AC, by email
This is reminiscent of the “Fenton” YouTube hit in Richmond Park a
few weeks ago. The trick when teaching the “recall” command is
that coming back to the owner needs to result in a better outcome than not
coming back. Food treats, toys or attention usually do the trick, but in
your case, it’s difficult to compete with the utter ecstasy of sniffing.
Perhaps some sort of high–smelling food treat might do the trick.
Start by training him to come back in the house at a short distance, when
there are no distractions. Gradually increase the distance. Next, go back to
shorter distances, with mild distractions (toys that he doesn’t like much).
Move up to serious distractions (his favourite toys or food). When he comes
back consistently, move outside, starting with a Tarmac area where there are
Repeat, repeat, repeat, and he will gradually get more reliable. If visiting a
highscent area, do some recalls before he has a chance to start sniffing,
then release him on a long leash to let him get the sniffing out of his
system. Do more recalls after that. Accept that he loves sniffing: he should
be allowed to enjoy this. Never use your recall word when you know he won’t
My three–year–old Westie adores fruit, especially oranges and fresh
pineapple. He can smell them from the next room. We only give him one or two
small pieces. It does not appear to cause any upsets, but can you confirm
that it’s safe for us to do this?
JD, by email
It’s safe to feed dogs most types of fruit and vegetables, as long as you
don’t cause a gastric upset with very large amounts. There are three notable
exceptions. First, never feed grapes (or raisins), which have been
associated with sporadic instances of fatal renal failure. Second, be
careful with fruit with stones (such as peaches), as if these are swallowed,
they commonly cause intestinal obstructions. And third, avoid onions or
large amounts of garlic, since these can cause a type of anaemia. The small
amounts of garlic used for flavouring food are safe, as are garlic
supplements marketed for dogs.
Our 16–year–old cat has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. We’ve decided
not to treat her as she’s a sweet nervous little thing who would be stressed
by any operation, injections or daily tablets. Is there anything else we can
do to help her, such as pheromone sprays? She’s losing weight and seems more
excited than ever, yowling loudly for food, even when it’s there in front of
MG by email
Hyperthyroidism is caused by excessive thyroid hormone production due to a
tumour on the thyroid gland. Conventional treatments are highly effective.
The weight loss, excitability and vocalisation are typical signs, and no
alternative approach will sort them; without proper help, she’ll deteriorate
rapidly and will need to be put down.
Treatment may not be as stressful as you fear; you have three choices. Surgery
involves one day at the vet clinic, and often provides a permanent cure. A
one–off course of radiation treatment is a second option, but it’s pricier.
Long–term daily tablets are an effective third choice. Once you’ve been taught
how to give these efficiently, most cats accept them as part of the routine
without too much fuss. My parents’ cat was 17 when she developed this
problem. She had the operation, and went on to have another five years of
Pet portraits for Christmas?
If you want a simple present for a pet lover this Christmas, what about a
photo? The UK’s largest portrait photography company, Venture Photography,
took photos of nearly 4,000 pets this year, up 20 per cent on previous
years. If professional photography is beyond your budget, it’s never been
easier to do it yourself. Dog Photography for Dummies (wiley.com, £16.99) is
full of tips, from tweaking your camera to training your dog to say cheese.
- This week’s rescue animal is a crossbred lurcher from Yorkshire called Elton.
To find out more, visit telegraph.co.uk/family/pets
- Read Pete’s regular animal themed blog at here
- Send pet problems to pete. email@example.com. We regret that he
cannot answer all letters personally. All sick animals should, of
course, be taken to a vet