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We love helping dog-parents and families put their best foot forward so that paws can follow.

Providing the means for your furry-friends to lead a happy and fulfilled life is an owners responsibility, after all, dogs cannot source these tools without second party assistance. Sometimes, helping them can simply come down to asking the right questions.

Australia’s top animal behaviourist Laura V. has been providing support and professional advice toward dog parenting and their behaviour on our Facebook page, answering questions from inspired owners like the ones below.

Q: Nadia Antonucci Fornaro

My dog won’t eat any dental chews, i just bought some Oravet and she won’t eat it. What can i do or is there anything else i can give her? She is a 4.7kg Toy Cavoodle. TIA


Hey Nadia, thanks so much for your question. There may be a couple of reasons why.
Firstly, she doesn't lie the taste. Secondly, she is unable to comfortably chew on them. There
are some others on the market, but may I ask, why you want to feed your dog an oral chew?


to keep your dogs teeth clean, oral chews can certainly aid in this. Also, you can train your dog to allow you clean their teeth for them. Also, make sure your dog isn't eating any foods that are not premium quality. The best sorts of foods generally aid in good oral hygiene as well.


Oh Laura, you wouldn’t believe it but I said to her I told you and gave it to her this time in her Kong and she started chewing fingers crossed she keeps it up. I only let her have half just in case it gave her the. Thank you so much for answering my question

Q: Deb Buxton

My collie jumps up and barks a lot mostly at nothing. How can I stop this behaviour? She’s nearly 8 years old and has done it the last couple of years.


Thanks so much for your question Deb. Assuming she is in excellent physical health? To us, it may seem like nothing, but it is so important we think from our dog's POV. She is likely
communicating her emotional state.

So, can I ask; when does she do it? Is it when she is excited? When she is anticipating something? When she is outside on her own? The art here, is to understand where she is coming from. Once we know that, then we can help her manage the behaviour. For instance, we can start to predict when she will feel this way, and we can capture her BEFORE her emotions manifest. We would do that by calling her name and getting her to do something for a reward. It is also possible the the barking and jumping gets inadvertently rewarded and so if we focus her on something productive beforehand, she will get what she was after anyway, though doing something worthwhile. It will also help to reduce her anxiety and impulse control issues too.

So in essence, look for why it is happening (the pattern - there will be one I promise), capture her attention beforehand with a productive activity and keep her focus. You have a collie remember - a hyper intelligent working dog. Put her to work and she will show better behaviour in our human eyes Cheers, Laura www.laurav.com.au


Thank you Laura. It is
mainly when we have visitors and when we get home from being out.

Q: Emilia Rance

Our puppy (6 months old) is constantly barking at everyone and everything and we cannot get him to stop.


Hey Emilia, thanks so much for your post. Firstly, barking is normal. It is an essential form of communication and necessary for a healthy happy dog to express themselves. When
your dog barks excessively, it can become a sign of anxiety - from being over stimulated and being unable to control their impulses. I would love you to start doing some brain games with your dog. The more your dog thinks, the less they bark. When your dog sees someone, watch their body language and catch them BEFORE they start to show signs of excitement and barking. Do a u turn and refocus them using very high value treats. Target training is a great way to focus their brain and mouth/nose on you. Have you heard of target training? I am here till 8, so let's keep the convo going if you can.

Q: Emilia Rance

I have not heard of target training! A lot of the time he seems to bark to intimidate people or dogs but he’s tiny 😂 but also just wants attention from them. And then when we gets to people or other dogs he is nervous.


Ok, so he needs a big confidence boost. If you check out my website, I have a video on target training. But you can google it and get an idea of how to do it. Essentially have a great treat in your hand, and close your fist, hiding the treat. Hold it near him, and as he sniffs it, his little nose will make contact with your fist. As soon as he touches your hand, open your fist and allow him to take the treat. This is a REALLY fun game and it has to be the best thing ever for your dog! SO make it fun. Do this often and then you can put it on cue saying the word 'touch' when his nose makes contact. And, move your hand around so he has to chase it to make contact and get the treat. This is great for building confidence, and providing a chance to focus on something productive. Do this BEFORE he starts to show signs of nervousness - ie body stiffening, vocalising etc. I would do u turns until you can get to a comfortable distance with him focusing on you and not the dog. Remember this does take time and patience, but is very much worth it in the end. https://www.akc.org/.../the-power-of-touch-teach-your.../


Awesome thank you! I look forward to giving this a go!!

