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Never too late to train your pooch — but it's work

Dear Uncle Matty: I have a dog that is a problem. I can't get Jet to stop jumping on people when they come to visit. He is a 2 1/2-year-old Labrador retriever — not a lightweight. This was not a problem when he was a puppy. When people are sitting around talking, he just goes from person to person nudging them with his nose. He does this constantly. I have to lock him up when we have company. I tried a squirt bottle, but it doesn't faze him. He seems to like it. What can I do? —Romella V., Tulsa, Okla.

Dear Romella: The solution is called dog training. When guests arrive, a well-trained dog will sit and stay on command, so Aunt Suzie doesn't have to be afraid. A well-trained dog will lie down and stay on command while guests enjoy themselves. Of course, the best time to train a pooch is when it is seven to 10 weeks of age before problems become habits. But there is hope. I've trained many dogs that are 9 or 10 years old and older. Dogs are smart creatures. They can learn, and what a relief that is. If you find a qualified trainer who uses love, praise and affection, there is still time to have Jet well trained.

Dear Uncle Matty:This is a safety tip for dog owners. If you have electric windows in your car or truck, be careful! If the button (to open the window) is located on the armrest and the dog can step on it, be alert. My dog, Miss Piggy, an 8-year-old English bull terrier, stepped on the button while her head was out the window. The glass came up and caught her right across the throat. Luckily, my husband responded quickly, pulling her off the button and opening the window as soon as possible. She has very strong neck muscles, but a dog with less muscle in the neck might have been seriously injured. —Sunny Kerbs, Pollack Pines, Calif.

Dear Sunny: I hope my readers will add this safety tip to a recent column that emphasized the potential tragedy that could result from pets riding in the open bed of a truck or in a convertible — any open-air vehicle. The same potential for injury and even death exists if a pet slips and falls out of an open car window, or as your story illustrates, simply closes the window and chokes.

Our homes are filled with pet dangers, too. Think about paper shredders and wagging tails, pots of boiling water and a cat that trips you up, frayed electrical cords that are just waiting to be chewed, toilet bowl cleaners, fireplaces and sliding glass doors to name a few.

With all the festivities now through the new year, your home may be a haven for added risks. You become busy and often preoccupied with decorations, cooking, parties and guests. Fido and Fluffy get lost in the shuffle. They can slip out an open door when you are busy welcoming visitors. Cats don't seem to have as much of a sweet tooth as dogs, but regardless, woofing down chocolate from a dish that's handy can make your dog terribly ill or worse. Chocolate is toxic to pets. Start now and pet-proof the holidays. Always make sure your animals are safe. They depend on you.

WOOF! —Uncle Matty


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!" Send your questions to dearuncle.gazette@unclematty.com or mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619. © Creators Syndicate Inc.