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Weird Woof Wednesday: Knee-Jerk Reactions & Poopy-Puppies

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Puppies often eat schtuff--and then want to SMOOCH you on the lips.

We’ve had two blogs in a row filled to the brim with writer-icity, so it’s time for a bit of SQUEEEE! puppy-licious fun. There are a number of weird behaviors, though, that puzzle even savvy dog owners. One’s enough to make you question your dog’s good taste–literally.

Coprophagia–sounds all literary-like, right? But that’s just a fancy word for eating (ahem) poop.

Ew! You might want to put down your McMuffin while reading this.

Poop eating can be nature’s way for mom-dogs to keep the nest clean, and Junior-Dawg simply copy cats the behavior. It’s annoying, nasty, and great fun for juvenile delinquent pups. Even the Magical-Dawg indulged in his youth, played keep-away with the crap and one time actually carried some inside the house. Oh yeah, THAT went over well, and reinforced the cat’s opinion of him.

Most pups outgrow the behavior. If you have a canine connoisseur of pungent productions (say THAT fast five time!), these 10 tips to stop eating poop will help.  Just take a look at that face (below) and tell me you couldn’t forgive that keep-’em-laughing puppy! In fact, read on for some neato news.

July 15-17, is joining with over 1,500 rescue groups and shelters across North American for what could be the largest adoption event in history–in honor of 15th Birthday year! That sweet puppy above with the goof-ball grin is Booger-Boy  and he’s available–just click on thr picture for a link to details. Betcha once he’s adopted (and you could change the name!) he’d promise not to eat anything you don’t want him to eat…except maybe a favorite sock that reminds him of his beloved human . . .

A less annoying but still puzzling behavior involves doggy scratching behavior. Does your pooch kick when he’s scratched? Is it a certain place if you rub him the right way, or will his leg jitter and jump with any scratch? The Ask Amy video below has some answers–but what have I missed? Why do you think dogs “fiddle” when scratched?

And do your dogs (or pups) eat nasty stuff? How do you handled the problem? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy–Sit On THIS!

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1-B-Seren&books 1-21-08

I am at THRILLERFEST, and surrounded by best selling authors, aspiring writers, book editors, agents and all-things-literary. I am in book-heaven! I’ve already loaded up my tote with fresh hot-of-the-press autographed books to schlep home.

At my house we already have a wealth of reading material. The stacks of books waiting to be read and reviewed, tear sheets of articles to file, printouts from the Internet and “virtual” Ebooks give new meaning to “up to my eyeballs.” So it should come as no surprise that the fur-kids in the family also have a litter-ary bent.

The Magical-Dawg believes his life’s mission includes picking up and carrying stray bits of paper—anywhere—just out of reach of human hands (or waste receptacles). Since moving said waste baskets to second-story territory onto counters, he indulges in less “fishing” for these treats. Hey, don’t judge me…it’s a decorating choice!

The cat is a bit more genteel in her recreational reading. I suspect your kitties also indulge in planting furry nether regions atop any bit of reading material they find. Mostly, Seren targets the newspaper spread across the breakfast table and has an incredible ability to position herself EXACTLY atop the article of most interest. She has great taste.

Blackie Reading Petiquette

"So THAT'S what d*gs (spit!) think!"

Or, she’ll attempt to sit on my book. That’s fine until I reach the end of a page and need to turn to the next, whereupon feline mutterings turn the air blue with Seren’s disgust. Because after all, SHE wasn’t finished reading that page!

Why are cats drawn to human reading material? The Ask Amy video, below, addresses this question, but here are a few more thoughts.

Sitting on a single piece of paper left on an otherwise bare table top doesn’t elevate them much, but has a psychological effect. After all, cats are nothing if not psycho—I mean, psychic. Wait, let me start over.
seren in file basket
Sitting on top of something that hasn’t yet been “scented” by the cat invites her to claim and control that piece of paper/book/whatnot and the surrounding. It’s sort of like leaving a toddler alone in a room with pristine white walls—and a new box of Crayolas. Irresistible! Something’s going to get marked.

kitten on bookcase

"Such big words...where am da pictures?"