Q: Cheryl Caser

Hi Laura. My 3yo dog sleeps in my room with her 12yo buddy. One night she jumped up on my bed and urinated on my bedsheets. Everything was soaked. I have no idea why. She knows she not allowed on my bed. Any ideas? Thanks


Hey Cheryl, thank you for your post. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to be a dog, it's just more difficult than we think. There are a range of questions to ask - what is the relationship like between the two dogs? The relationship between you and the two dogs? Has she ever had any urinary issues? Has she ever weed inappropriately before? Did something change in her routine around the time that this happened? If you can, answer these and we can go from there 🙂 Cheers, Laura www.laurav.com.au

Q: Cheryl Caser

Hi Laura. My 3yo dog sleeps in my room with her 12yo buddy. One night she jumped up on my bed and urinated on my bedsheets. Everything was soaked. I have no idea why. She knows she not allowed on my bed. Any ideas? Thanks.


If it has only happened once, then let’s allow it to be an anomaly and move forward. It may have been that she realised she was not allowed and it was an anxious urination, or an excitable one due to the fact she was up there. Also possible it was a territorial behaviour. With all these possibilities, keep them in the back of your mind and try to prevent her from experiencing any of these emotions - in the aim if it not happening again. Good luck.

Q: Elisa Ware

My dog stinks....could it be the food he is eating?


Thanks so much for taking the time out to ask this question. It's interesting that you say your dog smells bad. Some breeds are more prone to being smelly than others. Dogs with thicker coats or more folds of skin can be a tad more pongy. There are a couple of other causes for smelly doggos. Food can play a massive role in how a dog appears and smells. What are you feeding them? Food free of additives and preservatives is essential. Also food that claims to have meat 'meal' in it is a no no! Our Patch food may be an excellent start for you. Try it for 6 weeks and let me know what difference you notice. I am here until 8pm, so if you're here too, let's keep that chat going 🙂 Laura V - laurav.com.au

Q: Marcia Rance

We are struggling to help our puppy eat. He is very picky and won’t even eat steak!


First thought here is - is your puppy in perfect health? It might seem like an obvious question, but it is always important to cancel out any physical issues before we start looking at behavioural issues. Assuming there are no physical concerns, give the following a go: don't let your puppy graze on their food all day. If they don't eat it within 20 minutes, then take it away. Keep their bowl clean and hygienic too. I personally dislike dog bowls and usually give my dogs their daily intake of food via purposeful means - such as treat dispensers or training. So try cueing your dog to sit/drop/stay/search etc for their food. That way they are working for it. Working for it increases motivation and it is fascinating to see that a dog would much rather work with you for their resource, than have it for free. There is a tonne of research on this too. I'm here until 8, so let me know if you have any more questions 🙂 Cheers, Laura www.laurav.com.au

Q: Robyn Brazier

My recently adopted rescue dog who is 7 a Chi x reacts and rears up when we pass other dogs on a walk. I have tried distracting her, leading her away, saying leave it and holding her still. What is the best way to deal with this?


Hey Robyn, thank you so much for your post. It sounds as if you have gone a long way past her 'threshold'. Threshold is essentially the distance your dog can be before they start to experience any emotional or physical discomfort. So. we need to make sure you do not get that close in the first place as she is unable to handle it. You may need to start doing a lot more U turns - which is fine. Who says you need to do the same square block each day 😉 I also put a lot of this on cue - so for instance teach her what 'who's that?' means. At home under little distraction, say those words enthusiastically, immediately followed by the world's yummiest treats. Do this over and over and over for a few days until you say 'who's that' and your dog runs over to you drooling expecting a treat to magically appear from your hand. Once you have consolidated this, use this cue out and about. As soon as you see another dog at the distance your dog is comfortable with, say 'who's that' and heavily reward her. Then do a u turn. The idea here is to teach her that you've got her back and that seeing other dogs is safe, as well as an opportunity to get something amazing. Im here till 8 by the way so keep me posted with your thoughts. Cheers, Laura www.laurav.com.au

Q: Laurelyn Scicluna

My dog has this strange habit when we are on a walk and we stop to talk to someone, he starts getting super anxious or impatient and starts jumping around and whining heaps and then chews on his lead. It’s odd as he doesn’t react that way when we stop and there’s no one else around. I’m not sure if it’s a training issue or if I’m doing something wrong with my responses to him.


