I catch your column in the Allentown Morning Call. I found your column about basically taming your house cat very helpful. My parents are amazed at how our 10-year-old cat has been transformed over the last year. Who knew you could teach an old cat new tricks?
I am hoping you could help me with our very young standard poodle. I want to keep this question simple for now to see how things go. The dog seems to be afraid to stay outside and do his business. When he is in the house, he is a loving animal. When he goes outside, he becomes not so nice. Any advice?
– Stephen, Collegeville, Pennsylvania
I am not sure what your poodle is doing that is “not so nice,” but the key to fear or aggression is to identify and replace the negative behavior with a positive behavior. For dogs, that involves distraction, like training, and giving the dog a treat for staying calm in a situation. For example, if your dog is afraid of passing cars, then take him out when there are fewer cars, distract him with a toy when a car passes, and give him a treat. If it’s just a general fear of the outdoors, then stay outside with him to see if that helps or train or play with your dog when he is outside, so he is not thinking about his surroundings.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal