Is My Dog an Alcoholic?

Is My Dog an Alcoholic?
Top trainers answer your questions


Ask Dr Ian Dunbar

Q: When I have a party, my dog, Top Jaw, tries to knock beer out of guests' hands and then drink it. Is my dog an alcoholic or just a bad host? -Todd, Wenatchee, WA

A: LAST YEAR, I WAS RELAXING ON THE COUCH WITH MY DOGS AND holding a glass of Cabernet in my right hand and my wife said, "You had better move that or Ollie might bump it." So, I transferred the glass to my left hand, whereupon Oso lifted his head and gave the glass a resounding nose prod. The glass shot into the air and landed upside down in my lap. I didn't give Oso the chance to reward himself by lapping lap-pooled alcoholic libations. Instead I immediately told him, "Outside!" His rude and clumsy behaviour just lost him couch and living room privileges. After a couple of minutes, I invited him back onto the couch. He has never done it again.

It is unlikely that Top Jaw is an alcoholic. Moreover, questioning his drinking habits is not really the issue. Instead, I would focus on his annoying behaviour and teach him to be a mannerly and welcoming host. Top Jaw need not sign up for AA, instead he needs to sign up for UUA-Unruly & Untrained Anonymous.

Top Jaw desperately needs to be taught a little hosting etiquette. Luckily the solution to your problem is a no-brainer. To teach him to mind his manners, you have several options. When you have guests, put Top Jaw in another room with a party Kongsicle for entertainment (stuff his Kong with his dinner-moistened kibble or raw diet- and freeze it). If you would like Top Jaw in the party room, he may enjoy his Kong in his crate or on his dog bed. Tie the stuffed Kong to an eyehook in the baseboard, so that Top Jaw cannot remove it from his bed, and tie his leash to the eye-hook so that Top Jaw cannot leave his bed. Alternatively, you can teach him to stay on his bed. Practice this each evening, so that he is trained before your next party. Periodically praise him and offer the occasional treat while he remains on his bed. Each time he tries to leave, softly but insistently keep repeating, "Top Jaw, go to your bed...go to your bed..." until he goes back to his bed again. Praise him when he lies down again.

Make sure that you coach Top Jaw when it is time to meet the guests. Also make sure you coach your guests to insist that Top Jaw always sits when saying hello. (There are a good hundred things that a dog cannot do if he is sitting.) But, if he ever tries to forcibly scrounge a beer at future parties, immediately banish him from the bar. ■

Dr. Ian Dunbar is a veterinarian, animal behaviourist, and dog trainer. He has written numerous books and videos and hosted his own television series about dog behaviour and training. Dr. Dunbar met the love of his life in November 97, when teaching a "Sex and Aggression" seminar at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers annual Conference in Memphis, Tennessee.


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