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The "D" word

It’s the white elephant in the room whenever there is a Mastiff, St. Bernard or Bloodhound present.

Owners of these breeds – and other loose-lipped dogs – typically carry a rag or handkerchief tucked into a pocket or purse for on-site damage control. The walls of their homes are coated with scrubbable paint. Their furniture is upholstered in forgiving fabrics. Their clothes are machine washable.

I’m talking, of course, about Drool.

There are two kinds of drool.

The drop or two of saliva that emanates from a Cocker Spaniel or Boston Terrier while the dog is waiting for his meal to be prepared – that’s one kind of drool. I am not talking about minor dribbles like that.

I’m talking about the other kind of drool, the kind that seems to have a life of its own.

It loops and swings like an ever-lengthening rope of gooey syrup.

It clings to chairs, pant legs, and bare arms.

It puddles into ponds of slippery shellac.

It glistens and dangles from the lips of the dog, swaying freely as she dances over to you, each of the two ribbons threatening to plummet at any moment.

Humans run for cover when she shakes her head, ducking to elude the splatter.

Usually dogs with the shoelace kind of drool are darling, sweet-tempered loving pets.

This means that guest and owner alike are greeted with passionate and very damp enthusiasm.

And here is where training comes into play. In case you were wondering what the heck drool has to do with dog training.

If your dog is a major drooler, you might have a Love Me Love My Dog attitude. Therefore, you are resigned to living a lonely life, as your friends and family make excuses to avoid visiting you and your soggy pup.

Or maybe you are the dog owner that cringes when visitors get the slobber treatment, even when the victim denies any discomfort, as in “Oh, its okay. I don’t mind. I love dogs.” This said while your guest flicks a glob of spit off her Manolo Blaniks.

If you dread those close, moist encounters and want to avoid inflicting them on others, you can teach your dog to:

A) not answer the door,

B) sit before being petted,

C) go to her place/bed when you have a visitor, and

D) stay away from the table while you are eating.

The commands Sit, Stay and Place are especially helpful here. If your dog’s behavior is under control, then his drool is too. Or at least, the odds of it landing on your visitor’s clothing are diminished a bit.

Be sure that, when teaching these commands, do not pull or drag your dog to where you want him to be. He needs to go there on his own. Otherwise, he’ll be waiting for you to grab his collar and yank him to the right place. If your dog runs to the door when the bell rings, walk over to the spot – well away from the door – where the dog should stay. Call him to you, have him sit and stay, then walk to the door to answer it. Only open the door when the dog is quiet and in a sit/stay. Don’t reward bad behavior by opening the door; the dog will think his barking and running to the door made it open!

The only way to get a handle on drool is to take a hint from the professional dog show circuit and put a bib on your dog, and a placemat under his dish. And finally, if your dog doesn’t normally drool and all of sudden starts to, call your vet right away. He might be sick, or have a foreign object stuck in his throat.

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