Also, when you’ve been reading a particular book, your scent on the cover draws kitty to investigate. If I don’t set it down but hold the book up to read, Seren cheek-rubs the corners of the book cover over and over. It’s a cat’s way of paw-tographing something. When she does that to my Kindle, she “turns the pages” for me.

Adam Stritar's cat Holstein

"I'm the top cat, yep, I am I am!"

Finally, I suspect one of the main reasons cats (and some dogs) insist on inserting themselves into our reading is for the attention. Humans sit and stare for hours at that book/page/paper. The pet can only imagine we’re brain-dead. Magic gets between us and our view of the TV because he knows (of course!) we’d rather look at him than stare into space.

So when a pet gets between you and the words or TV screen, consider it furry intervention to get human attention focused properly where it should be focused.

On them.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: BOOM! Dealing With Fireworks Fears

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Fireworks from July 4th celebration may be festive to you, but can turn your pets into nervous wrecks. More cats and dogs–and even livestock like horses–become lost on this day than any other when pets panic, go through windows, break tethers and leap fences.

Even safely contained pets shiver, moan, and feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy cats, but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior.

It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. If you start these programs when your fur-kid is a baby, it can help him stay calm during all kinds of scary noises, from thunderstorms and gunshots to fireworks fears.


So--can you "hear" what he's saying?

My mom’s Shelties used to act like furry jello as they quivered and dove for that dark safe spot under the bed. But the Magical-Dawg could care less. Part of that, I think, has to do with the PUPPY-PARTEEEEE! WOW, WAS THAT LOUD, WHAT FUN! reactions I’d offer him each time the thunder boomed during his socialization months. Now, if a particularly loud thunder-clap startles me and I jump, he does look at me with eyebrows raised–ready to get wound up if I so much as “say” he should by my body language.

Pets do read us. You have to be a really good actor around dogs (and cats) because they read our silent language with little effort. Do you speak dog? What do all those tail wags and woofs mean? Do you know what a doggy laugh sounds like? Check out my latest puppy-licious article on dog talk, and tell me what I’ve missed. Different dogs “speak” in unique ways–how do your fur-kids tell you what they want?

How do your dogs tell you they’re scared? Do you have special ways for soothing the angst? Noise phobias can be especially tough to manage, especially when the fear has gone on for a while. For tips on how to desensitize and some neato products to help the process with puppies and dogs, check out these 11 tips for calming noise fears.

But with Independence Day right around the corner, you’ll need some immediate help. Paw Nation published my latest article 10 Tips to Prevent Fireworks Fears — for dogs, cats, even horses!

You’ll find more help for pet behavior problems including fear issues in my PETiQuette book, and it’s also addressed in the Aging Dog and Aging Cat books–old fogey pets have much less tolerance for scary stuff. Be safe and have a lovely July 4th.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways GOING OUT TOMORROW!

Woof Wednesday: Old Fogey Dog Webinar, Ask Amy & Dogs Rolling Over

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Those who regularly read my blog know about all the cute puppy pictures and content (SQUEEEE!) I’ve been creating. Our old fogey dogs are just as–or even more–deserving of our love and attention.

I’m thrilled to offer the fine folks at the Danish-Swedish Farm Dog USA organization a live Webinar next Monday June 20, based on my best-selling updated Complete Care for Your Aging Dog book. The presentation–with Q&A and some fun pictures from the powerpoint–has pending CCPDT accreditation. And a portion of the registration goes to fund dog-specific causes (your choice). Feel free to spread the furry word– and I  hope to “see” some of y’all there.


"Rub my tummy....please?"

That puppy in the picture from last weekend’s local adoption event wanted to just chill on my lap, sleeping on his back, all afternoon. What a sweetie. When we first got Magic, he was NOT inclined to “roll over.”

Rolling onto the back and baring the tummy places a dog into a vulnerable position and not all feel comfortable doing this. As Magical-Dawg has matured, he’s much more willing to volunteer this behavior–and I’m flattered. It actually can be a sign of great trust, although many folks assumes this posture always means submission.

And no, of course I never “forced” Magic onto his back. Okay, guess I need to also mention “alpha roll” where the owner forces a dog onto his back to establish dominance. Probably a better name for it would be the “stupid roll” because it does nothing to foster submission and actually can get owners bit.

