Kids’ Questions for The Dog Trainer

The Dog Trainer and Mighty Mommy get together to answer kids’ questions about dogs. Why do they bark so much? What is it with the butt-scooting? And why will some dogs fetch, but others just hang on to the ball?

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #201

Question #3

Is it okay to give our dogs cheese when we want them to do something like a trick? (Brendan Butler, age 13) 


Hey, it’s only fair to do something for our dogs when they do something for us! It’s like saying thanks, or like bringing your mom’s plate to the table when she brought your silverware out for you. So, as long as cheese doesn’t upset your dogs’ stomachs, it’s fine. Use tiny pieces, so you can give more rewards without using a lot of cheese.

Sometimes, dogs learn that they never get a treat unless they see it right up front. So you might want to hide the treat so your dog doesn’t see it until after she does the trick. Also, sometimes you can thank her in other ways. For instance, if she especially likes it when you scratch her back right behind her tail, you could do that for her after she does a trick for you.

See also: How to Train a Dog with Food Rewards

Question #4

Sometimes both our dogs bark at us for no reason. Are they trying to talk to us? (Annie Butler, age 7)


So, here’s the thing – it’s not for no reason. But the reason might be one that’s obvious to your dogs and not so obvious to a human. One way to figure out why a dog is doing something is to see if you can spot any patterns. Say your dog barks at you five times. The fifth time, you look at her and say “What do you want?” If your dog stops barking, then you can probably bet that she’s  barking to get you to pay attention to her. Try paying more attention to her when she’s being quiet and polite, and see if the pattern changes.

See also: How to Stop Your Dog’s Annoying Behavior

Question #5

Our dog Gracie sometimes likes to drag her butt on the rug in circles. We call it the “Swiffer.”    Why does she do this? Is her butt itchy? (Brady Butler, age 10)  


Gracie should hit the vet’s office. It’s a good bet she has what are called “impacted anal glands.” The anal sacs are little pouches near a dog’s anus, and they can get clogged. This is uncomfortable and can make it hurt to poop. The vet can clean the sacs out so that Gracie feels better and your rug is cleaner too.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).