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Why does Max-E bark at our neighbor, and why does Sammy go crazy on walks?

Dear Louis and Sonya,

When we rescued our dog Max-E, he would growl at all men. He has gotten a lot better, but for some reason is really bothered by our neighbor — barking and growling at him — and he is so focused on him he won’t stop.

If anyone else comes up to the fence, I can whistle and he will come right in. I would just like to know what it is about this guy that bothers him so much?

Also, my dog Sammy gets a little crazy when we go for walks, and he sees another dog. I think he just wants to go up to them, but he gets so crazy that we get funny looks from the other person walking their dog. Occasionally, Sammy will take his frustration out on Max-E, and I have to break them apart, hoping I won’t get hurt by accident.

I would just like to know what they are going through or thinking when these things happen.

Thank You,


Dear Janet,

Max-E tells me he growls at all men.  And the man that lives next door reminds him of a man from the past that had been cruel to him.  He doesn’t like the sense of him, and he doesn’t like the look of him.  That’s why he reacts the way that he does. 

As for Sammy going a little crazy, he’s the Alpha dog and bossy!  And also, he is a little jealous of Max-E sometimes…

Always make sure that if you pet one, pet the other at the same time.  If you buy new collars make sure they both have the same.  Even if you speak to Max-E make sure at the same time you speak to Sammy.  And when you walk with the leashes, don’t switch them, always give them the same one. 

I have to admit, I do like your dogs.  They do love each other they tell me.  And don’t forget, people have disagreements too – they’re not the only ones! 

Love and Woof, Woof!


Doggie Travel Tips for the Holidays

Ah the holidays! If you’re like us, you’re on the go more than ever over the next week…and bringing your dog with you.

Here are a few top tips we sourced on traveling with your dog over the holidays.


1. Behold the Power of the Crate: Experts unanimously agree that crates are the safest way to protect your dog while traveling. Choose one that is large enough for your dog to stand, turn and lie down in. If you are just introducing your dog to the crate for travel purposes, feed him in it a few times before putting him in it for travel. This way he makes positive associations between the crate, food and safety!




2. Emphasize Exercise: Even just 15-20 minutes of exercise is essential to keeping your dog happy and reducing his anxiety before a trip so be sure to give him as much of a workout as possible before hitting the road. This has the added bonus of ensuring you get some fresh air and move your legs yourself.





3. Make a Good Goody Bag: His favorite toys, bones and treats will go a long way in making him feel that this whole “I’m confined and going to a new environment” is a good thing.





4. Do a Bit of Homework on Local Dog Doctors: Between new people and places, holiday decorations, foods and cocktails, dogs’ health and well-being are more at risk during this time of year. When you’re traveling to a new environment, knowing who to call if something goes wrong can put your mind at ease. You can find a list by locale here


Actress Mariel Hemingway and her dog Bindu joined Lisa Erspamer and her dogs Lily and Grace for an interview with The Insider. Mariel’s letter to her Yorkie Bindu is featured in the book.  Lisa just adopted Grace from the SEAACA Animal Shelter.

Go to to find out when The Insider is on in your area!

Ask Our Dog Experts . . . How Can I Get My Dog To Swim?

By Brian Lee, Dog Trainer & Behavioral Counselor


I have the only lab dog  in the world who hates to swim.  After 5 years she just now learned to enjoy her baths, what can I do to get her to participate with the other dogs swimming in the doggie park pools or to actually go in the ocean.


The key to behavior modification is taking baby steps.  Your dog must get wet several times a day in order to become desensitized to water.  Simply wash her feet or pick her up and putt her on the first step of the pool and hold her there until she’s calm, then let her get out.  This will allow her to gradually become accustom to water without forcing the issue too quickly and thereby getting into a power struggle (the very thing you want to avoid).  Slowly immerse her more each day, making sure to never move to the next level until she is no longer struggling with the current one.  If your dog is willing to take treats during these exercises, the treats can help remap the brain and make it a more positive experience.

Dogs Who Tweet: How Starla the Chihuahua Became Part of the Twitterati

Starla the Chihuahua, owned by celebrity real estate agent Chad Rogers, has 3,649 Twitter friends of all breeds.


Dogs Help to Comfort Newtown, Connecticut


Our hearts are shattered over Friday’s tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. We found some much needed solace and beauty in this story about people harnessing the love and power of dogs to comfort victims.

As the Chicago Tribune reports, Lutheran Church Charities in Chicago dispatched a team of about 10 golden retrievers to travel 800 miles to Newtown on Saturday. While residents grappled with this incomprehensible trauma, the goldens were there for anyone who wanted to pet them while praying or talking with the dog’s handler. In explaining dogs’ miraculous abilities to break down barriers, Tim Hetzner, president of the Addison-based organization said “Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone.” Each dog carries a business card with its name, Facebook page, twitter account and email so those that meet the canine can keep in touch.

It is our every hope that the residents of Newtown find as much comfort, peace and hope as they can in the wake of Friday. We’re proud of these 4-legged heroes who are so effortless in expressing love.



How can we stop Miles from being Leash-Aggressive?

Hi Louis and Sonya,

We have a 6-year-old yellow Lab named Miles. We rescued him from a horrible house when he was 1-year-old. He is such a great dog. We have 2 boys, and he is great with them.

Our only problem is that when we take him on a walk, and run into another dog, he gets very aggressive. He is 105 pounds and is hard to control.  He will jump, bark, growl and will bite anything close to him. We have to walk him with a muzzle on in order to keep ourselves and other dogs safe.

We have another dog, Georgia, and he will lash out at whatever is closest to him, even her — his buddy.

I want to understand why he does this, and what we can do to change this?  I have worked with several dog trainers and none of them have been able to help. I also volunteer for a dog rescue and we foster dogs. It makes it really hard to help other dogs when Miles has a lot of leash aggression issues. I have to do separate walks with the dogs.

He is such a sweet dog and would be the perfect boy if we could get his leash issues fixed.

Please, please help us.


Angie and Erik

Dear Angie and Erik,

How smart you are to walk Miles in a muzzle!  He loves his family very much, and he tells me he is the perfect family dog. 

You do, fortunately, know his background and how he suffered in the past.  Sometimes, the past is hard to shake no matter how much you are loved now.  I would advise you to continue to walk him alone, without the other dogs. 

I would also definitely get him a ThunderShirt.  This works with any anxiety or fear and really helps to calm dogs down.  When you fit this, make sure it hit hugs his body.  I have known this to work on dogs that have aggression.

I would also advise you to purchase some Rescue Remedy – it’s a natural product that helps to calm animals down and people too.  Give him a few drops orally, and then rub it on his head and his ears when he is aggressive.

Good luck!

Love and Woof, Woof!

Louis and Sonya

A Letter To My Dog on Good Morning America

Good Morning America says A Letter to My Dog is a book that will keep make you laugh, cry…and stay up late to read. Watch our segment here! Author Lisa Erspamer’s dog Lily makes a cameo (complete with yelping), Photographer Robin Layton talks about photographing book subjects like Robin Roberts and her dog, and music legend Tony Bennett, who wrote a letter to his dog Happy, confesses he does indeed sing to her.