The premise comes from thinking that wolves make other wolves roll over to prove who is in charge. Uh…nope. Wolves roll over on their own to indicate deference, they aren’t “forced” to do this by a bigger wolf. And of course, dogs aren’t wolves. Dogs will show deference and respect to more potent, powerful and in charge individuals (whether that’s another dog, a cat or human). And sometimes the most powerful doggy in the group rolls over to show a less confident canine he means no threat, as an invitation to play or build confidence.

The fellow asking the question in the Ask Amy video was not happy about his newly adopted dog’s inclination to roll over. I suspect he wanted his dog to be “macho” and “dominant” and wasn’t clear on exactly what his dog was telling him–or what the dog “heard” his new owner saying.

Do your dogs enjoy tummy rubs? Does your dog flip on his back at the drop of a “hello?” When does he show his tummy–do you ask, or does he simply volunteer and request your attention?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Ask Amy, Puppy Baths & Skunk-icity

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7-22 magic & hose
Magic loves water–for play! Bathes are a different story.

Last week during a ramble through the 13 acres of our Rosemont homestead, Magical-Dawg emerged from the treeline and scared my husband half to death. He threw himself on the ground (the dawg, not the hubby!), and rolled-rolled-rolled and scrubbed his face in the grass and dirt. Mahmoud thought he’d been bitten or stung by something, said Magic even seemed to foam a bit at the mouth and was nearly impossible to motivate him vertical so they could head back to the house.

I checked the boy over for bites and stings–one side of his jowls did seem a bit swollen–but Magic didn’t act tender and seemed fine. The repair folks arrived shortly thereafter to fix the oven/stove (that’s another story!) so Magic kenneled-up in our bedroom for the duration. An hour later when they left and I opened the bedroom door and released Magic from his kennel–

Ginger, the Morkie, can’t believe she’d ever need a bath! Copr. eamylove

WHEWIE! I hadn’t noticed it before, but confinement increased Magical-Dawg’s pungent-icity. Not a bug bite or sting at all–nope, my inquisitive fellow had a close encounter with a skunk. Luckily it wasn’t a direct hit or we’d have noticed much more quickly. So today, the Magical-Dawg will get a bath with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap–a bubbling miraculous solution for de-skunking the stinkiest pooch. For directions how to get other stuff out of the fur (tar, paint, chewing gum and more), you’ll find detailed how-to advice in the First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats.

Puppies shouldn’t be bathed until they are at least four weeks old—six or eight weeks is better. The little guys have trouble regulating their body temperature at that age, and can become chilled. While some breeds need more bathing than others, excessive baths can strip natural oils from the coat and dry the skin. For puppy-licious bathing advice, check out 13 Steps for Bathing Your Puppy (hot off the virtual press!).

Some dogs HATE bathes, though. Does yours? Magic LOVES the idea of chasing the water but doesn’t want to hold still for rinsing. Today’s Ask Amy explains some of the “whys” about dogs who hate bathing. How often do you bathe your dog? Or…HISSSSSSS…do you ever bathe your cat? Did you and the cat survive? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Thoughty Thursday: What’s YOUR Bliss?

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“Bliss is a ball . . .”

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years. Some were glorious adventures while others hit big numbers on the suck-ometer. Cashier, actress, optometric associate, legal assistant, TV news reporter/anchor, vet tech, bank compliance officer, spokesperson—shoveling crappiocca (and dodging what was lobbed my direction) came with every position.

Oh, I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything, despite the aromatic negatives. In fact, I’d go back in a heartbeat to employee gigs with a very select few despite son-of-an-ass-terick bosses because I loved the work that much.

Some folks-in-charge aren't nearly as classy as this lil' fellow.

A N’Orleans street musician playing for pennies was asked why he spent hours playing for so little. The gentleman said, “Hey man, it’s what I do.” He’d found his bliss.

I meet lots of dissatisfied folks. They feel trapped or prevented in some way from finding their personal bliss. Maybe they want to adopt a pet but have allergies, or the $%^&*(!#% apartment won’t allow a furry companion. Or they’re faced with house payments, braces for the kid’s teeth, college tuition, replacing the hail-damaged roof or (fill in the blank) bills that enslave them to a hated 9-to-5 and have no time to write their novel.

