Weekly canine Q&A, with advice on dogs and winter coats and puppy training.
Dear Dog Lady,
The same day that your column appeared in my paper, there was another advice column addressing winter coats for dogs. The response to the reader was that some breeds do need winter coats (e.g., Italian greyhounds) and other breeds, such as huskies, do not. She also said most other breeds fall in between somewhere and that it was up to the owner to decide if the dog needed a coat or sweatshirt. I recall several columns ago that a reader asked you if clothes were necessary for dogs, to which you replied "no.” I have pugs, so I'm very careful when the weather turns (both hot and cold) but I typically don't put any additional covering on them if they are just going out to go potty. Because I consider you an authority on this subject, and the other columnist I do not, I am wondering what your opinion is of this recommendation.
A: The official “Ask Dog Lady” opinion is that dogs are happy nudists. They've lived for hundreds, nay thousands, of years subsisting on raw meat and raw elements. We humans domesticated them to live in our homes, sleep in our beds, eat our leftovers and – drum roll please -- not wear our clothes.
Clothes on dogs are all about the human not the dog – except for booties on winter salt and snow. Sure, maybe we feel better when we clothe Italian greyhounds or Yorkshire terriers or pugs because they're smaller and more vulnerable to the cold. Certainly, in a blizzard or minus-minus wind chill, these dogs should be protected and never left outside. Coat or no coat, a well-protected dog of any size will not expire of hypothermia when the human provides comfort and warmth.
Ever see a dog struggling to shed a coat or sweater? They rankle under the constriction of clothing, which is Dog Lady’s biggest gripe about clothes for dogs. A coat on top of natural hair or fur feels unnatural to them. Although there are lovely outfits for pugs, the rags are not required.
Dear Dog Lady,
I adopted a 6-year-old beagle from an animal shelter about five months ago. He has been a great addition to my city home. His personality has changed so much since I got him. He has learned to play and gets along well with other dogs. He had been urinating in the house but with a little training, he has greatly improved, as long as I can catch him in the act.
What can I do to stop the excessive chewing and put an end to his house potty habits so that I don't have to worry about what he's doing every time I turn my back? I hope you can help.
A: Let’s call your shelter beagle Rudolph because you don’t give him a name. He’s not a reindeer or an elf; he’s a dog, which is the point exactly.
Rudolph is a dog for all dogs. He chews a little too much. He splatters indiscretion indoors from time to time. But he is peaceful in his cage (or crate), makes nice with his own kind, and has greatly improved your life in the city. Does it get any better?
He’s a dog, after all, and he’ll stumble before he flies into the night delivering magic. Go easy on this guy, especially in the spirit of the season. He’s made good progress.
Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook. Write your questions or send to firstname.lastname@example.org.