Dog Charmer by Tom Shelby: Old dog Eddie is a P.I.T.A

Dog Charmer by Tom Shelby
Old dog Eddie is a P.I.T.A

I would love some behavioral support for 11-year-old Eddie. I live alone with Eddie and Annie, my 2 dogs. My 90-year-old parents moved out in March. I work full-time. They get walks in the a.m. and p.m. I come home mid-day to let them out into a fenced-in yard. Eddie is very demanding of me when I’m home, and even worse if someone is here with me.

Dear Martha,
Most dogs are smarter and more manipulative than their owners realize. And they sure love attention! And now with your parents having recently moved out, Eddie’s craving for attention has ratcheted up. Plus, at his advanced age he may be experiencing a touch of separation anxiety, especially exacerbated by the pandemic. The saying “A tired dog is a well behaved dog” has a lot of validity, and so does the fact that after a full day’s work it’s not unreasonable to understand that the last thing you feel like doing is going for an exercise walk with your dogs. However, if it’s a weekend or a day that you’re not working and you’re expecting company, I might suggest giving them a good walk, or time in the yard before guests arrive. Most importantly, “Special Toys,” toys that they only get when you’re home and you don’t want to be bothered by them, or when you have company. Hollow marrow bones with meat or cheese or peanut butter wedged in the middle so they can’t remove all of it, but will keep working at it. You’ll often find that after working on a toy for 20 minutes the next thing they’ll do is take a rest and lie down. It’s IMPORTANT that these special toys are kept out of their reach and only used when you DON’T want their attention.

Best of luck with your new “toy protocol.”
Dog Charmer Tom

Cooperstown author Tom Shelby will answer pet owner questions on dog training. Email your questions to

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