Have you let fear of failure or embarrassment, hurt pride or anger over other folk’s jerk-icity keep you from doing what you love? Guilty as charged.

I’m guilty of using the “time” excuse—“when I finish this next deadline, project, whatever, then I’ll have time to  . . .”  My mom tells me if it’s important enough, I’ll find the time.

Grubby paws can mean you're digging for gold.

We all make excuses. It’s the human thing to do. But if something or someone tried to keep me from my fur-kids, from writing my heart, from shiny objects or my music, my God-gifted bliss—I’d by-heaven find a way over, through, or around. And shame on me for letting anyone try to take that away!

There’s a rush, a natural “right-ness” and physical Snoopy-Dance-‘O-Joy feeling in doing what is meant to be. It never gets old, but there’s no real destination, either. It’s a moving target that makes you reeeeeach just a bit beyond comfort level time and again.

I’m ready to stretch a bit. How ‘bout you? What is your bliss? What’s kept you from reaching out for that brass ring?


To stay up to date on all the latest cat-egorical or dog-matic content, subscribe to this blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Have You Howled Today?

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Magical-Dawg with a favorite bear toy--when not shaking the stuffing out of it, he sucks on 'em.

Living in Tornado Alley keeps North Texans alert to the weather changes–and the past week has been a doozy. My phone went out last Friday. This morning (6 days later!) the fine folks at Verizon fixed it. Wind, rain, hail (some the size of golf balls) grabbed and shook those phone cables like a terrier with a rat–or my Magical-Dawg with his stuffed bear. At least this time the electrical downed lines didn’t spark a grass fire.

Still had my cell phone. And the DSL line for the computer and email worked. In this “connected” world we’ve got so many ways to communicate–emailing, texting, faxing, FB-ing, twitter-icity–could you go back to basics? What are the options? Smoke signals? The fire marshall would throw cold water on that notion. Tom-tom drums? Gotta have rhythm for that. Why not howls!

We’ve got lots to howl about, actually.  The horrifying “train your virtual dog to fight” Android Ap created lots of raised hackles in the pet writing community. My colleague Steve Dale’s recent blog details the objections–and the REMOVAL of the Ap. ArrrrrrrroooOOOOOOOOOO!  (p.s., just learned it’s risen from the dead in another incarnation, hisssss!)

Another colleague, Gina Spadafori of is on the road with my one-time co-author Dr. Marty Becker on a 7-week book tour. They arranged with Marriott for stays along the way–including a place for the tour’s spokes-dog McKenzie, a highly trained and easy going Flat Coat Retriever. Well–at the very first stop in Houston on the 30-city tour, Gina and McKenzie got evicted…no dogs allowed, never mind it’d been cleared by Corporate. Same thing happened at the next stop. ArrrrrrrrrrrrrrOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! The powers-what-be are working on it–meanwhile, McKenzie aka McKutie-Dawg spends time in the big bus rock star suite with Gina.

A howl works for celebration, for lamentation, for communication–and lots of other  “ations” including the canine n-ation. High tech human conversation loses lots in translation without the natural audible inflection, not to mention (pun intended!) the silent body language that goes with it. And I am NOT referring to elevated digits in rude salutes–although being without a phone for nearly six days tempted me to flex my fingers. Harrumph!

magic & instruments

Howls are canine singing--sorta kinda in a way...

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. My Paw Nation article on doggy communication hit the high spots. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house. So I thought this Ask Amy was timely, enjoy!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: A Big Hairy Deal

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The fur flies this time of year at my house. With an off-white carpet (when it’s clean, that is!), the Siamese wannabe’s shedding isn’t such a problem unless I wear black. But the Magical-dawg might as well be Go-Dawg-Van-Gogh using hair as his artistic medium to swirl interesting fuzzy logic patterns on the floor. See, when he sheds he itches, and when he itches, he chews–different than the Ask Amy puppy chew answers from yesterday, too. He’s got the “don’t cares & cain’t hep its” cuz he’s a German Shepherd fella. Chewing fur could lead to doggy hairballs–and boy, would the cat laugh!