Hey Laurelyn, thank you for your question. It sounds as if there is a little impulse control shortage here, as well as a little bit of anxiety and frustration - which all kind of mixes in together often. I'd love you to start to teach your dog to sit and wait/stay for increasing periods of time - learning that at the end of the wait - Our Patch treats will magically appear in slow motion from your hands. You need to build on this though. So you start with no distraction at home and teach him to sit for 2 seconds - then release him followed by the treats. Then 3 seconds then 5 and so on. The art to this is to release him well before he goes to get up out of position. This is critical! Then introduce this under more distraction - in the yard, on the street, in the park etc. Then in front of other people when you stop and talk. Often, we forget that when we are talking to someone, that the training is still occurring and your dog is still dependent on you. So it is important to master a conversation, but still focus on your dog. As your dog sits and waits, you can say 'yes!' followed by a treat and gradually expect them to wait longer for the next one. Make training fun and you will find he looks forward to you stopping - as now, it is an opportunity!


Thanks Laura! I’ll have to revisit this training and build on it with some Our Patch treats. I brought the treats in the car when he came along with us recently and he normally barks at everyone he sees. With the treats on hand, he didn’t bark once and was calm as he just observed the people around.

Q: Dianne

One of my rescues is very noise sensitive and reacts.
What is the best way to deal with this?


Hey Dianne, lovely to hear from you! Noise sensitivity is very difficult to 'train'. It is kind of like training someone to like the sound of a scratching chalkboard. Even thinking about that makes me squeal inside! So, firstly, we try to prevent exposure of the noises your dog is reactive to. There are some great products out there that can help - including doggy ear muffs would you believe!? On occasion, it is worth chatting to your vet. If your dog experiences generalised anxiety (GAD). We can try positive reinforcement, but I would need to know if your dog can tolerate the noise at all, at a particular level/distance. I'm, here till 8, so feel free to reach back out with your thoughts. Cheers, Laura www.laurav.com.au

Q: Olivia Sharpe

How can I get my dog to behave with other dogs? Especially at home (territorial)


Thanks for your great question! territorial behaviours are all about purpose and a reasonable hint of anxiety. So, let's work on the purpose part first; - we don't want our dog to stop telling us how they feel, so condition her to the word 'yes!'. That word = yummy treats. Once they understand the word yes, you can utilise this to get her attention! Now let's focus on the anxiety; - instead of allowing them to get too close ( past the threshold) find the distance they can comfortably cope and work on the 'YES' there. You really need to get good at identifying your dogs threshold! This is an art form to be honest. So, pop them on a lead and give them some control with the word 'yes'. Have lots of treats handy and whenever they see the dog say 'yes' followed by treats, then move that dog away from her/him. I hope that makes sense.

Q: Melissa Sinclair

On my work days 2 foxies being left for 4-5 hrs twice a week. Not going outside to toilet but going inside, full access to inside and out. I leave multiple activities for them.


Thanks for your awesome question. It sounds as if there could be a few causes. Are they anxious when you leave? Are they funny about getting their paws wet? DO they have access to their usual areas, when you are not home? What sort of departures do you make - ie how do you go about leaving them and returning back to them? Where are they urinating? Sorry for so many questions! But this will help me guide you.

Q2: Thanks Laura. The male dog has anxiety so I try to leave lots of sniffing distractions for him. We change up the routines of leaving the house. He does t cry when we leave but I know he does at times when I’m gone.
Female pup urinates right in front of the dog door. The only place we close off to the dogs when we are not home is the stair case, in case they fell when we were not home. Otherwise full access to every area of house. She at times goes to the toilet on the couch or lounge room carpet. She quite often has an aversion to getting her feet wet , the area outside dog door is undercover and tiled.

A2: The sniffing distractions may not make a difference to the urinating behaviours, although do keep giving them things to do. Really practise the leaving and returning cues with your pups and get to be very consistent with their routines. Dogs need predictable routines and to know whats coming and going. Put some faux grass on the tiles outside and take them through to that spot when you are home. Do they use the doggy door when you are home?

Q3: most times, only urinate inside the days/nights I’ve been at work.

A3: Also pop a wee pad at the door, so that you can try to modify the surface a bit and then move that outdoors. Remove access to the couch and rugs whilst you are not home too - infact it is probably best not to allow access to those areas when you are not supervising them in general. 2 x 4.5 month old puppies..... you have your work cut out for you ! xx

Q4: 10months old now, it’s been hard for them as I had them in a great routine for my work days but they have gone backwards since the lockdowns again and us being home. Thanks for your valuable input. We will give this a try. ❤️

A4: Just try to revert to your pre lockdown routine, even when you are home. It might seem weird but if you keep things the same and predictable, dogs do much better 🙂 x

Q: Domenica

How do we stop Our 15 month Maltese Shih tsu from barking at other dogs and people whilst he is out with us. Desperate hooman mum 🐶💗


Hi Domenica, thanks for your great question. You are certainly not alone! Barking is a dog expressing their emotional state. So we dont want to tell them off for this. What we want to do is listen to them and see why they are doing it. It may be that your pup is a little over stimulated. So what I'd love you to do is start to condition them to a word that means something wonderful. When I say wonderful, it has to be like magic -the best food and opportunities imaginable! For example: Who's what? - words followed by roast chicken/our patch treats etc starts to really mean something. Practise this over and over at dinner time and as much as you can so that those words become associated with magic. Then at a long distance from dogs and people, utilise that magical word.If done properly, you will find that your dog looks up at you in anticipation. At that moment give them the treats and do a u turn and a very enthusiastic play game. This will help to overcome the anxiety and vocalisation if you persist! Good luck.

