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Ask the Expert: Q&A

Ear Cropping

Q: I am being trained in Canada to become a clicker trainer. I have three great Danes and an American pit bull terrier. All four of my dogs have had their ears cropped. My trainer has told me that I can no longer crop dogs because once I become a clicker trainer, cropping is unethical and promotes unethical practices for clicker trainers. In Canada it's legal to crop ears and dock tails. I show and breed great Danes, which is why I choose to crop. I also chose to crop my pit bull to represent the breed as she is my service dog and is registered with assistant animals of Saskatchewan. I know it is a strong subject and I do understand that you can show uncropped dogs, but do you know of any literature that agrees with what this trainer is telling me? I would like to have something on paper to back up her statements so I can make a better judgment on whether or not to stop cropping my dogs. My dad thought she was just trying to push her strong beliefs about her disgust of the whole crop issue on me to try to sway me by using clicker training as a method of stopping it. Please help!!!

Clicker Training Two Dogs

Q: We have a couple of two-year-old Lab/Rhodesian/Shepherd mix "pups," two sisters that were found abandoned. We have had some success using traditional training techniques, but would like to try incorporating the clicker. Do you have any recommendations for using the training with two dogs? Even if one were indoors and the other outdoors, we suspect that both would still be able to hear the clicker. Would it confuse the "other" dog to hear the click and not be rewarded? Or, perhaps if we trained them together, would the dog not receiving the treat understand that her sister is getting a reward for the desired behavior?

Dog in the Kitty Litter

Q: How can I stop my dog from eating cat poop?

When Roughhousing Becomes Too Rough

Q: I have two dogs, a 9-month-old pit bull mix and a 13-month-old lemon Dalmatian. When it comes to playing and toys, the Dal is very submissive and the pit bull is aggressive. I have had to break up their playing because the Dal will not let the pit know when she is getting hurt. I have since found about half a dozen scratch marks on the Dal's neck from the pit bull. How do I curb this type of behavior? I'm trying to find a way to allow me to keep both dogs, but so far have been unsuccessful.

Teaching the Pawing Behavior

Q: I train animals for films & TV commercials in Australia. I am currently working on a job and the clients have just added a behavior to their "wish-list," at very late notice (I have 5 days to train it). ... The clients have asked that she "dig" on a flat wooden surface. I have been trying to get her to dig for a treat in dirt, but that is really not working so far (she is hungry, not starving). What else can I try?