[Dear Annie]

To celebrate 1994 as the Year of the Dog, Director and volunteer dog walker, Lucie Tomson, has asked her dog, Annie, to help out with canine concerns. Annie, a border collie, does her best to help her fellow dogs with their questions.

Annie's picture Dear Annie:
Is there such a thing as Prozac for dogs? Why I ask is that I cannot seem to calm down and I feel antsy all the time. I keep hearing my owners call me "wild thing" and "hyper" -- whatever that means. I find the more tense my owners get, the more "hyper" I become. Both my owners and me need help?

Dear Randy:
Activity level among dogs can vary tremendously and there are activity tendencies among breed types. For example, a bouncy and intense Basset Hound is probably as rare as a laid back Border Collie. All the more reason that humans must research breed and mixed-breed tendencies before choosing their companion animal and deciding on an activity level that fits with their lifestyle.

A Border Collie like me must be kept busy both physically and mentally. If we become bored and are not kept busy mentally, we can become out of control and bark too much, chew too much and generally be a nuisance. What my owner did first was obedience training. At first, we worked on the commands daily if not twice a day. Now I must work for everything I get: supper, yummies, and even play time. She keeps me thinking because she has built up a vocabulary with me and since I do find her interesting, I listen to her to pick up words that I know. I know she is the boss and there is a daily exercise routine. I have learned that I must lie down in the hallway until she has finished her supper and has had her coffee before I start bugging her to go for a walk. Once I have had my walk, I'm fine.

You appear to be what is termed a "reactive" dog. Dogs that are reactive actually will become more frenzied and tense as their owners get tense or frustrated. The good thing about a reactive dog is that they tend to be highly trainable IF and ONLY IF the owner keeps their emotions in check and corrects mistakes in a firm but neutral tone. This type of dog is highly in tune with their owner's emotions and tend toward wanting to please their owner. This kind of relationship is very rewarding if the owner uses the dog's need to please in a constructive way. If the dog understands that sitting still, lying down, and waiting pleases the owner, the dog will do it provided the dog has the necessary energy outlets such as exercise, play time, and attention from their owner.

You do not need Prozac; you need structure and guidance from your owner, you need to be exercised both mentally and physically, you need a steady diet of a quality dog food, and you need to be needed.

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