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March Q & A: Hot Sauce & Obedience School For The Older Dog

Question: Obedience Through Hot Sauce?

“I’ve heard that pouring hot sauce on a piece of meat will teach a dog to ignore any food found lying on the ground. Is this practice of obedience acceptable? And is it safe?”

Answer:

No! and No! Any trainer advocating that method had better go back to school. It may teach a dog to avoid a piece of meat that has first been laced with hot sauce, but a person bent on teaching a dog to avoid something with scolding hot sauce does not have positive dog training in the forefront of his or her mind.

Question: Too Old For Training?

“My dog is thirteen years old, quite healthy, with no obvious physical defects. I was refused enrollment in an obedience class by a woman trainer who said that a thirteen-year-old dog couldn’t be trained. This trainer is quite well known and has authored several books. I simply cannot accept the fact that thirteen calendar years is a criteria for training. What do you think?”

Answer:

The best thing that I can recommend is that you enroll your dog in a class with a trainer that will accept a thirteen-year-old. If your dog is healthy and happy, I can see no better token of your love for the dog – and his for you – than to enroll together in an obedience class. In my opinion, a dog is never too old to learn.

Question: Scared Of Thunder Storms

“My friend recently gave me her six-year-old German Shepherd male. She wanted to get rid of him because he is so terrified of thunderstorms that he tears down the door of the house to get in. She says that she has replaced three doors because of him. He seems to be getting worse with age instead of better. Is there any way to help him overcome his fear of storms?”

Answer:

The best way you can help is to open the door and let the poor guy in! His fear of thunder is as real as a human phobia of heights or closed-in places. It’s a deep-seated neurotic syndrome that he’ll probably live with until the day he dies.

Make life easier for him by allowing him to come in the house and be with you during those thunderstorms. You might be able to alleviate some of the fear by “conditioning” your dog. That is, follow each thunderous roll with a food reinforced “reward”.