Q: My neighbor has two Welsh Corgis; when they are outside they do not stop barking. It’s a constant barking even though there is nothing out there to make them bark. I can’t go into my backyard without them barking at me. It is extremely annoying. I’ve tried talking to my neighbors but that did not work. I’ve researched the high-pitched dog whistle but reviews aren’t that good.
A: The problem with teaching a dog not to bark is that barking is a self-rewarding behavior. Whenever a dog barks something happens in return as a reward. Either a person or object goes away or gives the dog attention or drama. Any correction must be immediate and consistent or it will not work. Since your neighbors are not sympathetic to your situation, the only thing that will save your sanity is to put up a visual barrier between you and the dogs like one of those solid white hard plastic fences. (A wooden stockade fence will only work if the wooden slats are very close together so that the dogs cannot peak through into your yard.) The rule here is “out of sight, out of mind.” The fence will be expensive but your sanity is surely worth it.
Q: I have been feeding the wild birds this winter from a feeder that I hang from a branch of a dogwood tree in the middle of my yard. The problem is that some seed falls on the ground and is eaten by the birds there and one of the wretched cats that the obtuse cat lady that lives on my block allows to wander about the neighborhood keeps catching those birds. The tree is right in the middle of the yard and there is no cover for the cat to hide in for yards, but it is still able to rush to the birds fast enough to catch them. What can I legally do to fix this situation? Confronting the cat lady is pointless and a waste of time.
A: I cannot help you with your issues with your neighbor but this is an easy situation to fix, and perfectly legal. All you need to do is to buy a roll of chicken wire about 3 feet high and a pack of tomato stakes. Put the tomato stakes in the ground in a circle around the area under the bird feeder about 8 feet in diameter and then wrap the chicken wire around the tomato stake with some tie wraps. The structure does not have to be as strong as a fence that you would erect around a vegetable garden; it just needs to be a visual barrier. Now, when the cat rushes to the birds to grab one, it will have to stop the rush because of the fence. Even if the cat would jump over the fence, it still allows the little birds enough time to fly away no matter how engrossed in eating that they are. Such a fence may cost you as little as $20 and it saves the lives of the hungry birds and allows you to avoid any pointless confrontations with the cat lady.
Q: A year and a half ago we rescued an 8-year-old pug who lived her whole life in a cage, having puppies, and never walking on a leash or on grass. We were able to housebreak her in a few weeks’ time using treats as a reward. Recently she has begun pooping in the house. I have stuck to a regular walking schedule, and if she doesn’t go we take her out about every 30 minutes. Sometimes she goes, sometimes she doesn’t. When she doesn’t she will go in the house after coming in from a walk. This only happens in the morning, right before or immediately after eating her breakfast. Sometimes as soon as she is still chewing she is arching her back, ready to go and I have to run her right outside and she barely makes it out. We love this dog and want to give her the life that she deserves, but we are at our breaking point.
A: For eight years this poor dog never had to be concerned about where she pooped at all, so you are going to have to cut her a little slack in this department. But the situation can be manageable. The whole key to housetraining dogs is routine, routine and more routine. She will poop outside if she is forced to only poop there and not on the floor in your house. So it is your responsibility to be sure that she does not have the opportunity to poop in the house and the easiest way to do this is to set up a puppy training crate right by the door to outside. If you take her out to eliminate and she does not go then bring her in the house and put her in the crate. Do not let her loose in the house, then let her stay in the crate 15 minutes or so and then take her right back outside. She should poop right away then as it has been on her mind for the last few minutes.
If by some chance you do not get her out of the crate in time because you get distracted by a phone call or one of life’s other duties, then at least she will poop in the crate and not on the floor of the house.