Ask a vet: dog-proofing your apartment, training your dog and more

Have a question or two about your furry pals? Pets Central’s veterinarian Dr. Pauline Taylor answers your questions.

Q. “How do I dog-proof my apartment?”

Consider why you want to dog proof your apartment. New pups should be trained for some time so they can learn what is good behavior and what is not—they simply have no idea.

Preventing the development of misbehavior is much easier than stopping established misdeeds! Training a dog to happily stay in a ‘cage’ or a ‘den’ when you are out is well worth the effort.  It keeps them safe as well as out of trouble.

Chewing, digging, scratching and inappropriate toileting are some of the major ‘crimes’ dogs commit especially when they are bored! Being starved of an enriched environment, lacking social play/mates or being endlessly left alone can lead to these unwanted behaviors.  

Q. “My dog keeps pulling on the lead when we go for walks. How do I stop this?” 

Pulling on the lead is a very unpleasant experience. Though easier to prevent by training when young, stopping pulling can still be achieved in an older dog.

Your dog needs to learn that the reward of walking forward only happens with a loose lead. If your dog pulls on the lead you must stop walking and wait for them to come back. It will take time and patience; rewarding your dog with treats when they come back will hasten the training process.

Head halters and harnesses can also be useful. These can be bought at most vet clinics or good pet stores but take care to fit them properly so not to cause damage.

 Q. “My dog breathes heavily for a long time after a run in the park, what should I do?” 

My recommendation is based on better being ‘safe than sorry’. Take your dog to your vet for a physical exam. This problem of ‘respiratory distress’ may be caused by something simple like your dog being unfit, or overweight, or the environment—it may be too warm for your dog to run around, or perhaps they are so excited by having playmates that play becomes excessive and they get ‘out of puff’.

On the other hand, there could be some underlying pathology going on which only your vet can detect after a full physical check-up. Your vet may recommend further tests if he or she suspects an internal problem.

Got a question for Dr. Pauline? Email editorial@hongkongliving.com

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