8 Frequently Asked Questions about Dogs

As a dog trainer and behavioral consultant, I talk to dog owners every day.

Since I appreciate people wanting to know more about their dogs, I answer many questions. Here are some I hear most often.

Why does my dog eat grass?

Dogs are carnivores (meat eaters) but also have omnivorous habits. Most canines will munch on some fruits, tubers, and other plant materials, including grass. The typical answer for grass eating is the dog has an upset stomach and vomit that contains grass seems to verify that. However, dogs eat grass for many reasons; the dog may be hungry, the grass may smell good, or the dog may be bored. There is no problem with your dog eating grass unless there is an increase in it that goes along with other health changes. If this happens, call your veterinarian.

Why does my dog’s urine burn my lawn?

The nitrogen in urine, as well as some salts and other substances, can burn grass. Although some dog owners feel a female dog’s urine is worse than a male’s, that’s not really true. What causes the female dog’s urine to burn the grass is because she squats and pees in one place while the boys tend to squirt a little here and there on vertical objects. There is no cure for grass burning; what works best is to teach your dog to relieve himself in one spot in the yard that can be covered in gravel, sand or mulch.

Do female dogs go through menopause?

Menopause consists of a number of changes in women, one of which is the cessation of monthly cycles. Female dogs will change as they age, but their biannual cycles (seasons) will continue unless she has been spayed. If she has not been spayed and you see a change in her seasons, including not having one when due, take her in to see the veterinarian.

My puppy chews on everything; why?

Without hands to manipulate their world, puppies use their mouth. They are curious, active, interested in everything, and often hungry. Unfortunately this can result in damage to your belongings and the potential for your puppy to eat and swallow dangerous items. The only way to prevent this is to restrict the puppy’s access to things that can hurt him as he grows and learns what is right to chew on (his toys) and what he should ignore.

Why does my dog eat cat feces? Yuck!

This is actually more normal than not. Cats have a short digestive system designed for eating meat. When cats consume a diet that contains other ingredients, especially when the food is sprayed with fats after manufacture so it’s palatable to the cat, the feces will also contain undigested fats. Plus, cat feces have an odor that attracts dogs. Although we find this disgusting, if your dog eats a piece of cat feces once in a while it’s no problem. However, if your dog raids the litterbox filled with clumping cat litter, and does so regularly, that litter can cause a major problem in your dog’s intestinal tract. It will clump, as it was designed to do, but will obstruct and damage the intestines. Make the litterbox inaccessible to your dog and if he gets into that litter, call your veterinarian.

My dog scoots his butt on the carpet; why?

There are many reasons why your dog may drag his butt across the carpet, floor, or grass. The first and most common reason is he has an itch that’s hard to reach. Perhaps there is something stuck there, like a small piece of feces, and dragging his butt gets rid of that. Parasites can cause itching, which can cause butt dragging. The anal glands on either side of the rectum can become inflamed, itchy or sore, and some dogs will scoot across the floor to relieve that discomfort. If your dog scoots once in a while, don’t worry about it. However, if he is persistent about it, talk to your veterinarian.

My male puppy doesn’t lift his leg; is something wrong?

Most male puppies tend to begin lifting their leg to urinate at some point during adolescence. This tends to be between nine and fourteen months for most dogs. However, some boys are more precocious than others and will do it earlier and while others will be later. There is no right or wrong. Some dog owners are happy their male dog doesn’t lift his leg as there is less chance for problem marking behaviors if he still puppy pees.

My dog barks at the delivery driver; it’s annoying!

Look at it from your dog’s point of view; the delivery driver and postal carrier come by regularly, stop at your house, drop stuff off, and while your dog barks furiously, they then drive away. Your dog is convinced he has won the battle; he’s driven away the trespasser; the intruder. Once this habit has become established it’s a tough one to change. Talk to your dog trainer for some suggestions.

If you have some questions about your dog, leave them in the comments!

Meet the Author: Liz Palika, CDT, CABC

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant as well as the founder and co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in northern San Diego county. Liz is also the founder of Love on a Leash therapy dogs; her dog, Bones, goes on visits on a regular basis. A prolific writer, Liz is also the author of more than 80 books. Many of her works have been nominated or won awards from a variety of organizations, including Dog Writers Association of America, San Diego Book Awards, the ASPCA, and others. Liz shares her home with three English Shepherds: Bones, Hero, and Seven, as well as one confident and bossy orange tabby cat, Kirk. To relax from work, or to take work on the road, Liz and her crew travel the West and PNW in their RV. If you see an RV on the road named "Travelin' Dogs", honk and say hi!

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