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Owner doesn’t want her dog banished to basement

Updated: March 14, 2013 6:05AM

Q. I have wonderful Vivian, a vizsla-mix dog I adopted from a shelter last November. Vivian is a great dog and companion. I work out of my home and she curls up under my desk and always is ready to go when I need a walk. She is housetrained and has a calm disposition.

I’m single and am close to my large family. But my sister-in-law, whom I always thought liked animals, banishes Viv to the basement whenever we visit. She also forbids her children to visit the dog in the basement. I seethe but it’s her house. What can I do?

A. Quietly seethe with a smile under the dog draconian law. Don’t make a scene or push for a “big talk” just yet. As you point out, it’s her house. She has every right to set down the rules for Viv’s visits, even if they do seem extreme. Over time, as she inevitably experiences more of you with your new companion, your sister-in-law should become more relaxed in your pet’s presence. Also, the spring and summer will provide excellent opportunities to visit outdoors. Viv will fit in more comfortably in the fresh air.

Q. I have a 4-year-old beagle/Bassett hound, Muggsy. He is perfect except when it comes to food. He is a terror and will jump and grab food out of people’s hands and off the table, counter, wherever he can. I have to hold him on the leash while we eat. How do I correct this behavior?

A. Sounds like you’re doing the best you can. Muggsy is indeed a terror if he’s stealing food out of peoples’ hands. Thank goodness you are not in denial about this bad behavior.

Train Muggsy with grub rewards — specifically dog treats given for good behavior such as not jumping up to steal food. Make sure you have a high reward treat in your pocket — not run-of-the-mill dry biscuit but freeze-dried liver chunks, boiled chicken — to bestow on Muggsy for sitting, staying and focusing on you.

Your dog will learn to behave when you take the time to train him.

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