Now, if he was a Puli, like the lovely fellow up above, the shed fur would simply get caught into dreadlocks. This breed looks sort of like scrubbing bubbles as they move. I could trade in the carpet for hardwood floors, and he’d take care of the mopping for me.

Yorkie in papers
Or I could trade Magic in on a Yorkie. They have hair–not fur–and require papers to stay tangle-free. Heck, I don’t spend that much time on my own hair. Guess I’ll stick with my Magical-Marker.

The majority of doggies (and cats) shed. Floating fur increases the challenge of keeping just-washed apparel a Fido-free zone. Unless you’re a passionate pet lover who considers pet hair to be a condiment, understanding how to tame the hairy mess will keep your pet’s coat and skin healthy and simplify housecleaning.

Don’t blame warmer weather. It’s light exposure, either to sun or artificial light, determines the amount and timing. More hair is shed during the greatest exposure to light. You can find out more about shedding and how to manage your fur challenges with these 6 Shedding Tips in my latest Paw Nation article.


Or you could trade in your fur-maniac for a lovely Chinese Crested beauty, like the fellow above. Hey, don’t bark at the messenger, I don’t want to split hairs. Just dishing up the naked truth. *ducking*

So do y’all have a “big hairy deal” with pet shedding? How do you corral all the drifts of fur? Do you knit dog fur hats? Provide nesting material for area flocks? Doing nothing can lead to hot spots, hair mats, or hairballs (stay tuned for a Feline Friday hairballs feature). Please share your fur care tips.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Doggy New Year’s Resolutions

Magic has very specific New Year's goals.

It’s Woof Wednesday—and a good time to take stock of the past year from a dogs’-eye-view, and the year to come. The Magical-dawg romped through 2010 with only a few missteps along the way. It’s hard to keep up with his energy—but it’s good for me to try. So here are New Year’s Resolutions from Magic, with commentary by Amy.

Magic:  “I will train my humans to toss balls with better aim.”

Amy: He  insists on fetch both inside the house and out. So I resolve to keep breakables out of tossed-ball-range.

Magic: “I will kill all squeakers and chew sticky-out wrong parts on toys.”

Amy: He amputates teddy-bear ears, steals cat toys, and ends up with sparkly poop. I resolve to find a Magic-proof squeaky stuffed toy, and keep Seren’s catnip mice and sparkle balls out of reach.

Magic: “I will learn to swim.”

Amy: Magic discovered that the tank—that’s Texan for “man-made pond”—refreshes  inside and out—and provides pungent ambience. Drinking tank water made Magic sick from both ends. I resolve to find a healthier way to cool off my hot dog.

Magic: “I will train Amy to play with the magic-water ALL THE TIME!”

Amy: Magic obsessed over the garden hose used to fill his new doggy wading pool. He’s nearly figured out how to turn on the spigot. I resolve to get dog-proof spigot or risk outrageous water bills.

Magic: “I will steal balls back from thieving coyotes.”

Amy: Magic lost at least eight balls somewhere on the 13-acre property. Several failed the “will it float” test. I resolve to find fetch-able toys he’s less likely to lose.

Magic: “I will find more balls-with-legs and see if they bounce.”

Amy: Magic befriended at least seven box turtles, and “fetched” them home. No turtles were injured—and none were amused. I resolve to protect the wildlife from turtle-bounce dangers.

Magic: “I will go for a ride forever!”

Amy: Magic discovered car rides. He aspires to be a furry hood ornament. I resolve to invest in a safety barrier to keep Magic in the back seat and from behind the wheel.

Magic: “I will catch, fetch, and carry more-more-more Frisbees every day.”

Amy: Magic caught 2,043,713 Frisbees in 2010. Several did not survive. At least 2,043,706 are MIA. Remaining doggy disks get stacked and carried all at once—three or more at a time. I resolve to buy stock in fling-able dog toys, and re-invigorate the country’s economy.

Magic: “I will train Amy that naps together are a good thing. So are tummy rubs.”

Amy: I resolve to listen to Magic.

Happy (Doggy) New Year, folks—what are your dog’s New Year’s resolutions?  If you have a cat, please visit Feline Friday for the cat-version of New Year’s resolutions!