Some dogs can become overly possessive of their “humans,” to the point of barking at and biting anyone who gets too close. This can cause problems in the household, but training and patience should ease the trouble.
DEAR JOAN: My dog is so territorial. He shows signs of aggression when my boyfriend comes to see me. He will not let him sit next to me.
How can I assure him that’s it’s OK? My Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix is a Valentine’s Day baby, born in 2016. I got him at 6 weeks old. He has separation anxiety and nurses on a fluffy pillow. Is that normal?
DEAR RHONDS: Pets that get attached strongly to one person will not easily let someone else share their human. It will take time and you might want to consider having a professional trainer get involved.
To DIY it, you want to first give your dog some training so he learns to listen and obey. Start with the down and stay command. Then, when your boyfriend comes over, get your dog’s attention and key to those training lessons.
While you work on the training, have your boyfriend spend time with your dog, just the two of them. When your boyfriend comes over, make sure he has a pocket full of treats, which he will dispense in return for good behavior.
This isn’t a quick-fix situation, but if you stick with it, you, your boyfriend, and your dog should have a happy future.
Pillow nursing is common in dogs that were weaned too early. When he does it, try distracting him.
DEAR JOAN: I have a 5-year-old female spayed Chihuahua who has dragon breath all day. She refuses Greenies and all hard tarter removing treats.
She’s had her teeth cleaned professionally twice! Any advice?
Lee Tydeman, Redding
DEAR LEE: Bad breath in dogs usually is a sign of dental disease, which can lead to serious health issues including kidney, liver, and heart disease. It’s important to keep those choppers clean.
You should be brushing her teeth as often as she’ll permit, but even two or three times a week can help. As the Chihuahua has a very small mouth, you might not be able to use even the smallest canine toothbrush. My Chihuahua simply won’t have it, but there are alternatives to an actual brush.
You can buy special canine toothpaste in flavors that dogs like, such as the liver. You can then use it with a bit of gauze to give the teeth and gums a good rub with your index finger. Fortunately, this is toothpaste they don’t have to spit out. My dog also likes “toothbrush wipes” that resemble baby wipes.
If none of those options work, then look for chew toys designed to help remove tartar and plaque. Feeding your dog apple or carrot snacks can help, too.
The other thing you want to do is look at your dog’s diet. Sometimes the food can either increase the halitosis or even cause it. Some people recommend mixing a little yogurt or coconut oil into the food or a splash of apple cider vinegar or a dental care additive into the water.
Doing all you can to keep your dog’s teeth and mouth as clean and healthy as possible is important, but realize that a regular deep cleaning under anesthesia, which has a risk, will be needed. Smaller dogs tend to have more issues with dental disease than larger dogs.
Be sure to talk to your vet about options.