Patricia McConnell: "Love Has No Age Limit"
For most of us, bringing home a new puppy is exciting. Everything’s new and yet to be learned. But adopting an older dog can be just as fulfilling. And there can be advantages to a more mature dog-- fewer accidents, less chewing, and probably a better night’s sleep. But that doesn’t mean older dogs are without their challenges. They bring a history with them and sometimes bad habits. Animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell says those things can be tamed. Her new guidebook, “Love Has No Age Limit” walks owners through the process of adopting, training and bonding with an older dog.
adjunct associate professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and author.
Author Extra: Patricia McDonnell Answers Your Questions
Patricia McDonnell stayed after the show to answer a few more questions.
Q: We had a pet cocker spaniel named Sassy that lost her vision late in her life. OUr neighbors threatened to call animal control to take her away and "put her out of her misery" if we didn't put her down ourselves. After she accidentally walked off the porch, we started putting small stones around the border so that she could feel them with her feet and hear them fall off the edge which let her know she should back up and find the stairs which we used to spray with canned catnip for our cats but that probably also helped Sassy find where she could safely get down off of the porch. what are your tips for caring for a dog who has lost her vision? Is it ethical to consider euthanizing a pet simplly because of impaired vision?
- From Aubrey via Email
A: How tragic that someone would suggest putting down a dog just because she was blind! You are absolutely right that this disability does not
preclude her from having a wonderful life! (Just ask the American Foundation for the Blind). You’ve done exactly what you need to do…give her physical cues about her environment to help her manage. I would suggest being cautious about letting her outside without supervision though. Good luck, what a lucky girl!
Q: I have a 2 1/2 year-old mixed dog that I rescued after he was hit by a car. He seems to still lunge at cars driving by as well as chase anything that moves (bicycles, wagons, etc). What can I do about this? He seems to go into this place where he won't respond to me at all.
- From Melissa via Email
A: Dogs would profit by using what’s called a “Calming Cap” when they are in the car. It is sold through Premier now, but was developed by trainer Trish King for this very purpose. Dogs can see through them but it damps down the details and makes dogs less reactive.
Q: My husband and I have a 5 year-old black lab we adopted two years ago. He loves to play with other dogs and gets along with them well when off-leash, but does what we call the "lunge barking" towards other dogs when he is on leash. It sounds like he is going to tear them apart! He didn't do this when we first got them, but has been doing it for a little over a year. We have been working on diverting his attention and working on having him sit, but we have two questions: 1. Where does this behavior come from? and 2. Are there any other suggestions to help Brewster have better greattings with dogs on leash?
- Marci via Email
A: I had a dog who did exactly the same thing! It’s a common problem and has lots of good solutions. Most importantly, first teach Brewster to turn and look at you when you say "Watch." Do this when there are no other distractions so he can't lose. Gradually ask him to turn and look at you when he sees other dogs, only asking if the dog is far away, eventually asking when the dog is closer. I elaborate on this in The Feisty Fido...it has worked for thousands of dogs. Good luck!