Animal Island: Dog doesn’t get along with other canines

Q: My 5-year-old Maltipoo is sweet and lovable, but when she sees another dog, she starts growling and whining. She barks at all breeds, from Yorkies to Great Danes. I would appreciate your advice on what to do when this happens and why she acts this way.

A: You do not say if you have another dog, but if she is an only dog living with a family of humans then of course she will be lacking in canine social skills. Those skills can only be properly developed by interacting with other dogs.

When I was a kid, a fenced-in backyard was unheard of, and our dogs were all let outside every morning to spend all day long up to their own devices. I was fascinated to see how some dogs were loners and how some hung out together in pairs, while others freely moved from group to group. However, those days are long gone, and just as we have to schedule play dates for our kids we now have to schedule them for our dogs.

Your Maltipoo obviously does not feel comfortable when she is around other dogs and has learned that when she makes a fuss, she is left alone.

If you do want her to enjoy the company of other dogs and you do not want to actually adopt a second dog, then bring her to a public dog park so she can learn how to act around other dogs in a controlled environment.

If you can afford the time and money for vet care and other expenses, the best route is to get another dog in your home.

In my house, the saying “the more the merrier” applies to my pets, and I always do my best to make sure all the different species I have get to socialize with a member of their own kind.

Q: My gray parrot lives in a large, wrought-iron cage in my kitchen. This summer, there seem to be ants in the bird’s food dish all the time, no matter how often I clean the cage. I know I cannot use any pesticides around the bird, and I really do not know what to do. I read online that if I put each of the legs of the cage in a container of water, the ants cannot cross the water and this will keep them from climbing the legs, but that sounds a bit cumbersome, plus it will rust the legs of the cage.

I hired an exterminator to try to find out how the ants are getting inside the house, but he cannot help me with the bird’s cage.

A: Ants are opportunists and will take advantage of any food source, such as your bird’s cage. I have noticed that ants do not like to cross a layer of Vaseline petroleum jelly. If you smear a layer of it around the legs of the bird’s cage, that will prevent the ants from climbing up the legs. A Vaseline layer tends to thin out after a while, so you may need to reapply it twice a day.

Q: We live near the water, and last year a pair of herons built a nest in a large white pine on our property. They then had a family.

They seemed to be the messiest birds on the planet. The tree is right next to our carport, and underneath it was a mess of trash and poop all summer long. A month ago, we noticed the two herons again building a nest in the tree. We did our best to discourage them by banging pots together and making all sorts of noise.

However, they ignored us, and now they have chicks in the nest and we are stuck with the mess all over again. Can you suggest anything we can do to prevent this from happening again next spring?

A: Herons are a very primitive group of birds and have seen a lot of comings and goings in this world, so they are pretty jaded to any strange events. Some pots clanging together and other such noise will mean nothing to them, plus their nests are so high up in most trees that anything you are doing down at ground level is of no consequence to them.

The only advice I can give is to have a tree service come down after the babies have fledged and cut off any branches from the tree they might use as a nesting platform next year.

First Published July 23, 2014 12:00 AM