Please Explain: Dogs

Friday, January 24, 2014

This week's Please Explain is all about dogs. We'll find out the evolutionary roots of domestic dogs, what it means when your dog wags its tail, and why some breeds are easier to train than others. Veterinarian Dr. John Ciribassi, who was one of the editors of Decoding Your Dog, and pet expert and journalist Steve Dale, who contributed to the book, take your calls and questions about man's best friend.

Comments [22]

I Speak Dog ;-)

Dogs RULE!
Dogs make life better.
Dogs bring out the love in the humans.
Dogs ask for so little, and give us so much.
Dogs are all heart, attuned to our emotions.
Dogs are feeling centered beings who offer unconditional love, even when mistreated.
Dogs are angels, here to teach us what Love is.


Feb. 04 2014 10:37 PM
janice dougherty from Brooklyn

In every field, there are people who get paid to tell other people what they want to hear, and people who try to neutralize truths that get in the way of their religious/political/emotional/financial preaching. Steve Dale is one of those. There is little to no hope for the uninformed novice to wade through the flotsam of misleading stuff in their way.

Jan. 27 2014 09:25 AM
Kate from Westchester, NY

In my great, great grandfather's memoir of his travels out west after the Civil War, he writes about wanting to pass a Crow camp quietly by slipping by in his Mackinaw at night. (Montana) They were trying to avoid the Indian kids using them as target practice -- as was their customary fun. He writes that when their boat passed, a chorus of dogs rose up and set off the alarm, with wolves joining with the dogs to make such a racket that soon the squaws were stirring the fires and everybody knew of their presence.
He also wrote that the "Wolfers," as he called them, would poison a killed buffalo with strychnine, and the natives' dogs would die as well when they tasted the poisoned meat. That infuriated the Indians, who loved their dogs and required their alarm system to operate in dangerous territory.

Jan. 24 2014 02:21 PM
Nick from UWS

I feel that Leonard is becoming very bad a time management during his show, and is consequently becoming unbearably rude. He asks a complex question of his guest just to fill the last 7 seconds of the show, and then immediately cuts the poor guest off mid sentence and rushes through the closing credits. It's terribly terribly rude to both the guest and the listener and completely unnecessary. If you don't have time for the answer, don't ask the question.

Jan. 24 2014 02:09 PM
Andrea Claire from Brooklyn

I was sad that Leonard missed the opportunity to bring home a point his guest made about puppy mills. He just skipped over it...

PLEASE do a show on these horrible businesses that should be banned immediately. There is no reason to breed dogs for puppy stores the way it is done in puppy mills- these dogs are mistreated to a degree that is astounding. Please, Leonard, if you love dogs do a show on this subject so that people know the truth about it, and hopefully it will change.

Thank you!

Jan. 24 2014 02:05 PM
Mark Lieberman from Yorktown Heights, NY

Great talk!

Bark Busters focuses on how dogs communicate with each other in pack and they believe the family they live with is their pack.

Jan. 24 2014 01:59 PM
Joel from Westchester

I lived in Morristown, NJ, in the 1930s. The Seeing eye trainers (and potential owners) were frequently seen on the green in the center of town. Was the seeing eye group formed after WWi?

Jan. 24 2014 01:56 PM
croweny from Bed-Stuy, Bklyn

Re: dogs howling at sirens: it seems pretty simple to me. we had a dog that was 1/4 wolf and we used to howl with her. we could set it off by howling and she would immediately join in. it seems likely to me that the sirens sound enough like howling to trigger it in dogs too. try doing it with a's a transcendent experience! [especially in moonlight :) ] - & I agree that it's akin to singing in a choir.

Jan. 24 2014 01:55 PM
Rebecca Fisher from Brooklyn

Can you explain submissive urination and explain how to treat it?

Jan. 24 2014 01:54 PM
Liz from Lower East Side

My 5 year old Cairn Terrier doesn't like to cuddle. I would love it if she would. Are there certain breeds that are more prone to be cuddlers? Is there anything I can do to get my girl to be more affectionate? She is otherwise very friendly and sweet.

