By Marc Morrone
Tribune Content Agency
Q: Our lab/pit mix puppy is now 8 months old and we got a metal choke collars to stop her from pulling when we walk her. However even with it on she will pull ahead of us until she actually starts to choke and cough and yet she never seems to get the idea. How is this supposed to work? Does it not bother her when it gets so tight around her neck? - Brad Williams, Macon, GA
A: A choke collar actually should be called a training collar. The objective with it is not to choke the dog but to get its attention when they start to pull away. It needs to be put on the dog so that when you give it a yank it tightens up and then quickly releases. You do not want it to tighten around the neck.
Personally, one should only use these collars when they have the time, the patience and the knowledge to use them properly.
I think a better solution for your dog is a gentle leader or head halter. These collars go around the face as a halter and the leash is attached to a ring under the dog's jaw. If the halter is fitted correctly then when the dog pulls ahead the lead turns him or her around so that the dog is now facing you.
Be sure to get the type of gentle leader that attached to the dog's collar. Some dogs have been able to get the leaders off themselves. It also helps if you first practice with the gentle leader on the dog indoors until you and the dog are comfortable.
The only problem that I have seen with the gentle leader is it resembles a muzzle to some people, so you may get some funny looks as you walk the dog but your shoulders will be thanking you.
Q: My bunny and guinea pig seem to shed constantly. In the past I have seen that you advised giving flax seed oil to dogs and cats to cut down on shedding. Does this work on bunnies and guinea pigs as well? - Jennifer Castro, Allentown, PA
A: I actually have tried this on my own small mammal pets - I sprayed the oil on their salad greens to see if it makes a difference. However, when I sprayed the flaxseed oil on the greens the bunnies and guinea pigs would either eat around the oil or not touch the greens at all.
Thus far it seems that the only thing I can do to make a difference is to comb and brush them every single day. If any other readers out there have found another solution to the shedding issue of bunnies and guinea pigs, I would be happy to hear from you.
Marc Morrone has kept almost every kind of animal as a pet for the last half-century and he is happy to share his knowledge with others. Although he cannot answer every question, he will publish many of those that have a general interest. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; please include your name, city and state.
Printed in the March 5, 2017 - March 18, 2017 edition.