Pets' corner: An unhappy deerhound cross and feuding gerbils

Your questions answered by Chamois Rose-Wood
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We've adopted a five-year-old deerhound cross, previously a working dog. He is walked regularly, but whines and paces from 7pm onwards and gets up at 5am. Can you offer any advice? D Marks, Lincs

A working dog will have been very active both physically and mentally and coming to a domestic situation must have been very strange for him. You are fulfilling his physical needs, but he needs more mental stimulation. If you feed him dry food, scatter it in the garden or a quiet place in the park. If you feed him wet food, stuff it in a kong (a hollow rubber toy) and this will keep him busy for hours.

We bought two sister gerbils to keep the one we already had company. But then we discovered bite marks, so we put the single gerbil in another cage. The sisters have since flourished, but not the the single one. Any ideas? Kate Limb, Glos

In the wild, gerbils live in family groups, and when old enough, leave to start their own colony. This is why gerbils fight in captivity, because they have no chance of starting their own community. Mostly they play-fight, which establishes their hierarchy without serious conflict. But when you keep females together there is an increased chance of fighting - I believe that you have separated the wrong gerbil. Try swapping them round, splitting up the sisters, and take it from there.

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