Jan. 24 2014 01:50 PM
judy from Greenpoint

My mixed breed dog goes crazy when someone rings the buzzer, knocks on the door or comes into the apt. Is he just overprotective? How do I get him to chill out?

Jan. 24 2014 01:48 PM
antonio from baySide

So is an older harder to train or discipline? Like I mentioned I have a miniature poodle so he is smart..

Jan. 24 2014 01:47 PM
tom from astoria

I disagree that dogs can't survive on their own. Just the other night in the storm he was digging in the tundra like blowing snow to locate food below the surface.. If he was on his own he would go from to a the locations where food can be found on the street, he would find more, over time, and he would find a place to sleep -- in Qns the cars would do him in, but if he were in the country side, why couldn't he survive?

Jan. 24 2014 01:46 PM
Alan from Manhattan

A friend had a Cocker Spaniel who would sing when my friend played the piano. The dog would sing along only with Romantic composers, with Chopin her favorite. When I say sing, I don't mean bark or yelp; I'm referring to up-and-down sounds that I can't call anything other than music.

Jan. 24 2014 01:43 PM
lila from highland park nj

Our 14 year old shiba inu is deaf and can't see well either. Every once in a while, he lets out a sharp yelp. He does not seem to be in pain. (pain killers have not made a difference)
What is going on? Is he getting demented?

Jan. 24 2014 01:42 PM
Michelle from Long Island City

About the wild prototype of dogs: did any of this early wild dogs stay wild (never underwent domestication), and if so, what and where are their descendants today? Have they evolved into a different species?

And also, what about feral dogs and coyotes that live on the margins of human society?

Jan. 24 2014 01:35 PM

Is it true that it's easy to get new breeds of dog fast because there are only 4 genes that control size, coat and other features?

Jan. 24 2014 01:32 PM
oscar from ny

PS: in some countries these doggies are a delicacy and are made to order :)

Jan. 24 2014 01:30 PM
oscar from ny

.hmm I'm a Leo so definitely I'm not to attracted to big dogs specially because they tend to size me up...little dogs are cute and funny and if you stare into their eyes you will find a soul there that no other animal has including the monkey that most ppl think they come from..I have found out that sometimes black dogs are relevant to the devil..I see them once in a while in my nightmares..these devil dogs attack me and hunt me..I also noticed that some old ladies with no life and white folks love their dogs in a sexual manner and take care of them a little to extravagant for my taste..its as almost these ppl love to feel control over these dogs..I'm almost sure that these ppl love their dogs more than humans..a lady around where I work walks her dog and twice the dog put his mouth in my food and this lady thought it was funny or something until I told her to get her freaking pet outta my face and food and she doesn't like me now..

Jan. 24 2014 01:22 PM
antonio from baySide

I swear my miniature poodle is learning new words, (he's 9)...And seems to have bounced from a diabetes diagnoses. Could there be a correlation to his progression because poodles are known to be so smart?


There was a documentary about dogs which depicted an experimentation of domesticating 'foxes'. What else was learned from that? That was incredible to see the foxes basically acting like dogs...

Jan. 24 2014 01:14 PM
Mchael from Green Wood Heights, Brooklyn

My Tiberius, a 4 year old pointer-dane mix, likes car rides but he's terrified of bikes, buses and trucks, even strollers, while walking. (Good thing I have a back yard.) What can I do to get him over his fears?

Jan. 24 2014 08:25 AM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

We as a society claim to love dogs as our "best friends". Then, how to explain that we kill between three and four million a year in our shelters, breed characteristics in them that cause extreme suffering and limited lifespan, allow puppy mills to proliferate, use them by the thousands in universities for tortuous experiments, which usually end in death and race them to injury and death at dozens of Greyhound tracks?

Jan. 23 2014 09:27 PM

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