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Ruff trade: A crisis for Crufts

Crufts returns next week – but there will be no TV coverage, no big-money sponsorship, and no support from the RSPCA. After six months of scandal that has left pedigree breeds branded genetic freaks, John Walsh asks if we can save our love affair with man's best friend

Your Questions: Is the information given on dog-training programmes correct?

Q. I love watching the various dog-training programmes on television, but I’m a bit concerned about some of the methods they use. Is the information they give correct and is it a good idea for people to try the training themselves? Caroline, via e-mail

Your Questions: 'My cat has turned into a crazy feline and attacks my ankles every time I walk past'

Q. I have a six-month-old, female, British short-haired cat. We had been getting along just fine, but recently she's turned into a crazy feline. Nearly every time I walk past her she attacks my ankles. I don't know what do to. Any suggestions? Steven, via e-mail

Your Questions: How do I start a new exercise regime for my Labrador?

Q. I have a three-year-old male chocolate Labrador. Over Christmas I over-indulged myself and him. I would like to start a new exercise regime to include him and I thought about running. Can I just start straight away or – as with humans – do I need to break him in gradually? Mark, via e-mail

Pet of the week: The Labradoodle

And who's this? A labradoodle, quite possibly the soppiest dog on the planet. Although still a relative newcomer to theses shores, the labradoodle is well-established in his native Australia.

Your Questions: How can we stop our rabbit chewing the sofa?

Q. I have an 18-month-old neutered dutch house rabbit called Ben. I rescued him about a year ago and he is a delight, but we have a very big problem. He chews the sofa and we can't seem to stop him. We tried bitter apple spray but it hasn't worked. Any ideas would be really helpful. Henry, Wimbledon, London SW18

Your Questions: Help! I don't know how to look after my tortoise

I have recently taken on a four-year-old tortoise from a friend who didn't want it any more. I'm getting to grips with him but am confused about when or whether he needs to go into hibernation. Help!

Tobi Leopold, Hayling Island

Pet of the week: The Norwegian Forest cat

Jamie Buckley

Your Questions: Why has our Labrador started howling?

Q. Our six-year-old Labrador (placid and lovable) has been howling nightly, often more than once, for the past four weeks for no apparent reason. The howling will last for about half a minute usually during the early hours of the morning. He will also do it occasionally during the day even when we are indoors. He is kept in the utility room during the day and gets regular exercise. In the evening he is allowed to stay with us until we go to bed. Patricia Liddle, Lincoln

Pet of the week: The stick insect

What on earth is it? It's a phasmid, which you'll agree sounds like quite a cool gang to belong to. There are some 3,000 species of stick insect, 300 of which can be bred in captivity, so you'll be spoilt for choice. But take advice before you rush out and get one – some can grow up to half a metre long. More like a log insect.

Pet of the week: The angelfish

What is it? Pterophyllum – the noble angelfish – is one of the most popular fish ever to inhabit an aquarium.

Your Questions: 'Why does my cat like to climb on me?'

Q. Why does my cat like to climb on me and lay stretched out on top of my torso when I'm in bed. Obviously, there's a duvet between me and her, so I'm not sure if she's doing it to get the warmth from my body. Or is it a dominance thing? Jacqueline Davis, via e-mail

Pet of the week: The Poitou donkey

What is it? It's a donkey of the species Equus asinus. The Poitou is a very rare breed with a long shaggy coat, and the most prized are the ones with the nattiest dreadlocks.

Your Questions: What can I do about my nervous border collie?

Q. My male border collie is so nervous that while on a lead, any strange and slightly loud noise turns him into a quivering wreck. When he's scared he barks continuously and tries to hide behind me. I now walk him twice-weekly for one and a half hours along busy streets to try and get him used to the general carry-on of daily life but I don't think he's improving. What can I do? C Phelps, via e-mail

Your Questions: Should we take away our cats' litter tray?

Q. After being largely 'indoor' cats for nine months, our two Russian Blues have recently started to explore more outdoors. They seem to love playing outside and it is a pleasure to see them haring around the garden and stalking through the grass. The one problem we have is that they still use the indoor litter tray. I would love to get rid of the tray but am not sure how to train them to go outside. Should I just take it away? Elise, via e-mail

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Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam