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with Lisa Peterson
Lisa Peterson with Jinx
Lisa Peterson with her Norwegian Elkhound Linx.

Dear Lisa: My daughter recently acquired a three-year-old Whippet from a former owner. He had never had much attention, though he was certainly well cared for. He's very sweet, but so clingy he drives her nuts. He jumps up when she gets up from the couch, follows her every step, and if she scolds him for anything at all, he just dissolves into a puddle of remorse. What is the best way to build his self-confidence? She loves him very much but really doesn't like being joined at the hip 24/7. She has had him for six months or so and we don't see any improvement so far. Is this obsessive behavior something she will just have to learn to live with? He's like a canine stalker! - Love Object's Mom

Dear LOM: Whippets are incredibly loving animals and really do like to hang with their people so this behavior is not out of the ordinary. I wouldn’t call this obsessive behavior as I know many a dog owner who would be thrilled to have a canine companion so adoring and following. Let’s look at what your daughter can do to make this work for both of them.

Getting Started on Solutions
I would start with ceasing the scolding. I don’t know what this pet is doing to be scolded but have your daughter move away from punishment towards building confidence through positive reinforcement of the behavior you want. Have your daughter enroll the Whippet in an obedience class to learn training techniques to achieve this. Teaching simple exercises like sit and stay and the good rewards that follow will begin to instill confidence in the dog and build a better relationship with your daughter. She might even find that having such an attention devoted dog will make training that much easier and enhance her relationship. She needs to remember that her pet will look to her for direction so she needs to provide it in fun, happy ways. I would also consider crate training the dog so the daughter can have some quiet time to herself. Start feeding the dog in the crate so she associates it with good things. By letting her sleep there during the day for an hour or two as well may give your daughter the needed space to have a more relaxed relationship. 

Dear Lisa: My parent's 7-year-old Westie loves to chase and eat bees, regardless of the fact that he gets stung on the tongue. First is there any particular reason for this? And second do we try to stop it, or just accept the fact that he wants to eat bees? – Baffled About Buzzing 

Dear Baffled: I’ve known many dogs, including some of my own, that love to snap at bees as the buzz by. Your Westie may be intrigued by the sound but more than likely it’s the quick movements of the darting insect that attracts this vermin hunting breed to chase after it. Since your dog is seven years old it appears that he has not had an allergic reaction so far, but I would keep an eye on him regardless if you know he’s been stung by a bee. Signs to look for that might indicate a bee sting include swelling of the tongue, or even swelling of the head in certain areas. I had a dog once that bit a bee and her whole head swelled to the point where her eyes closed shut. A quick trip to the vet and a little anti-histamine as prescribed by vet took care of it.

At this point in the dog’s life I see no reason to try and discourage him, but if you walk him on a leash and you see some bees in the area, just turn around in the opposite directions and take his mind off the buzzing.

Bark Back ~

More reader comments on nesting behavior discussed in the August column:

Dear Lisa: You may want to suggest that the owner of the Boston that is nesting to give the dog a bed with a blanket. Bostons tend to like the doughnut type beds and since this little one is digging I would also add a soft fleece blanket that they can cuddle up with. Sometimes, just putting a blanket down on the sofa or the car seat will give this little one just what they want, a blanket to make a soft bed. – from a Boston Breeder.

Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions we cannot offer individual responses. Read previous columns here.