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Dog senses when other canines speak your language

Updated: May 12, 2012 8:03AM

Q. I speak only Chinese to my parents and aunt in my household. My rescue dog Haley must know Chinese, too. When she meets dogs at the dog park or the street she can become scared or aggressive. But if the dogs are also from Chinese-speaking homes (and I ask), my dog is relaxed. Does this make sense?

A. Haley must sense a cultural kinship with other dogs accustomed to life in Chinese-speaking homes. Presumably, you and the other owners do not converse in Chinese out in the dog park or on the street. So Haley picks up the vibes from her four-legged kin. The only explanation is animal instinct, which is really the magic of dogs.

Occasionally, when Haley is comfortable with another dog who doesn’t come from a Chinese-speaking household, reward her for being calm with another dog that has no Asian inclination.

Q. In my neighborhood, there are now three female blonde Labrador retrievers named Piper, including my own. I would like to rename Piper to make her unique again. What name would you suggest?

A. You can rename her anything you want, but why would you want to? When you gave Piper the name, you thought it was a special moniker until the other Pipers moved in. How about you call your darling “Pied Piper” because blonde Labs follow her?

Q. I purchased a new pricey bed for Niko, my poodle puppy, but he keeps digging into it or biting it. What can I do to make him stop? He’s 15 months old.

A. Put the bed away until Niko is old enough to handle such luxuries. Throw an old blanket in a corner where you want Niko to hang out, and leave him chew things — indestructible toys and bully sticks are good. Niko is still a puppy with deep primal chewing and teething needs; make sure you give him plenty of chomp alternatives.

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