Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Assuring a place in the 95 percent

The right professional dog training can solve 95 percent of dog problems — the majority of which might better be described as people problems. But there are some problems training can’t touch, and often that’s because people ignored the warning signs and put off getting help. Keep reading:

Last week, Seven, our 10-year-old German Shepherd, bit my 2-year-old daughter causing her to get stitches in her face. The incident was caused by a granola bar being left on the couch. Seven snatched the bar when I stepped out of the room for a minute. Our daughter either wanted to get it back or wanted to see what Seven had, and Seven attacked her. She required four stitches in her face and sustained a few other minor bites. Seven didn’t bite and thrash. Rather, he growled and nipped multiple times.

The positive about Seven: He is a very loving dog. He loves to play fetch and wrestle and to just cuddle up with you. He listens well and is trained to sit, stay and come. He is a great dog for car rides, and he sits still for baths, teeth brushing and coat brushing. He loves to run! He and my daughter get along all right. They don’t play a whole lot together, but Seven would come up to the couch where my daughter would be sitting and wait for a pet or a scratch.

The negative about Seven: He is overprotective and displays signs of food-aggression. He also has a barking issue that bark collars haven’t been able to solve. He doesn’t like small dogs or neighborhood cats.

These folks have a problem — and so does Seven. The wife wants to get rid of the dog; the husband wants to keep him. She has called local shelters, hoping to find someone who will take Seven and find him a new home. So far, no luck. The unfortunate reality is that Seven is old, he’s big, he’s untrained, and he now has a history of biting. The wife is losing hope and considering euthanasia; her husband refuses.

In my opinion, they are both wrong. Seven cannot live in a home with a small child — especially a child who is allowed to crawl and jump on the family dog, as this child is. It’s dangerous, and the mother is right to be afraid for her daughter’s safety.

But they do have a duty to Seven to find an appropriate home where he can live out the rest of his life comfortably. I advised contacting last-resort sanctuaries and German shepherd rescues, as well as stepping up their search for a new home without children.

Stories like this are exceptionally hard for me to hear because I know things didn’t have to get to this point. If I had received a call about Seven eight years ago, when his barking was a fresh nuisance and the food-aggression first surfaced, or even four or five years ago, when the baby was still an idea, you wouldn’t be reading this story today. Seven would have been among the 95 percent.

My hope is that, in reading this story, anyone who sees themselves heading down this path will find help now — when the issues are relatively small and solvable and the much larger problems that lie ahead are entirely avoidable.


Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is the co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and the host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at, and visit him at Send your questions or by mail to Uncle Matty at PO Box 3300, Diamond Springs 95619.

Copyright 2012

Matthew Margolis


Discussion | No comments



EDH Fire Dept. annexing Latrobe

By Noel Stack | From Page: A1

Motorcycle fatality in Greenwood

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

Greenwood School being restored

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Cal Fire increasing staffing, hiring

By Cal Fire | From Page: B1

EID restricts watering days

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1, 9 Comments

Lover’s Leap fall injures man

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A1

Tea Party meeting April 17

By Tea Party Patriots Of El Dorado Hills | From Page: A3

Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking May 1

By El Dorado Hills Community Vision Coalition | From Page: A6

Floating body not a body

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A7

Old mill a goner

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A11, 2 Comments | Gallery



My turn: A fair California flat income tax

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

DA Pierson has been outstanding

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 4 Comments



A great big thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Murder? Suicide?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

‘Drive Clean’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Middle class getting poorer?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Real estate lies

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment



Outside with Charlie: Switch gear

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A8

Ponderosa volleyball is a family affair

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Aussie team makes visit

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A8

Griz have challenging day

By Mike Bush | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Roundup: April 15, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery



At a glance: Take aim on fun

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Men to walk a mile in her shoes

By Center For Violence-Free Relationships | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Runners stampede for Sugarloaf scholarships

By El Dorado County Office of Education | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Team works to fight disease

By Placerville Kiwanis | From Page: B3

COOL School is accepting applications

By Rescue Union | From Page: B4

Band of Miwoks fund mission

By Shingle Springs Band Of Miwok Indians | From Page: B12



Crime Log: March 25-27

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Weather stats 4-15-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2



Ronald Russell Rohrer

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Numa Edward “Ed” Roberts

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




By Contributor | From Page: A10


By Contributor | From Page: A10

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A10


By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Thursday, April 17, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A10


By Contributor | From Page: A10

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A10