Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: It’s not always a picnic, buster

President Obama, like him or not, takes education seriously. And there’s little mystery surrounding how that came to be. According to the president, “Five days a week (my mother) came into my room at four in the morning, force-fed me breakfast and proceeded to teach me my English lessons for three hours before I left for school and she went to work.” In response to her son’s grumbling, his mother simply said, “This is no picnic for me, either, buster.”

Educating your dog isn’t always a picnic, either, but it’s worth it. No, he’ll never be president of the United States. But, among other perks, you’ll have a cleaner house, a longer-lasting wardrobe and a happier significant other — the value of none of which should be underestimated.

Consider the following letters from unhappy souls whose dogs did not receive a rigorous education:

Roxie, my 14-month-old longhaired miniature dachshund, refuses to be potty trained. Although she goes outside and receives praise, she often just decides to pee or poop in the house. She knows she has done wrong, as she will go hide under a bed, but we can’t seem to break her of this bad habit. Also, she is a barker and has not been taught to “come.”

Read between the lines: Roxie didn’t refuse; she wasn’t taught. At this point, there is more than a year’s worth of urine in that house. Toy dogs should not be exempt from housebreaking. When it comes to bodily waste, a little goes a long way.

Here’s my issue: Nena, my 5-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, chews up my girlfriend’s clothes. We have taken measures to ensure that all bedroom and bathroom doors are closed to prevent her from locating any clothes to destroy, but should we ever forget, she seizes the opportunity and rips what clothes she finds to shreds.

She particularly likes pajamas and underwear. This would be mildly amusing if the clothes weren’t expensive. My girlfriend is extremely frustrated with the dog and, consequently, with me.

I’m sure she is frustrated. Not only has her boyfriend not taught his dog boundaries, but apparently they’re all living in a house that contains no bureaus, dressers or closets with doors.

We just got our puppy, Deuce, last week. He is an 8-week-old miniature dachshund, and he hates my husband. He bites hands and toes a lot, but especially my husband’s. My husband is having a hard time connecting with Deuce and has almost given up on him. What can I advise my husband or myself to do differently in dealing with this biting and/or aggression issue?

At 8 weeks old, there’s hope for Deuce — assuming the husband can put in more than a solid week’s effort. They got their puppy last week, and hubby’s ready to throw in the towel?

People don’t do their homework. They bring a dog home and have no idea what to do next. Then one day the dog violates their internalized standards for acceptable behavior, and it’s all his fault.

He runs out the door! He chews up the furniture! He urinates inside! He licks my face!

An 82-year-old woman recently called me and said she just got a 6-month-old Great Pyrenees. The pup’s weight is equal to the woman’s age, and she has a problem with his licking her face. She reprimands him, saying, “You better trust me. I’m your mother.”

I asked her what the Pyrenees had to say to that.

“He licked my face.”

Sounds about right.


Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and 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 to or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs 95619.

Copyright 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Matthew Margolis


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