Q: How can I get my puppy to be more attached to me? She's a mixed breed we adopted two months ago from a shelter. She's 9 months old. It's not like she dislikes our family but she doesn't seem madly in love with us like other dogs have been. I don't see Daisy standing in front of a train to give her life for us. — D.H., Cyberspace
A: "Give the honeymoon more time," says dog trainer Victoria Schade, author "Bonding with Your Dog: A Trainer's Secrets for Building a Better Relationship." "Is the dog appreciating physical contact, or maybe you're making too much contact for this individual dog. I mean, you didn't even date first. Instead of trying too hard, let the dog come to you. And think about speaking softly and offering soft massages."
A great way to bond with a dog is an upbeat training class, adds Schade, of Bucks County, Pa.. You're having fun together and working for a common goal, even if that goal is simply walking without the pup pulling you. Speaking of fun, have a good time doing what your dog likes, be that playing fetch or pulling a wiggle toy.
"It's not likely, and unpopular to talk about, but it's possible you may not be the right family for Daisy," Schade adds. Some dogs can't tolerate young children. They may never be aggressive but they just don't like kids, no matter what you do. But, first, try to have fun, don't think too much, and give the relationship more time." My only additional advice: Be careful at train tracks.
Q: My 9-year-old Sheltie recently began to eat hymnals and novels. At first, I thought he was after the glue in the binding, but then Charley began to destroy sheet music. I took him to the vet to discuss the problem. The exam only revealed protein in Charley's urine. The vet didn't know what to do except give him steroids. Now, we've also caught our 4-year-old Sheltie in the act. Any advice? — C.W., Las Vegas
A: I doubt steroids would help much, and might not be a good idea given your dog's potential kidney problems. Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, chair of the behavior clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Mass., says the protein in the urine may indicate kidney disease, which may go hand-in-glove with anemia, which may cause the dog's indiscriminate appetite. Speak to your vet about the suspected kidney issue, and see if treatment for this problem lessens Charley's appetite for paper.
It's unclear if the problem occurs both when you're home and when you're away. If it crops up solely when you're gone, it's likely due to separation anxiety. It may be your younger dog is becoming anxious because Charley is anxious, or more likely, the younger dog is simply mimicking the behavior.
If the paper chewing occurs only when you're in the room, this could be an attention-seeking behavior. Dogs can sometimes be easily "trained" to do the strangest things just because we offer attention, even if that's only reprimanding the pet.
Dodman says other possibilities to consider are physical causes, including digestion or bowel issues, and rarely, seizures. If your dogs are actually ingesting the paper, both could develop a gastrointestinal obstruction, so do your best to keep paper out of reach.
This might be a problem for a veterinary behaviorist, http://www.dacvb.org or member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, http://www.avsabonline.org.
Q: I moved to Nevada from Illinois in July, bringing my 8-year-old cat with me. Rug never previously ventured outside, but he got out recently and is lost. I'm devastated. How can I best get the word out about my lost black cat? — S.S., North Las Vegas, Nev.
A: I received your e-mail about five days ago, and my hope is you've found your beloved cat. I also hope Rug is wearing an ID tag and is microchipped, which greatly enhances your chances of finding him. If Rug is chipped and also happens to be enrolled in the popular HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service (http://www.homeagain.com), call to report him lost and HomeAgain will issue alerts via email and the new HomeAgain iPhone app, which gets the word out to an army of volunteers nationwide.
Sadly, your situation is proof that indoor-only cats do get out. This happens more often after a move.
Don't just call all area shelters, but also visit them. Don't depend on a volunteer to identify your black cat out of many black cats in the shelter. Post lost cat notices with a recent photo of Rug and offer a reward. Put them up at local grocery stores, coffee shops, groomers, veterinary clinics and pet stores, even on no parking signs.
(Gary MacPhee, director of the HomeAgain Business Unit at Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, contributed to this answer.)
Q: My cat pulls out his fur in clumps and licks himself constantly. The result is a huge hairball problem. I've had him to three veterinarians, and each time prednisolone was prescribed. This helped some at first but is now totally ineffective. My cat is adorable, and I feel so bad for him. Can you help? — J.A., Clearwater, Fla.
A: If you haven't already done so, make sure that a fungal infection and parasites, especially fleas, have been ruled out as possible causes of the problem. Even indoor cats, especially where you live, can get fleas.
"Allergies could be the issue," says feline specialty veterinarian Dr. Drew Weigner, of Atlanta, GA. He suggests you see a feline veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist who might be able to pinpoint the allergy involved, or if your cat even has an allergy. An unlikely possibility is your cat is licking compulsively.
Also, ask your vet about treating the hairballs. While this won't solve your cat's underlying problem, making hairballs less frequent will help him feel more comfortable until you pinpoint the problem.
Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is http://www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.