Dog Training Basics to Prevent Fido From Being Left Out of the Group

Dear Poncho,

Help! We’ve had family staying with us all weekend, and our dog, Wiley, has had a hard time behaving. At the family’s request, when we go outside, we have to put him inside, in his crate. That’s because if we let him out when we go out to play, he jumps on and nips at us, the extended family, neighbors, the gardener and anyone else stopping by for a visit. When we are inside, Wiley must be sent outside in the yard.

Wiley is part of our family, and I want him to blend in and be able to play with us. When we try to ignore him by turning away, he jumps on our backs and also continues to nip. We just can’t have him doing that, especially to my 85-year-old dad or our 2-year-old granddaughter. We’ve tried lots of praise when he sits and we pet him, but then he jumps and nips. I hope you have some suggestions for us — we’re so frustrated, we’re happy to try anything you suggest!

Ellen (Wiley’s mom)

Dear Miss Ellen,

Sounds like Wiley is living up to his name — skilled and clever at getting what he wants. I’d be happy to offer some tips on how you can help your own inquisitive canine become part of the group, not left out in the cold.

Let’s talk about dogs and a few of the general behavior traits we possess: jumping to greet, having enormous amounts of energy (especially when we’re young or haven’t burned off the excess energy), using our mouths to explore the world, wanting attention (positive or negative), preferring to be around people than alone and always game for a good time.

Hmm, yep, sounds like Wiley is a full-blown canine extraordinaire! My first tip is to understand these characteristics and appreciate Wiley for who he is — a dog who loves people of all ages and wants to spend time with his family.

Continue Reading “Dog Training Basics to Prevent Fido From Being Left Out of the Group”

Dangerous Outcome Could Come to Tomato Loving Labrador

My trusty sidekick Poncho and I received a dog behavior question for Dear Inquisitive Canine column about a fun-loving lab mix that enjoys eating all of the homegrown tomatoes in his yard. The dog guardian who wrote in was a little annoyed with this hunting activity, I believe more so because she didn’t have any to eat herself! Hmm, that would be annoying – especially when you’re craving fresh tomatoes for your evening meal, and there aren’t any left!

I addressed this inquisitive dog guardian by outlining key management steps such as: Sturdier fencing, barricades, and yard location that would deter (and protect) her dog, while protecting the plants and her morsels of deliciousness. I also included some simple dog training tips including:
  • Rewarding her dog whenever he ignored the plants
  • Encouraging her to provide other enrichment activities that would redirect him away from the plants, while allowing him to “hunt”. Something along the lines of a scavenger hunt for his kibble, or a tomato/kibble stuffed food toy would be fantastic.

Along with the above management and training, there is something even more important about this tomato hunting dilemma: the tomato plant is toxic to dogs! (cats and horses too). The fruit seems to be fine for this dog to eat, and many other dogs, but the leaves and plant itself have been know to cause many health problems.


According to the ASPCA, signs and symptoms of tomato plant toxicity include: Hypersalivation, inappetence, severe gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, drowsiness, CNS depression, confusion, behavioral change, weakness, dilated pupils, and slow heart rate. For more information on tomato plant toxicity, as well as other common poisonous plants, click here to access the ASPCA website.

To read the full post, please check out our Dear Inquisitive Canine dog behavior advice column – the tomato loving lab will be featured on November 13th 2009 on the Noozhawk website.