Q: Sharon Nelson

My rescue barks at everything and also is scared to go into any bathroom, laundry or toilet or go past the gas heater what can I do?


Thanks for your awesome question. It is sad when I hear of rescue dogs developing phobias! However, it is so heart warming to know this doggo has a loving forever home! How long have you had the dog? Importantly, don't force them into these spaces, try to change the surface of these areas as it may be the tiles by putting down towels or similar and lacing the areas with treats. Then, gradually remove some of the surface replacement and make the tiles the most rewarding areas. Let me know how long you have had them and that will help guide me

Q2: We have had him since March this year! Thank you for answering my question! We love him dearly and he is a nervous dog so we are really trying to help him. I will let you know how he goes?

A2: Yes I can tell you love him dearly 🙂 And yes, he does seem nervous. It's funny because many people in my field talk about the 3/3/3 rule essentially implying it takes 3 months for rescue to become comfortable to display their true selves. I actually think it often takes much longer and that just like human therapy/recovery; each dog is different. Give him time and patience. I often talk about my approach CPR , which I think applies to you guys in particular: be consistent-patient and respectful with your dog. Applying this mantra invariably results in a happy and confident dog eventually - the time it takes just depends on their limitations. X


Thank you so much! x

Q: Julie Morrow

My 5 year old rescue hates being left alone! She starts barking immediately if we leave the room or put her outside. I usually go out with her and play for a few minutes, hide some food around the yard for her to find etc. As soon as I go in she starts barking. Same if I put her in the bedroom (to give the cat a break) She also barks in the car and tries to sit on my lap. (I do restrain her in the car). She is a chiuahuah/jack russell, her previous owner I'm told never let her inside. Any tips would be great 🙂


Thanks Julie! It sounds as if your gorgeous dog is really suffering from some generalised anxiety. Do you have a great vet that you trust? I think it may be worth chatting to them and doing some research on how some CBT may be enhanced with medications. Of course, it is not something I can recommend here as I don't have enough history, but they will. Aside from this necessary chat, I'd like you to change up this routine a little bit. I think for her the issue is the unpredictability of your return. So, practise some mat training. This is basically teaching your dog to sit and stay on the mat for increased periods of time and distances. Always resulting in a very high value reward. Practise this as a means of your dog getting her daily intake of food. Essentially your departure results in a high value reward. With regards to the car, teach her to sit in either an elevated carrier or likely better, a crate that is enclosed. Practise this in a similar way - where you teach her to go into this in the house for yummy treats. Do this over and over and then move the training to the car. Let me know what your vet says next month, when I am back here online, and we can assess the plan. But start practising the stuff above in the meantime.


Thank you so much, we'll work on it over the next few weeks 🙂

Q: Meg Pfitzner

Why is Zach obsessed with balls? 🤪


Thanks so much for your question. This is a great question, because it is so difficult to answer. The natural drive to catch and kill is inbuilt in many dogs and it is normal. So, it is usually out of prey drive, and play. Animals in the wild play too.. which is inferred as practise of skills to be able to catch their own prey one day. So, knowing it is a normal instinct, it is important to allow our dogs top display normal behaviours. If it does become an obsession however, we may need to think about how else you can meet the mental needs of your dog. Do they have to find their dinner? Or is it given in a bowl? Do they do obedience training sessions each day? Or do they get their food for free? Purpose is key here. The more your dog has to 'think' the more their obsessions slide and they are able to utilise that mental energy for more productive things.

Q2: Thanks for taking the time to answer Laura. So interesting to understand the connection to natural animal instinct. The obsession goes as far that he watches the tennis and rugby on TV and will focus heavily on the ball. Do you think incorporating other purposeful means will maybe change this behaviour too or do you think being able to recognise balls on tv comes down to intelligence?

A2: Such an amazing dog you have! Canine intellect is diverse and some dogs are just extraordinary in their ability to fixate on moving objects. I reckon it would be great to use this skill to your advantage and cue their instinct rather than try to curb it.

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