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

Dear Lisa: Our Welsh Terrier is not your typical dog. I'm not sure where we went wrong, but when we take out the leash to go for a walk, she scuttles under the table and only hesitantly comes out after some gentle coaxing. We've had her since she was a couple of months old, and taken her to obedience training school where she did well. She comes, sits, lies down, and fetches. She even jumps through a hula hoop upon command! We are desperate for your assistance. We want to take her for walk more often, not only for her exercise but the whole family's. – Eagerly Waiting With Leash in Hand

Dear Eagerly: Your Welsh Terrier sounds adorable and on her way to being an obedience star with all that you have taught her so far. She seems like a quick learner so this problem is easily fixed. But first a little detective work might yield the cause of her behavior. Can you recall anything in her past that might have set her off about the leash? Perhaps a bad trip in the car that caused sickness or a trip to vet to get an unpleasant vaccine which she might have associated with the leash? Even without the knowledge of why this behavior began what you need to do is adjust it so that she won’t fear the leash. I don’t think going for a walk is something she is afraid of.

Loose the Leash
It appears that the leash is triggering her response to hide under the table. By training her to accept a different routine before going on that walk you might be able to get her to want to go on that walk. One of the easiest fixes would be to just pick her up prior to getting the leash. Once she is in your arms, go get the leash, attach it to her collar, and then give a yummy treat with much praise. Then put her on the floor near the door and away from the dreaded table and take her out for a walk. You can try getting a different leash and storing it in a different part of the house so she won’t know what you are going to get. Maybe use a harness versus a collar when you go for a walk, perhaps there is something that is irritating her neck when you pull on the collar with the leash. Trying a different routine each time you want to go on a walk will be very effective in breaking her habit of seeing you get the leash from the same location and her repeating the same behavior over and over again.

Dear Lisa: I have 2 Labrador Retrievers – 1 male and 1 female. Neither is fixed. My female is in her first heat and she is almost 1 year. What can I do to help my male to make it easier? He whines constantly, he is barely eating, and we have them separated and when we let him out he searches all over for her. Please any kind of help would be great. – Seasonal Woes

Dear Seasonal: Most pet owners do not realize what life is like living with intact pets since many opt to have them spayed or neutered because they don’t plan on breeding or showing. The most important thing to remember, which it appears you are doing, is keeping them separate while she is in season to prevent any unwanted litters. It’s important to note that estrus, which happens once to twice a year depending on the breed, lasts approximately 21 days so don’t allow them to play together too soon.

Separate Quarters
The main attraction for your male dog is the female’s scent, which because of her hormonal changes, makes her very attractive to the male. His whining, not eating and searching for her is very normal male behavior. So how can we minimize this for his and your comfort? I would try to separate them even more. Perhaps keep them on different levels of the house and using different entrances for each pet. For potty breaks I would keep them both on leashes and use the front yard for the male and the back yard for the female. This way the male won’t be sniffing out where she has gone to the bathroom, which will reduce his stress level somewhat. There are also some products on the market that can be applied to the female to reduce the effects of her scent on the male. Another option might be to have your male dog stay with a friend or relative for the duration. If you are not planning on breeding or showing her then having your female spayed would be the best option to keeping the peace in your home.

Dear Lisa: My husband just recently started playing the flute. When he hits the higher notes, our dachshund starts to howl and keeps howling! Is he in pain? What exactly is going on? My husband has taken to playing in the farthest corner of the house! – High Note Hound

Dear High Note: I don’t believe that your husband’s flute playing is causing your Dachshund any pain. It’s just an ancient canine response to those high notes. Read about why dogs howl here in a previous column and in the meantime let your dog and husband make beautiful music together!

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.