas and traces of fleas, however, nothing there. I bought the hot spot treatment because she has bitten a spot on her tail down to skin. She will not leave her tail alone. Can you give a clue as to what else this may be?

Answer: Other common causes for chewing include environmental allergies (allergic to grasses, rugs, cleaners used on floor surfaces, etc.) or inhalant allergies (similar to human hayfever). These don't usually manifest as chewing at the base of the tail - that's usually a really strong indicator of fleas. Do you use one of the flea preventives on your dog? I know you said you saw no signs, but if you dog happens to be allergic to fleas, all it would take is one bite. Also, if she has made a hot spot, you probably should be visiting your veterinarian anyway, as they can be hard to clear up, and can get infected. Get one of the spot-on flea treatments while you're there.

Question: Can puppies get sick from eating snails in the yard?

Answer: It seems that puppies can get sick from eating almost anything. But mostly they just throw up, then go merrily about their business as if nothing has happened. Snails themselves are not toxic, but if the snails have eaten a dose of traditional snail bait, which uses metaldehyde to kill them, then the puppy could be in serious trouble. Too many dogs die of metaldehyde poisoning every year. To be safe, I would try to keep the puppy from eating snails as much as possible. Puppies shouldn't be left in the yard unattended, so that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Question: I always give dog food to my Lhasa Apso. However, he just suddenly doesn't want to eat that kind of food. I don't want to feed him table foods. I tried mixing rice with dog food and he only eats the rice. What do I do?

Answer: If he suddenly stopped wanting to eat the food when you started feeding from a new bag, I would take the food back to the store. There may be something wrong with it that your dog can sense. If that isn't the problem, then try changing brands of dog food. A step up in quality is never a bad idea - just realize that if you change to a more digestible food, your dog may require less of it to maintain normal weight.

Question: How much water should a puppy get a day? We are giving water at feeding time, three times a day. We were told if you leave a bowl of water all the time, they pee constantly. How do you prevent peeing when excited?

Answer: I don't think it's fair (or wise) not to let a puppy have water available. If you want to pick up the water a couple of hours before bedtime, that would be okay, but only offering water at mealtimes is asking for possible medical problems. Puppies will pee and poo fairly often anyway, just because their bowels can't hold onto anything for very long, so you are not really helping your housetraining. Please let your puppy have water.

Regarding peeing when excited, the majority of puppies grow out of it, and there isn't much you can do other than try and have exciting things (such as greeting a family member) happen outdoors or on easily cleanable surfaces.

Question: Was not aware that spayed/neutered dogs were not eligible for show participation. Is that true for obedience events as well? I have 3 chihuahuas and one female was spayed as I was told she would be very tiny (she turned out to be very big!).

Answer: In general, neutered/spayed dogs cannot compete in conformation competition (the "dog show"). They are free to compete in performance events such as obedience, agility, etc. Also, the United Kennel Club has special conformation classes for spayed/neutered dogs. So you still have plenty of options for competition. Have fun.