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Ask Zena - Zena answersz your dog questionz

Ask Zena your dog-related questions

When Zena and her dog Zippy aren't going for walks, they're hard at work answering your dog-related questions.

Go ahead and submit your question today, and who knows - when Zena comes back from her walk she might just answer your question.

* The most recent questions are listed first *


Dear Zena,

My brother and I live in the same house, and we are both considering getting a dog. I have ordered a Golden Retriever and he is planning on doing the same. I have read that one should not have 2 puppies in the same house at the same time because they will become each other's companions instead of ours. Is getting two puppies at the same time a problem and what can I do about it?

Daryl (Pennsylvania, USA)



You have done your reading. It is not a good idea to get two puppies at the same time, as they are more likely to bond more closely to each other than to their human parents. This is especially true of puppies from the same litter. Adopting puppies two years apart seems to reduce the amount of tension between the dogs. When considering a second dog, it is best to add a dog of the opposite sex, although this is not always necessary. Spaying and neutering is very important, and neutering male dogs at a young age goes a long way to preventing aggression from developing.

It is always a good idea to gain a sense of knowledge about your breed and how well they get along with other dogs. The Golden Retriever is a breed that tends to be very social with both humans and dogs. Other breeds, for example some terriers can be especially possessive of their parents and will not take lightly to the introduction of an attention-grabbing puppy. Male dogs that meet the criteria of guard-dog temperament may not get along with other males. These can include such breeds as Akitas, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Shar-Peis, Weimaraners, Great Danes, and Mastiffs. It also depends on the individual personality of your dog. Some dogs just don't get along with other dogs no matter what their pedigree.

Hope that helps.

Sincerely Zena & Zippy



Dear Zena,

I am trying to train my two Basset Hound puppies to walk with a leash. They scream and fight the whole time we go for a walk. I want to keep them from digging my carpet and yard. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You.

Steve (California, USA)


Dear Steve,

Basset Hounds were developed to dig. Because of this genetic loading the behaviour is a strong and persistent desire. Whenever you see them digging, you can tell them "NO" or you can spray them with a water bottle, or throw a can full of coins near them (not at them). When they stop digging, reward them with praise and a toy or something appropriate to distract them. Busy dogs are less likely to dig, so taking them out to a park, or for a walk may help to curb this behaviour.

If possible, you could provide them with an appropriate designated area in your yard where they can dig. Being Basset Hounds, they would probably appreciate the opportunity. Any areas that you wish to keep Hound-free can be decorated with rocks and chicken wire to dissuade digging activities.

With your leash training attempts, make sure that you are rewarding your puppies for positive behaviour. When they walk nicely, praise them and offer them a small treat. It might be best if another person can help as you have two puppies. This requires patience and time, but keep working on it.

Remember when using treats to train, cut back on their food at meal time. Basset Hounds are particularly prone to being overweight.

* Just a side note. It is important when raising litter mates to ensure that they both bond to their human family members. Litter mates have the tendency to bond to each other more closely and therefore often continue to demonstrate more of their doggy behaviour.

Hope this helps.

Sincerely Zena & Zippy



Dear Zena,

My dog does not like to have his feet touched. Even when he "shakes hands," he barely taps my hand. Now, when someone comes close to his paws, he runs away. What can I do about this?

J. Lyons (Georgia, USA)


Dear J. Lyons,

This is a common behaviour among dogs and it becomes a larger problem if they require having their toenails clipped.

Dr. Stanley Coren suggests that you practise very slowly with your dog. Have a tasty treat handy and slowly begin touching one paw. Speak calmly and reassuringly to your dog while you do this - "Good boy, it's okay." Once you have handled his one paw for a brief period of time, give him his treat and make a big deal about it. You could do this several times a day touching the same paw. The next day you could move on to a new paw. This takes time, and requires a great deal of trust from your dog and patience from you.

Hope this helps,

Sincerely Zena & Zippy



Dear Zena,

My Beagle has recently started eating cat and dog poop. I clean the backyard the best that I can, however it is easy to miss a pile with our bark, mulch, etc. I need to know how to stop him from doing this behaviour.


Anonomous (Lake Mary Florida)


Dear Anonomous,

As can be expected, this symptom is particularly disturbing for doggy parents. The ingestion of fecal matter, coprophagia, is a behaviour that is yet to be truly understood.

Some vets believe that dogs' highly sensitive sense of smell lures them to some of the most unusual and often disgusting odours. Others believe that dogs will consume their own feces because they may have a digestive disorder or some sort of nutrient deficiency.

The book "Dogs: The Ultimate Care Guide" suggests adding digestive enzymes to the food to ensure that your dog is thoroughly digesting his food. Pancreatic enzymes may be available through your vet or possibly over the counter.

Make sure that you are feeding a high quality food to ensure that your dog is getting all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients his body requires.

You could try increasing his access to chew toys or bones or something to keep him busy. Extra exercise, play sessions, and close supervision may all help to keep his nasty behaviour under control if he is doing this because he is bored.

If this is purely a behavioural problem, you need to continue to try your best to remove all access to feces. Most dogs enjoy seeking out and consuming cat feces possibly because of the high protein composition found in cat food. For this reason, you have to make sure that only your cat has access to the litter box.

One of my Giant Schnauzers makes special trips downstairs to see if one of her feline brothers has left a treat for her outside of the box. A disgusting and frustrating habit indeed!!

Hope this helps,

Sincerely Zena & Zippy


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