Q: My dog practically pulls my arm out of socket when I walk him and chokes himself. He doesn't listen when I yell at him and I tire myself out by pulling. What can I do?
A: It is important for all pet owners to realize that the number one reason for euthanasia is behavioral problems. It is best if owners start early in life with basic commands and socialization skills. A puppy "kindergarten" class is an excellent way to accomplish this. Later in life, it is equally important to utilize basic commands consistently, including: "sit," "stay," "come," "heel" and "down." If you don't know where to begin you are not alone. A basic behavior training class is the perfect place to help your dog learn good manners.
With regard to the specific behavior mentioned in this question, you'll do best to stay away from any negative reinforcements, including choke collars or electroshock devices. These will only perpetuate the behavior.
Any behavior problem is best mentioned to your veterinarian. He or she can suggest positive alternatives such as the Gentle Leader, a head halter designed to break dogs of the pulling habit quickly and painlessly. Don't hesitate to ask, that is what we are here for. After all, a well behaved pet is the best pet of all.
S. Minnier, DVM
A turtle tip-off
Q: I have a turtle that seems to swim tipped sideways. It seems hard for him to swim. His legs all seem to work fine. Why can't he stay level?
A: Imbalance in water is common when something inside the turtle is heavier on one side than the other. Most often it is a sign of a pneumonia that is worse in one lung than in the other. I would recommend you get your turtle to a veterinarian ASAP, as pneumonia can be very serious in turtles.
Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM
Prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 403, East Aurora, N.Y. 14052-0403. Sorry, personal replies cannot be provided.