DEAR JOAN: I am moving from a house with a yard to a fourth floor apartment with my 8 year old King Charles Cavalier puppy.
How can I teach him to use paper on a patio so I don’t have to take him far outside? He has undergone spinal fusion surgery that has left him struggling to hold onto his bowels and bladder once he is ready to go.
Ann Marie, Lafayette
DEAR ANN MARIE: This sounds like it will be a chore, but experts assure me it just takes patience, repetition, and lots of pee pads.
Whether you want your dog to go out on the balcony or in a certain spot in your yard, you’ll need to train him to go on command, which apparently isn’t that hard.
I’m sure your dog is already giving you clues when to pee or poop. When you know he needs something, pull on his leash and take him to the designated spot. Give him an order, such as “potty,” and wait for him to obey.
The moment he complies, reward him with a treat and praise. If he doesn’t go away a few minutes after receiving the command, bring him back inside and try again after a while. Since he has a hard time holding it in, you don’t want to wait long between attempts.
I’m sure you wouldn’t, but don’t scold him for not going on command. Just keep trying.
When the balcony is safe for him, you can take him off the leash and play with him. If there is a risk of him falling through the railing or otherwise getting into trouble, keep him on a leash.
It is important to keep fresh, clean pads for him. Nobody likes a smelly toilet.
If your dog only urinates by walking with his leg, you may want to put some sort of pole that gives him a target and is easy to clean.
DEAR JOAN: About a month ago we started hearing some unusual bird sounds. The sound came from two tall trees near us and was a call and answer, so we knew there were two birds.
We used the Merlin app to identify the call of a red-shouldered hawk. Finally we got a sighting of one of the birds, and it turns out to be a juvenile. We speculated that the calls had been between a baby and mom.
Now there is only one hawk, but it remains in several trees, calling and calling. Is it looking for food, a mate or something else? Any insight you have about this fascinating creature would be greatly appreciated.
Cheryl Masters, Los Altos
BEST CHERYL: There is only one thing a young hawk asks for, and that is food.
When the chicks are young, the mother bird stays with them while the father hawk hunts for food. He brings it to the nest and she feeds it to the babies. About seven weeks after hatching, the young hawks leave the nest, but they remain dependent on the mother to feed them for another eight to ten weeks.
The call and response you heard earlier was probably the baby asking for food, and one of his parents told him to hold his horses, it’s coming. If the parents don’t respond to the demands now, the boy is probably old enough to hunt alone.
The parents will likely return to the nest next season, so you have many more years to enjoy the beautiful birds.
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